French and Francophone Studies Major

Overview of Program

The World Languages and Cultures Department offers a major and a minor in French and Francophone Cultural Studies.

The major is composed of courses in language, literature, film, and culture whose objectives are to

  1. educate students to become global citizens by familiarizing themselves with a non-Anglophone language and culture (specifically French/Francophone)
  2. provide students with competency in a language other than their own, a skill that can help them pursue multiple professional goals ranging from education to business to medicine.

In fact, the French major is almost always part of a double major and is usually combined with a major in business  or with a pre-med curriculum. The major is currently staffed by one faculty member (French and Italian) and a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant. 

Learn about the French minor

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Why study French?

  • Over 220 million speak French on five continents, making it the sixth most widely spoken in the world
  • French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English.
  • It is the language of diplomacy & the official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross, the international courts, and more.
  • French is useful in the medical field with many NGO medical organizations using French as their primary language.
  • French is spoken all over the world, from France to Canada to Vietnam to West Africa to the Caribbean Islands, offering opportunities for travel and cultural enrichment.

Requirements of the Major

The major consists of courses progressing from the two-sequence Beginning French (101/102), to Intermediate French (211/212), to Advanced Composition and Conversation (311/312). Students pursuing a major or minor and those with an advanced level of proficiency can also enroll in one of the 300- and 400-level upper-division courses that allow students to:

  1. Develop knowledge of French and Francophone culture through Survey of French Literature, French or Francophone Culture and Civilization, French Short Story, French Theater and more. 
  2. Acquire skills in the practical and professional application of the language (e.g.The Craft of Translation).
  3. Learn skills necessary to use French in the world of business (Business French) or in the medical professions (Medical French).
  4. An additional course, LIT 323 E/F Topics in French and Francophone Cinema is offered as part of the Languages across the Curriculum (LxC) program and is therefore taught in English and open to non-French speaking students. Independent Studies are also offered and are available on an as-needed basis.

Students majoring in French typically complete part of their coursework in France during a semester in an approved program (namely in Paris or Rennes, in partnership with the CIEE).

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Senior language majors are also required to complete a senior portfolio prior to graduation.

 Learn about the senior portfolio 

French Courses

Language Skills:

  • Beginning French I & II:
    • Foundation in comprehending, speaking, reading, and writing the French language.  
  • Intermediate French I & II:
    • Greater scope and depth to the student’s knowledge of the French language and Francophone culture. 
  • French Conversation: 
    • Intensive French conversation, emphasizing cross-cultural comparisons, and development of self-expression.
  • French Composition: 
    • Intensive writing, grammar, analysis, and composition in French.


  • French Cultural Heritage: 
    • This course aims to develop understanding of the culture, literature and civilization of France. 
  • Survey of French Culture and Civilization:
    • A review of the geography, history, art and other components of the heritage of continental France, from antiquity to the present.
  • Survey of Francophone Culture and Civilization:
    • A historical view of the cultural contribution and heritage of French-speaking peoples living outside continental France.
  • French-Francophone Politics and Society: 
    • The course addresses the historical, social and cultural aspect of France’s imperialistic expansion, with particular emphasis on French relations, past and present, with the African colonies.  

The Professions:

  • Business French:
    • An overview of the spoken and written language of the French business world, including letter writing, banking, import/export, and other commercial transactions and terminology from business-related areas such as finance, insurance and international commerce within a contemporary cultural setting.
  • The Craft of Translation: 
    • A study of the techniques of translation with emphasis on accurate terminology and proper syntax when translating newspaper articles, legal documents, medical records, business records and correspondence, essays, poems, songs, and short fiction.

Literature & Drama:

  • Introduction to French Literature:
    • An introduction to the principal literary genres of poetry, novel, short story, essay and drama, through analysis of representative works in the French tradition.
  • Women Writers of the Francophone World: 
    • Women’s view of themselves and the world as reflected in their literary creations.
  • French Short Story:
    • Principal practitioners of the short story in French, including contemporary authors.
  • The French Theater: 
    • An inquiry into the various forms of the French theater through a study of significant representative works from different periods.
  • Francophone Literature: 
    • An overview of different forms of literary expression throughout the Francophone world from Africa to Haiti to Quebec, focusing on main literary currents, ideology, political climates, and linguistic traditions in each country. 
  • Literature of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: 
    • This course provides an overview of different literary genres and literary currents through in depth reading and analysis of exemplary texts written in French in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Twentieth Century French Drama: 
    • The development of dramatic forms from the Théâtre Libre to the present.

Contact Information


Marzia Caporale, Ph.D., Professor of French and Italian

To learn more about the French program, contact Dr. Caporale:

Dr. Marzia Caporale
319 O'Hara Hall

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