Doctoral programme in English Language and Literature

The doctoral programme in English Language and Literature, sponsored by the Conférence Universitaire de la Suisse Occidentale (CUSO), officially began its activities in 2009. The programme brings together the talents and resources of faculty and doctoral students from the CUSO universities of Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, and Neuchâtel, as well as the associated university of Berne. The purpose of the programme is to provide the best possible environment for doctoral study by creating an active, collaborative, and lasting research community in English studies.

The most visible form of this collaboration consists in a set of seminars and workshops throughout the year designed to appeal to a wide range of intellectual interests, while also demonstrating how research is conducted at the highest level. Faculty members also offer practical advice to doctoral students on the organisation, composition, and eventual publication of their theses. The aim of the programme is also to prepare doctoral students for professional life, whether in academia or elsewhere, through research.   

While recognizing the thesis as the substance of the doctorate, the doctoral programme is based on the conviction that better doctoral theses are written when the writer is in contact with other researchers with whom to share questions of methodology, theory, and scholarship. In keeping with the spirit of a research community, therefore, the programme is designed to be a laboratory for new ideas where doctoral students and other researchers come together on an equal footing, away from the institutional structure of examinations and course requirements.

For this reason, the programme is not a degree-granting institution, and participation on the part of faculty and students is wholly voluntary. However, doctoral students may obtain a certificate of study (Attestation d’études doctorales) for active participation in seminars or workshops.

Workshops cover a range of fields including:

Research methodology: including electronic research tools and databases, palaeography, archives and artefacts, manuscripts and editions, treatment of secondary sources, selection of materials, definition and positioning of thesis, organisation.

Theory: including definition of theoretical assumptions, and the fundamental questions of knowledge, language, text, authorship, authority, discourse, translation, intertextuality, cultural value, disciplinarity, and interdisciplinarity.

History: including the material history of books: their production, transmission, and description; history of the discipline of English, history of genres and media, history of social contexts and institutions, including gender, class, and colonization.

Special topics and problems: including material not easily subsumed under the categories of methodology, theory, or history.

In addition to faculty members from Switzerland, other internationally-recognised scholars are regularly invited to participate in doctoral programme events. It is hoped that every doctoral student in Switzerland will take part in at least one workshop or seminar every year. Doctoral students, members of the corps intermédiaire, and professors from the five participating universities are reimbursed for travel, food, and lodging expenses according to CUSO norms.

The programme is overseen by a Comité scientifique consisting of one member from each of the four CUSO universities (Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, and Neuchâtel) as well as the University of Berne. The programme director is Prof. Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, from the University of Neuchâtel, who is assisted in this capacity by the programme coordinator Dr Rahel Orgis.