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Department of French and Italian


French Interdisciplinary Group | Norman B. Spector Scholars Fund | Paris Program in Critical Theory | MMLC | Writing & Tutoring | French Writing Center

French Interdisciplinary Group

The French Interdisciplinary Group (FIG), founded in 1996, is one of a dozen interdisciplinary centers (or "centres d'excellence") in the US supported by the French government. Over 50 faculty members in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, and the professional schools, and a similar number of graduate students are affiliated with the group.

FIG supports presentations, seminars, and colloquia on French or francophone studies, on French scholarship, and presentations by French visitors in all disciplines. It offers two regular speakers’ series, the Causeries, for undergraduates, and the Cafés Philosophiques, organized by and for graduate students.

Fig supports graduate studies as well. It provides small summer grants, actively collaborates with the Paris Program on Critical Theory and the dual PhD Program in International and Intercultural Studies in partnership with the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). It is actively involved in the management and development of graduate exchange programs with the École Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm and the École Normale Supérieure, Lyon.

FIG works to form new partnerships and programs with French institutions of higher education, notably Sciences Po, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), and, for the natural sciences, the Université Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg. In this regard, FIG works closely with the Office for International Program Development. It also oversees regular faculty exchanges with Sciences Po and EHESS.

For Upcoming Events and more information on all aspects of our endeavors consult our webpage or contact one of the co-directors:

Nasrin Qader, Associate Professor of French

Michael Loriaux, Associate Professor of Political Science
Center for International and Comparative Studies

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Norman B. Spector Scholars Fund

The Norman Spector Scholars' Fund honors the memory of our late colleague, the chair of the department for the first decade after its founding and an unforgettable teacher and friend. In 2003-04 the Spector Fund helped bring Leo Bersani , of the University of California-Berkeley, to teach two courses in the Spring quarter and to deliver the first series of three Spector Lectures, which will continue in the future. In addition the Fund covers the student Essay Prizes awarded each spring, as well as student travel (for the French Government Youth and Sports Grants and for the Grande Dictée des Amériques in Québec each year).

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Paris Program in Critical Theory

The Northwestern University Paris Program in Critical Theory, inaugurated in Fall of 2001, affords advanced graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines a unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with French and European theoretical research by spending one year in Paris under optimal conditions. The Paris program, directed by Samuel Weber, Avalon Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University, has two major functions: to provide funding for a one year stay in Paris and to create a situation in which that year can be put to best possible use.

The Paris Program provides a full fellowship support for one year to up to five highly qualified graduate students from Northwestern. In the Fall quarter, these students participate in a weekly interdisciplinary seminar organized by the Program's Director, Professor Weber. The Director also assists students in making contact with leading European scholars and researchers in their respective fields. Students spend the rest of the year in study and/or research according to their individual projects.

For further information on this program, see the Paris Program site.

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Multimedia Learning Center

The Multimedia Learning Center (MMLC,) is directed by Katrin Völkner of the Department of German. The MMLC provides a wide range of instructional support services to all language departments including the standard language laboratory services. In addition, the Center collaborates with instructors to develop innovative courseware and class projects, including such well-received and popular projects as Creative Writing in Italian, Internautique, Internef, Italian Soap Operas, and the Picpus Digital Archive.

Additional information on MMLC services can be found at:

Tutoring Centers

Did you know that the Department of French and Italian provides free tutoring to students currently enrolled in 100-level French courses? The FIT Tutor Center, housed in Crowe 2-113, offers drop-in tutoring in all aspects of the French and Italian programs, including the opportunity to practice language skills with your peers. Tutors are available Monday through Friday. Please contact the FIT office at 847-491-5490, or refer to the Tutor Center door, for a complete schedule of availability.

The French Writing Center

The French department hosts a French Writing Center with Patricia Scarampi.

The mission of the center is to help students in French courses 210 and above (but excluding 301, 302, 303) to improve their overall writing ability, become more self-reliant writers and gain a better comprehension of French grammar and writing styles.

Here is how it will work:
Once you have prepared a first draft of your paper, you can sign up for a half-hour session (no more than one per week) using the doodle link below at least 24 hours in advance.  

Doodle link for spring 2015:

During the session the professor will help you with questions of structure, vocabulary and style – and grammar when necessary. Bring a paper copy of your essay along with the topics and the instructions given by your professor. You are encouraged to bring your own laptops. If your essay is longer than 3 pages, please identify the passages that you would like to work on and the language related questions you have. Please be aware that this is not a proof-reading service!

In Crowe 2-113 you will find grammar manuals and dictionaries available for consultation outside of your appointment hours.




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