McEldowney, Paul


Language: Vietnam

Location of Study: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Program of Study: Vietnamese National University

Sponsors: Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures.

Blog URL:


A brief personal bio:

I am a Vietnamese-American PhD Candidate in philosophy at Notre Dame. In 2013, I completed a B.A. in philosophy and B.S. in mathematics at the University of California, Irvine. In 2017, I completed an M.A. in philosophy and M.S. in mathematics at Notre Dame. I hold research interests in a variety of areas such as logic, the philosophy of mathematics, 19th and 20th century European philosophy, and Vietnamese philosophy.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

Chief among my research interests is the relationship between Vietnamese and French philosophers throughout the 20th century. In particular, I am interested in the ideas of the Vietnamese philosopher Tran Duc Thao, whose work was indispensable for the transmission of German phenomenology to the French-speaking world. My research on Thao concerns the relationship between Thao’s philosophy and his major interlocutors (e.g., Cavailles, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre) in the 1930s and 40s at the Sorbonne in Paris. Thao wrote in both French and Vietnamese, and as such, it is necessary for my project to master both languages. Having already been trained in French, it is imperative that I acquire a level of competency to read his published and unpublished writings. The SLA Grant will allow me to continue the language training needed to pursue this research project.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

I will be taking an 8-week language course at the Vietnamese National University in Ho Chi Minh City. Their curriculum covers all aspects of language learning with special focus on written and aural comprehension, conversational speaking, and writing. I expect to reach arrive closer to the kind of linguistic competency needed to comprehend, analyze, and most importantly, appreciate Vietnamese philosophical and literary texts in their original language. The kind of appreciation towards which I strive does not merely center around ideas, but also around the very language in which these ideas are expressed. I am hopeful to reach my goals given my background as a heritage-speaker and my prior training in Vietnamese.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to read and analyze dense philosophical prose in the Vietnamese language.

2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to appreciate the the manner in which philosophical and literary ideas are expressed in Vietnamese.

3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to communicate with Vietnamese scholars and archivist.