[Although this cover letter represents a mid-career search rather than an early career search, the composition is fairly generic: an introductory salutation indicating where I learned of the position; two opening paragraphs devoted to teaching and technology; the following paragraphs devoted to research; the final paragraph regarding the dossier and MLA convention availability.]
December 10, 1992
Dr. Ruth V. Gross, Chair
Department of Foreign Languages
University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, TX 76019
Dear Professor Gross,
I respond to the notice in the MLA -Job Information List- announcing a position at Associate Professor rank in your department for which I hereby wish to apply.
As the enclosed c.v. provides the essential details on my education, work and research activities, I wish to address the points indicated in the job announcement. Covering the full range of courses in French language, literature and civilization, my teaching experience includes courses in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French literature as well as those in my nineteenth-century specialization, In recent years, I have also greatly enjoyed my contact with undergraduates not only in the introductory and intermediate French language sequence, but also in developing interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars both as directed studies (at Franklin & Marshall) and as courses for Honor's and Women's Studies programs (at Tulane). I have also taught several graduate courses and seminars in my nineteenth-century specialization as well as in contemporary theory.
I believe that my most extensive experience has been in contacts with the development of French thought and in explaining its complex relations to the socio-political transformations in French culture. Besides three years abroad as a student (1969-70, 1972-74), I served as director of two junior year programs, the first organized my Knox College in Besançon (1977-78), the second by the CIEE in Rennes (1981-82). This work was quite helpful in preparing French civilization courses in several curricular frameworks, and I approached each as a means to help the students conceptualize linguistic and literary studies in terms of their emergence from and situation within evolving political structures. At Wayne State, I have enhanced the one-semester -survol- further by developing a MacIntosh Hypercard program, entitled "Gavroche," that serves as a supplemental documentary resource not only for students studying civilization, but also potentially for all students enrolled in courses of the French studies sequence.
Regarding my research, besides two books (on the fiction of Jules Vallès and Stendhal), several recently published articles, and a special issue of -SubStance- on Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus- for which I served as guest editor, I have completed a manuscript currently under review at a university press, -"The Art of Rupture": Narrative Desire and Duplicity in the Tales of Guy de Maupassant-. In this study, I examine the author's strategies of textualizing narrative desire and sexual difference and of drawing the reader into a duplicitous relation to this complex process. I am also developing a series of studies of the works of Deleuze and Guattari that I am planning to organize in manuscript form.
Besides the aforementioned special courses at Tulane -- the
Honor's course, "Semiotics
and Society," and the Women's Studies course, "Women's Textualities" -- , my experience with work from a comparative perspective is developing through my current, long-term project in the domain of Francophone cultural studies on Cajun dance and music, tentatively entitled "Spaces of Affect: Forms and Feeling in Louisiana Cajun Dance Culture." This research represents an exciting confluence of my recent personal and professional activities, for it allows me to explore the processes of reconstitution of feeling (i.e. of what I call "spaces of affect") through which Cajun musicians and dancers/ spectators together create regular dialogical exchanges in their reciprocal musical and dance performances. I have been quite fortunate to have been able to extend this project with a three-week field and library trip to Louisiana in June funded by a Wayne State summer grant, and I now intend to collate this material in view of applying for outside research support.
I have requested that my placement file be forwarded to you from the Educational Placement Office at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. I will attend the MLA convention, arriving 12/26, and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this position further with you and your colleagues.
I look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks.
Charles J. Stivale