Romance Languages and Literatures

French and Francophone Studies Undergraduate Programs

A major or minor in French and Francophone Literature and Culture prepares students to succeed in our pluri-lingual and globalized world. Culture and commerce alike require culturally-sensitive, adaptable individuals with strong critical thinking skills who are equipped to communicate effectively with a range of interlocutors. Our faculty teach students how to read and analyze texts with rigor and insight, write carefully and with well-supported arguments, and refine their written and oral expression.

Interdisicplinary Study

Because the French program routinely cross-lists courses with other departments, students interested in a cultural studies model may apply towards their major or minor courses in departments such as Art History, Theater and Performance Studies, Music, or Cinema and Media Studies. Our students are often double majors who bring to the classroom a multiplicity of perspectives that enrich our interdisciplinary approach to the study of language, literature, and culture. In addition, students with competence in Spanish, Italian, Catalan, or Portuguese may wish to pursue a degree in more than one Romance language. Students who complete a BA thesis may be nominated for the Neff Prize.

Requirements for Major in French and Francophone Literature, Culture, and Society

The major program in French consists of ten courses beyond FREN 20300 Language, History, and Culture III. One course must be either FREN 20500 Ecrire en français or FREN 20503 Modes De Raisonnement Francais (taught in Paris). The remaining courses should be upper-level courses in or related to French, and determined according to the student’s major track. There are two tracks, intended to give students the flexibility to explore their own interests while developing in-depth knowledge of the language, literature, and culture of the Francophone world.

Students who elect the major program must meet with the French undergraduate adviser before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the major and to complete the required paperwork. Students choose their track and appropriate courses in consultation with the French undergraduate adviser. Students must submit to the departmental office an approval form for the major program signed by the French undergraduate adviser by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year. Students must then submit a copy of the signed approval form to their College adviser.

For full program details, see the College Catalog. A summary of requirements is available here.

Requirements for Minor in French and Francophone Studies

The minor program in French and Francophone Studies requires a total of six courses beyond the second-year language sequence (20100-20300). One course must be FREN 20500 Ecrire en français or FREN 20503 Modes De Raisonnement Francais. The remaining courses must consist of five courses in advanced language (20601 and above), literature, society, and culture, including at least one introductory-level course in French. At least one of the courses (at any level) must include pre-nineteenth-century material. With approval from the French undergraduate adviser, one course may be taken outside the department.

Students who elect the minor program must meet with the French undergraduate adviser before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the minor. Students choose courses in consultation with the French adviser. Students must submit to the departmental office an approval form for the minor program signed by the French adviser. Students must then submit a copy of the signed approval form to their College adviser.

For full program details, see the College Catalog. A summary of requirements is available here.

Study Abroad

We strongly encourage all of our majors and minors to study abroad. It is when immersed in another culture that the language becomes alive, and opportunities for communication become relevant in a way that the classroom cannot fully capture. The University of Chicago offers many Study Abroad programs at the Paris Center, both during the academic year and in the summer. The courses taken as part of the Civilization sequence in French may be applied to the major or minor.  In addition, students wishing to travel to other Francophone countries or regions may apply for summer funding for language study through the France Chicago Center or by applying for a FLAG grant. The Center for Latin American Studies offers courses in first and second year Haitian Kreyol.

French at UChicago

Students are also encouraged to join the French Club, a dynamic student-run organization that organizes events of wide political and cultural interest, and provides a welcoming space for social interaction. Meetings are held Fridays from 5:00-6:00pm. 

Language Study at the University of Chicago

"Six Things You Never Learned in French Class" (Unless you took French at the University of Chicago)

Alumni

Our alumni have gone on to excel in a wide range of areas. Many have chosen to spend a year in France following the completion of their degree by participating in the TAPIF program, which provides English-language conversation leaders in French classrooms. Others have continued their education by pursuing doctoral degrees at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, New York University, and Columbia University, or have become education providers at the K-12 level, often by participating in the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). Other students have gone on to careers in law, medicine, and public policy, while still others work as journalists, writers, translators, news production assistants, and in many other fields.  

Recent graduates say:

The French major literally expanded my conception of the world, including my awareness of the opportunities for me in it.  Studying a foreign language and living abroad afforded me a unique perspective on my own country that remains extremely influential on my desire to actively participate in its development to this day. Perhaps as equally valuable, a working knowledge of French never fails to impress at any cocktail party! – Paul Staisunas, AB ‘09

It’s sometimes surprising how few people can read and understand foreign languages, even in a newsroom. Understanding French has given me access to stories that I might not have been able to investigate and pursue otherwise. I also feel I can better understand European affairs and read French perspectives on current events by reading French blogs and newspapers. –Julia Greenberg, AB ’11, working at CNN