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Honors, Awards, Activities

Required Attendance at Departmental Events

In the interest of their academic and professional development, all students are required to attend Departmental public events, such as invited speakers and colloquia organized by the Department, the graduate student/faculty forum, graduate recruitment weekend, and the like.  Departmental funding for research and conference travel is contingent upon regular attendance at such events.

Graduate Student Essay Prize

The graduate faculty of the Department of French and Italian announces a prize for the best graduate student paper written for a French Department seminar between the spring quarter of the previous year and the winter quarter of the current year, in English or French. Eligible submissions are those by students in French or CLS/French in the first three years of graduate study, excluding prospectuses, papers for independent studies (499) and French 495, incomplete work, and work written for courses in other departments. A French graduate seminar is one carrying the rubric “French.” Courses cross-listed between French and another department are eligible. Spring quarter papers are eligible for submission for next year’s competition. No formal nomination is required, although professors teaching graduate courses will be asked to encourage students whose final papers were particularly strong to submit their work. Submissions are due late in the spring quarter and will be judged by the graduate faculty. The author of the winning submission will receive a cash prize of $250 at the end-of-year party, and will be ineligible to compete in the following year’s competition.

Excellence in Graduate Language Teaching Award

The Excellence in Graduate Language Teaching Award is awarded at the end of each academic year, in the spring, to a graduate student who distinguishes herself or himself as a language instructor in Beginning and Intermediate levels including the intensive courses. The amount of the award is $250. The winner will be announced at the end of the year celebration in the spring. 


 Beginning of spring quarter: Students are nominated by undergraduate students in their classes, the coordinators of the courses they have taught, and teaching track faculty who team teach the intensive courses. The selection committee solicits nominations from relevant classes. Course coordinators may also nominate one student per level (beginning, intermediate, intensive if applicable). All nominations, by undergraduate students and faculty should be accompanied by a brief statement, one or two short paragraphs, highlighting the candidate’s qualifications for the award.


Once nominations are received by the selection committee, members of the committee will collect the following additional materials:

The winner will be selected on the basis of the number and the quality of nominations s/he has received and the following criteria: 

Department Graduate Colloquium

 A department colloquium will be held annually. One of the goals of the colloquium will be to highlight the work of students who successfully passed the Prospectus Review in the previous twelve months (see The Prospectus Review above), as well as to provide them with valuable experience in presenting their work in a collegial and supportive setting. The colloquium, the format of which may vary from year to year, may also include presentations by more advanced students and faculty in order to promote extended dialogue among graduate students and faculty regarding their ongoing research.

Graduate Student Conference  

The Department encourages graduate students to organize yearly a conference around a topic of their choice. The conference allows students to define a collective intellectual project and learn to plan and organize such events, which is important for their future professional lives.

Graduate Student/Faculty Forum

The Graduate Student/Faculty Forum provides an additional venue for dialogue beyond the classroom. Graduate students and faculty meet at least once a quarter over the course of the year for a discussion of their ongoing research, current trends in scholarship, and other aspects of academic life. 

Department of French and Italian Fall Colloquium

Each fall quarter, the Department holds a Fall Colloquium focusing on a major literary, cultural, or theoretical figure, or on a significant topic. A reading group organized and conducted by our graduate students may be held in preparation for the colloquium.

Department Lecture Series

During the academic year, a faculty committee, in consultation with other members of the Department, invites a number of speakers to participate in the Department Lecture Series.  In addition to a public lecture, visits by speakers invited as part of the series generally also include a Graduate Luncheon Workshop, where the speaker discusses with students a pre-circulated chapter of their work.

Ad Hoc Events, Collaboration with Other Programs, and Graduate Student Involvement

In addition to these regularly scheduled events, the Department also invites speakers on an ad hoc basis, as well as working closely with The Program in African Studies, Comparative Literary Studies, Rhetoric and Public Culture, the French Interdisciplinary Group, and other programs in the collaborative organization of major events such as conferences and visits to Northwestern by distinguished scholars. When organizing conferences and speaking engagements, faculty and students also work in close collaboration. Graduate students are always involved in programs organized by faculty, not only as assistants, but also as participants.

For a list of events, please see the French and Italian website,