BA in French Language, Literature, and Culture

Why major in French at GW?

French is, and always has been, a global language. Our courses provide a historical and contemporary perspective on French and Francophone literature, culture, and society. Our curriculum fosters deep engagement with cultural production of the French-speaking world and encourages you to develop and hone critical thinking and analytical writing skills. In your courses you will study literature, film, visual arts, music, history, theater, popular culture, and creative writing. We seek to promote an understanding of different cultures as profoundly interconnected.

We welcome double majors from all disciplines and invite motivated students to compete for departmental honors. Our senior majors pursue an in-depth research project on a topic of their choice that can link to their interests outside of the department. Our recent graduates have pursued careers in foreign service, international development, business, secondary and higher education, law and medicine.

Note: AP credits do not count toward the French major or minor. For IB credits, please consult with your French program advisor.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

Prerequisite courses
FREN 1001Basic French I
FREN 1002Basic French II
FREN 1003Intermediate French I
FREN 1004Intermediate French II
FREN 2005Language, Culture, and Society I
Required for the major
30 credits including:
FREN 3100Introduction to French Literature
FREN 4910Proseminar: Readings for the Major
FREN 4920WProseminar II
Seven additional upper-level courses numbered 2006 and above. Four of these courses must be in French literature and culture. Two must be FREN courses in the 4000 range. With approval of the major advisor, two may be in a related field.
FREN 2500Cultural Politics of Food in France
FREN 3010WAdvanced French Language, Structure, and Composition
FREN 3020Contemporary France
FREN 3100WIntroduction to French Literature
FREN 3210Medieval and Early Modern French Literature in Context
FREN 3220Modern French Literature
FREN 3290Textual Analysis
FREN 3300Topics in French and Francophone Literatures and Cultures in Translation
FREN 3400Studies in Genre
FREN 3500Race, Religion, and Identity in France
FREN 3520The Age of Classicism
FREN 3530The Age of Enlightenment
FREN 3550Studies in Twentieth-Century French Literature
FREN 3560Topics in Contemporary Francophone Literature and Cinema
FREN 3600Special Topics in French Literature
FREN 3700History of French Cinema
FREN 4135Folger Seminar
FREN 4470Writing Women
FREN 4500Studies in Medieval French Literature
FREN 4510French Literature of the Renaissance
FREN 4540Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Culture
FREN 4600Special Topics in French Literature
FREN 4700Race Matters: Literature, Culture, and Identity in Contemporary France

French Major Advising

Masha Belenky

"Being a French major has given me a unique appreciation for the value of literature as both beautiful art and as a tool for understanding French society at a given time period. Never did I think I'd be able to learn about the social critiques of French society from 17th century fairy tales or how comedy in the Middle Ages reflected values about hierarchy and knighthood. The year-long Proseminar course has been a highlight of my senior year where I got to do an in-depth study of one of my favorite authors, Albert Camus, while growing as a writer alongside the other French majors. Not only did studying French open my mind academically, it allowed me to gain new life experiences studying abroad as an exchange student at Sciences-Po Paris. The GW French Department equipped me with the language proficiency to excel inside and outside of the classroom so that I could speak confidently in a full immersion experience."

Madeleine Pye, Class of 2019

"Shortly after starting my first French literature course at GW, I knew I wanted to major in it. I was intrigued, excited, and inspired by the challenges I met along the way. Those challenges were made easier by the support of my classmates and the individualized attention from our department’s professors. It was those personal connections, a precious thing at a university as large as GW, that made my experience as a French major so valuable and left me with many fond memories that I will not soon forget."

Andrew Allard, Class of 2019

"Studying French at GW allowed me to explore multiple interests simultaneously.  In Professor Kleppinger's courses, 20th Century Francophone Film & Literature, and The History of French Cinema, and in Professor Belenky's course, From Page to Screen, I gained a fuller understanding of the important role that movies play in French society and the centrality of this cultural export to France and the francophone world today.  Courses like these provide students with a holistic view of the French language and the peoples who speak it.  Thanks to my experience studying French at GW, I am able to apply my language skills to my current work in cultural diplomacy at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, where I help promote French-Canadian culture and business."

Nelson Tamayo, Class of 2015

“I think the French major is a gem in a sea of overly-perused concentrations at GW. Besides its many strengths, it becomes extremely personalized when there are only 7 of you in a 2500-person class. The Proseminar was the only course I looked forward to attending every week and its intimacy made each and every one of us feel special. I'm not exaggerating when I say I learned the most about a subject I was passionate about from that class."

Annabel de Braganca, Class of 2011