French is the official language of approximately 30 countries. Students in this department study not only the French language, but also the distinct cultures, art, history, and underlying sensibilities of these diverse Francophone countries. It is our hope that as they encounter the rich, incisive language of Francophone literature and philosophy and the fresh imagery of Francophone art and film, they will find the doors to their own creativity and individual sensibilities opening.
Studying the language, culture, and history of France is first and foremost a means of experiencing a new world. We invite our students to engage with a new language and a widely admired culture.
Most students enter the department with no previous experience studying French. They begin by learning grammar, practicing conversation, and reading texts. Above all, it is crucial that they become familiar with the way their native-speaker teachers pronounce the language. An interest in French literature, art, or philosophy provides an important motivation for accomplishing these initial tasks.
Students develop unique ideas and ways of expressing themselves not only by exploring works of literature, but also by examining contemporary and historic Francophone culture through the lenses of art, music, film, philosophy, history, social issues, fashion and more.
The Department offers a wide range of opportunities to experience French culture firsthand through special classes and events such as film screenings, concerts, lectures by French scholars, and wine seminars.
The Department actively supports students who wish to study abroad during their time as an undergrad. 1-month, 6-month, and 1-year study abroad programs are available at the Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence, Université de Rennes, Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis, and at language schools associated with universities in Paris and Dijon. Students receive credit for their time abroad, allowing them to experience a foreign culture without graduating later than their peers.
The Department’s curriculum is designed to give students a solid foundation in the basics. In addition to language, they study a wide range of Francophone cultures, from France and other countries in Europe to those in Africa and the Caribbean.
Students continue to develop their French abilities through a curriculum of language classes 4 times a week. Other classes offer the opportunity to dig into topics of interest and make presentations.
Starting in the 3rd year, students focus on a field of interest, guided by their participation in one of three specialized programs. All students also participate in seminar-style classes, working together to deepen their knowledge of self-chosen topics and polishing their ability to express themselves and convince others of their opinions – both essential skills after graduation – through discussions and presentations.
The three specialized programs are:
In consultation with their seminar instructors, students decide on a topic for their graduation thesis, which is the culmination of their 4 years of study. They then deepen their research on this topic and write the thesis. Topics are extremely varied.
Graduates of the Department of French Literature work in the finance and insurance industries, as well as in food-related businesses, advertising, publishing, at airline companies, in the travel, fashion, and other industries. Some become junior high and high school teachers or advance to graduate studies, while others build on their time abroad to develop careers as dancers or pastry chefs. The diverse career paths of our graduates reflect the self-directed atmosphere of the Department itself.