Pierre Azou


Hi! I’m Pierre, a second-year PhD student in the Department of French and Italian — or rather, to me, the Department of French, as Italian is only at undergrad level (but I do get to hang out with cool Italian people every now and then, and hear la bella lingua italiana).

 I grew up in the suburbs of Paris, where I moved for my study at 18 ­— so I am indeed a Frenchman studying French in the USA. I’m happy to explain why it does make sense on the academic side; on the personal one, it’s quite simply that, while I do love French culture, I’ve always felt happier abroad, especially in international environments: in Scotland for two years of study abroad at 20 and 25, in London for an internship, in a small college in Pennsylvania as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, and finally here at Princeton. I’m therefore excited to be part of a diverse Forbes community, and happy to share my “uprooted” experience with those of you who may find it difficult to adjust to a new culture.

 Although my program here focuses on French literature, my first course of study was in politics (broadly understood: history, political philosophy, economics, law…) in a college-like French institution called the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris — with a later specialization in Public Affairs. In the spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “littérature engagée” (“committed literature”), I want to write a thesis that weaves together these two strands of my study — bringing literature to bear on the issues of our time, especially extreme ones (I’m thinking of terrorism for my thesis). Which means there are virtually no current topics I’m not interested in, so please let’s debate, anything, anytime.

 Apart from thus worrying about the state of the world, I enjoy practicing all kinds of sports (from tennis to swimming to trying to figure out how that machine works at the gym), cooking (notably the famous ratatouille), singing while vaguely strumming a guitar, and watching movies old and new (but mostly old).