Essay / Art

Cramming for the French Test

Back in 1995, I found myself in a situation that is common for graduate students: needing to demonstrate basic reading knowledge of a modern language in case I should need it in my future research. The kind of knowledge required isn’t exactly what you’d call learning the language, certainly not with any fluency. But it does equip a young scholar with the ability to read footnotes, book titles, and, at a pinch, articles and books in a specific field. With the annual exam date approaching, I dedicated the whole month to learning enough French to pass the test by translating a page of theology. To make things a little more fun, I decided to draw one square cartoon panel for each day I studied, up to the looming deadline. I think anybody who’s ever crammed for a big test will recognize some of the ups and downs of the process in this little comic, which I recently found in my files and realized I had never published. So here it is: 26 Days ‘to the French Test.

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