French & Francophone Studies

Annnnnnnnd break

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Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Is this article relevant? Should I stop? Should I keep going?

Over the past week or so, I found myself asking myself these questions repeatedly. I felt somewhat lost, apprehensive and uncertain about my work. I was worried that I was losing momentum because of my anxiety, so I reached out to the heads of the Fellowship program and my faculty mentor. I was given advice that I can apply to my current research and for future projects – the questions that I was asking myself were completely normal, and it was okay to doubt myself once in a while.

With the help of a large iced coffee and a good Spotify playlist, I’ve been able to sit down and focus on my work. After sorting through my anxieties about the relevance of my research, I’ve regained momentum and confidence, and I am better able to grapple with the questions that I constantly ask myself. Currently, I’m reading about the ethnic conflict and tensions between English and French immigrants in Canada, and am finding interesting correlations between language policy in France and Quebec based on ethnic and national unity and identity. I’m becoming more comfortable talking about my research with others, and am becoming more confident in my knowledge about French language policy.

Perhaps one of the most helpful pieces of advice I was given was how important it is to clear my head once in a while. Sitting down and reading for hours at a time can be a mundane task. I’m interested and passionate about the work I’m doing, but I’ve realized that my productivity during the day increases when I take some time off from my work. Whether it be Skyping with a friend who is abroad or going to a Pirates baseball game, I’m learning more about the importance of finding balance between work and taking time off.

Adapting to Change

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I’m a girl who likes routine. So the prospect of starting my own research for the summer was exciting but also daunting. Over the past summers, I’ve always been given a plan or some sort of instruction for my jobs; now it’s up to me, with the help of my adviser, to instruct myself.

After speaking with my adviser, we were able to choose three topics to research over the next coming months. I will start with exploring the relationship between language policy and nationalism to contextualize two case studies I plan to research.

I originally planned on using one case study (the French Toubon Law of 1994) to further explore the relationship between language policy and nationalism. La Loi Toubon was passed to regulate the usage of French in public spaces and commercial areas (such as on the radio, on television, etc.). This was largely in response to the increasing usage of English in French society, and was consequently installed to protect French national unity and centralize French power.

After speaking with my adviser, we decided to analyze and research another piece of legislation to further analyze the relationship between language policy and nationalism in a different context. In the 1970s in Quebec, the Charter of the French Language declared French to be the official language of Quebec (a province in Canada). I hope to study the history of French involvement in Quebec, and how French speakers in Quebec use their language as a way to create a unique national identity.

I am really eager to continue my research, and am looking forward to adapting to this change of pace for the upcoming summer.