Video: French Majors Enhance Their Studies with Research Abroad

Author: Todd Boruff

Curran Cross

Anne Seul '15

Sometimes, you just have to see things for yourself.

Rising senior Curran Cross and 2015 graduate Anne Seul both spent summers poring over archives in Paris, using funding from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies to travel and bolster their research for senior thesis projects.

A French and history major, Cross examined views of Arab and African immigrants in France since the 19th century, working with resources at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He analyzed political documents, pamphlets, brochures, and creative writing by French authors.

“When you open these documents and see this was written with a quill 300 years ago, it brings history home,” Cross said. “It makes it a lot more immediate.”

Seul, who also majored in French and history, conducted research at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris.

She examined 18th- and 19th-century perceptions of Denis Diderot, the French philosopher best known as the chief editor of Encyclopédie and a key figure influencing the French Revolution.

“Diderot has such a great spirit, and you get that in his works,” Seul said. "He’s the one who’s lighthearted and always making jokes, but at the same time, he’s effecting this great social change.”

As part of her senior thesis project, Seul also traveled to Langres, France, in winter 2015 to conduct additional research on physicist Émilie du Châtelet. She presented her work at a conference, Émilie Du Châtelet: Philosopher & Encyclopédist, at the University of Oxford in May 2015.

This fall, Seul began teaching U.S. history at Sarasota Military Academy Prep in her native Florida.