Our curriculum

Beyond providing mastery of the language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), the main objective of the French program is to develop students' awareness of the French and Francophone literary and cultural tradition. Our coursework exposes majors and minors to the wealth of cultural experiences in the French speaking world and gives students a solid knowledge of French and Francophone thought, literature, arts and visual media.

Survey courses and upper-division seminars offer a range of exposure to the French cultural past and the vast ethnic and national diversity of the French-speaking present. The major explores distinctly French contributions to world culture and allows students to familiarize themselves with the history, forms and conventions of a rich literary and artistic tradition. In addition to covering a broad range of historical periods, trans-cultural approaches and topics ranging from Enlightenment political thought to animal studies and France's relations with the Muslim world, the French curriculum brings far-flung periods and places to life. It links analysis of contemporary cultural phenomenon with more distant historical epochs and texts. Medieval epic is studied in tandem with "Game of Thrones," for example, or the history of Caribbean slavery with the figure of the Zombie. All courses for the major and minor are interdisciplinary and associate elements of other disciplines such as media studies, art history, science studies, philosophy, ecology or anthropology with the study of texts and other cultural artifacts.

Recent course topics include FREN 1200 Medieval Epic and Romance/Game of Thrones; FREN 1900 Modern Paris; FREN 1880 Zombie and the Ghost of Slavery; FREN 3800 France and the Muslim World; FREN 4110 Special Topics: Tourists, Exiles and other Outsiders; FREN 4700 Animal Encounters.

Program goals and requirements

The undergraduate degree in French emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • critical thinking;
  • significant works of textual and visual culture in the French-speaking world;
  • a range of French Literature, its historical and cultural context seen from an interdisciplinary perspective (in relation with art, philosophy, religion) as well as methods of literary and other media analyses;
  • contemporary French culture, politics and current events.

In addition, Students completing their degrees in French are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • speak and understand modern French - both in daily life and academic setting;
  • read and write modern and standard French for all academic and professional settings;
  • follow with reasonable comprehension French broadcasts of film;
  • analyze and interpret texts or visual representations;
  • become familiar with a range of cultural expressions and literary genres;
  • become familiar with critical methodologies.

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required French courses. Students wishing to pursue an Honors major should also consult the Honors requirements.

Note: Students undertaking a major in French should expect to have regular conferences with a college advisor and the French Department Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies to ensure they are making adequate progress and that requirements are being met in a timely way. The department will not certify majors for graduation when a failure to satisfy requirements is the fault of the student.

A minimum of 30 upper-division credit hours in French must be completed (see Requirements for specific courses). FREN 2120 or its equivalent is the prerequisite for admission to courses required for the major.