New Chapters in Old Books

My name is Úna Faller and I am currently studying in Besançon, France, in the Université de Franche-Comté. My Master’s course, alluring titled ‘Rare Books and Digital Humanities’,  seeks to combine the world of old, ancient and scarce books and documents with emerging technologies and systems which can prolong, protect, and promote their existence.

I am from Ireland, where I completed my undergraduate degree in University College Cork, in English and French. I finished in May 2021, knowing I wanted to continue in higher education. Having completed a ‘stage’ with my university’s library in Cork, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in this field,  whilst combining my knowledge and appreciation of French. Once I discovered this course in an online search, applying for it was the only logical next step. 

I was intrigued by the breadth of the course offerings: modules include lessons on Latin, Greek, HTML and open-access software packages such as Scribus and Sublime, while lecturers introduce us to the history of writing and the book, material bibliography and professional practices.

One outstanding aspect of this Master’s is the integration of two internships of different lengths; two months and six months. I’ve already begun looking  for potential ‘stage’ options, and what I’ve found is that there really is a whole professional world out there, with which we are encouraged to engage.

We are also currently completing a team project in collaboration with one of Paris’ biggest libraries, another foray into the working world of books that I could only have dreamed of when sending off my initial application. 

I am also eager to learn more about research practices while developing my idea for my ‘mémoire’ or dissertation.  I’ve decided to complete this work on the representation of menstruation in early and medieval texts. This course is so foreward thinking and professionally aligned that we are given the option to work in pairs for our dissertations, providing crucial teamwork and project management experience for the wider world of work. Even though it is only October of the first semester, I feel ready and supported to delve deeper into the world of research at Master’s level. 

Besançon itself has been another gem to discover; I’ve been here coming up on two months and I absolutely love the city. It is France’s greenest city, with idyllic parks littered with trees appearing on almost every corner. The river Doubs encircles the city centre, supplying the wanderer with boundless opportunity to take stock of the ease of nature and its beauty.

View from Fort de Chaudanne

 I had never heard of this city before finding this Master’s so I am so grateful that both have worked out so well and I am already excited to see what next semester brings.