The First-Year Paper (Comparative Field Exercise) consists of the oral defense of a paper developed in consultation with a faculty advisor. It is normally taken at the end of the semester in which M.A. coursework is completed, no later than the student’s second year. The paper, usually between 30 and 40 pages in length and written in French, will examine a theme, problem, or issue across three periods of the student’s choice. For instance, the student might study notions of privacy in three texts, dating from the 17th, 18th, and 19th century respectively; or, the student could investigate the theme of hysteria in works from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. The periods need not be consecutive.

In this paper, you are expected to demonstrate your ability to contribute to critical discussions ongoing in the field.

The student will defend the First-Year Paper before a committee consisting of the faculty advisor and one other faculty member from French and Italian. The oral defense usually lasts an hour and a half, and will be conducted in French.