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320 Milbank Hall
Department Assistant: Tomara Aldrich

Co-Chairs: Anne Boyman (Senior Lecturer) and Peter T. Connor (Associate Professor)
Professor Emeritus: Serge Gavronsky
Associate Professors: Kaiama L. Glover, Caroline Weber
Assistant Professor: Phillip Usher
Senior Lecturer: Laurie Postlewate
Lecturers: Brian O'Keeffe,  Karen Santos DaSilva, Masha Mimran, Loren Wolfe
Senior Associate: Isabelle Jouanneau-Fertig
Adjunct Lecturers: Sam Bloom, Kari Evanson


The Department’s primary goals are firstly to enable students to develop competence in spoken and written French, and secondly to expose students to the literature and culture of French and French-speaking countries.

In regard to students’ linguistic competence, our specific goals are: 1) To enable students to express themselves on a range of topics with an acceptable degree of fluency and accuracy. 2) To facilitate their comprehension of a variety of texts (both from literature and the media) written in French. 3) To foster students’ confidence in the possibility of their living and studying in a French environment. An important additional objective of the Department is to encourage students to consider studying in France or a Francophone country.  
In the context of the language requirement (the first and second years), this implies a competence premised on students’ ability to achieve, by Intermediate French 2, oral and written fluency. Students will be able to use all tenses in the indicative and subjunctive, to deploy pronouns appropriately and understand the expressive and grammatical utility of conjunctions, rhetorical devices, and so on. Students will have the ability to write a cogent essay in French on a literary or cultural topic, and will possess a vocabulary beyond basic French, including rhetorical and conceptual vocabulary. In the context of the major requirement (the third and fourth years), students will progress to a greater competence in French, including advanced speaking skills, particularly in terms of discussing literary and cultural topics, and writing extended analytical essays. The culmination of a student’s progress is the one-semester cap stone experience in the spring semester of the senior year, where she will write a substantial thesis on a topic of her choice, supervised by senior members of the department, and defended before an appropriately selected committee. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in French are expected to satisfy the following learning outcomes:

  • Read literary texts closely and critically (explication de texte).
  • Discuss complex ideas in French with satisfactory proficiency.
  • Write analytical papers in French using appropriate theoretical and exegetical on given literary or cultural topics with satisfactory proficiency.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of French literature and other cultural materials.
  • Engage fully with another culture in a variety of intellectually sophisticated ways, including close textual analysis.
  • Conduct original research on a literary or cultural topic culminating in a 30 page thesis. For students in the Translation and Literature track the ability to translate a 30 page text from French into English accompanied by an introduction to the work.

New students who have already given evidence of advanced training in French (Advanced Placement Examination with a score of 4 or 5; CEEB examinations with a score of 781) are automatically exempted from the language requirement. All other new students who intend to satisfy their requirement in French will, depending upon their preparation, be placed immediately in the appropriate language course or be asked to take a placement test offered at the start of each semester (see College Calendar for exact dates). Those receiving a sufficiently high grade will be exempted from the language requirement. All others will be placed in French language courses according to their score. For additional information about language courses, students should consult the department chair.

Students who have satisfied the language requirement may immediately enroll in literature and culture courses (BC 3021, BC 3022, BC 3023, BC 3024); and advanced language courses (BC 3006-3019).

In cooperation with Columbia College, the department offers a program at Reid Hall in Paris open to majors and non-majors. Visit the Study Abroad website for more information.