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Comprehensive Examination for Senior French Majors at Amherst College
This exam is scheduled some time before the end of the seventh week of a Senior's last semester. (For those graduating in the Spring, the exam usually occurs just before or after Spring Break.) It is an oral exam conducted in French that lasts about 30 minutes, administered by two members of the French Department faculty. Each student first chooses one work from the Department's comprehensive exam reading list that he or she wishes to discuss in the oral exam. Students are allowed to bring a 3 x 5 card of notes with them if they wish, but they are not to read their presentations.
The exam should begin with your situating (briefly) the text you choose within the context of the French literary tradition and the context of the author's life. (Obviously, if the text is anonymous, that issue in itself would need to be addressed.) After your introduction, you discuss more fully a particular aspect of the text. You may choose, for example, a specific theme, topic or problem that you find interesting and important. You should try to develop a consistent argument about the question chosen and to sustain your argument with specific examples from the text. Since it is impossible to talk about all the aspects of a text in the short amount of time allotted, you ought to make every effort to be as concise as possible. After you have completed your presentation (lasting approximately 15-20 minutes), you will be asked a few questions about it by the faculty members present.