Chair, Professor LEYLA ROUHI

Professors: BELL-VILLADA, NORTON*, ROUHI. Associate Professor: S. FOX. Assistant Professors: FRENCH, MARTIN*, PIEPRZAK. Visiting Professor: NICASTRO. Visiting Assistant Professors: HATTON, LEWIS. Lecturers: DESROSIERS, GLOVER. Bolin Fellow: TANAKA. Teaching Associates: FERNÁNDEZ, LEROY, MANDRI, RENEDO§, SÁNCHEZ§§, VANEL.


MAJOR-French Language and Literature

The French major seeks to provide training in literary and cultural analysis and linguistic expression through the study of selected texts from the French-speaking world. Emphasis is placed on the changes in form and subject matter from the early modern period to the contemporary era.

The major consists of nine courses above the 105 level with optimally one course each from the following areas:

1) Poetry and Poetics

2) Prose Narrative and Fiction

3) Theatre and Dramatic Literature

4) Thematics, Special Topics, Survey Courses

Students must also take a 400-level capstone seminar which may count toward any of the four required areas.

As RFLR 104 is a special course that replaces 105 and 106 for those students starting French at the 103 level, 104 will count towards the major as a substitute for RLFR 106.

Students entering the major program at the 109/110-level may, with the permission of the Department, choose as part of their major program, one course in Art History, History, Philosophy, Comparative Literature or other subjects that relate to and broaden their study of French. Students entering the major program at the 200-level may, in some cases and with the permission of the Department, include two such courses in their major program.

Working with the major advisor, the student will formulate a curricular plan that will ensure balance and coherence in courses taken. Such balance and coherence will be based on the above areas of literary and cultural investigation. Prospective majors should discuss their program with the major advisor by the end of their sophomore year. This is especially imperative for students who are planning to spend a part or all of their junior year in France.

Inasmuch as all courses in French assume the active participation of each student in discussions conducted in the foreign language, regular attendance at class meetings is expected.

MAJOR-French Studies

The major in French Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge embracing the cultural, historical, social, and political heritage of France and the Francophone world. The program allows for an individualized course of study involving work in several departments and the opportunity to study abroad.

Students electing the French Studies major should register with the French Studies faculty advisor during their sophomore year. At that time they should submit a feasibility plan that articulates their projected program.

The French Studies major consists of ten courses satisfying the following requirements:

1) at least two courses in French language and/or literature above the French 103 level;

2) a senior seminar;

3) Electives: The remaining courses needed to complete the major must be drawn from at least three different departments and relate primarily to an aspect of the culture, history, society, and politics of France and the Francophone world. These courses will be selected in consultation with members of the Department of Romance Languages. Appropriate electives might include:

History 331 The French and Haitian Revolutions

Religion 301 Psychology of Religion

All courses in French literature and language above the 103 level.

In addition, students should take at least two non-language courses that are taught in French.


Honors candidates are required to have maintained a GPA of 3.5 in the major to qualify for submitting a thesis proposal.

By May 15th of their junior year, candidates will have found a thesis advisor, and given the Department a three- to five-page proposal and a preliminary bibliography. (In some cases, and upon consultation with the Department, candidates will have the option to choose a second reader in addition to their primary advisor; for example, when the thesis is interdisciplinary enough in nature that it requires the expertise of an additional reader).

This proposal will be discussed by the Department; by June 1st, the candidate will be informed whether he/she can proceed with the thesis, and if so, what changes need to be made to the focus and scope of the project. The summer before the senior year will be spent compiling a more detailed bibliography and reading.

Upon their return to Williams, candidates will devote to their theses two semesters of independent study (beyond the nine courses required for the major) and the winter study period of their senior year (493-W31-494). The thesis will be written in French and will usually not be shorter than fifty pages. By the end of the Fall semester, students will normally have a clear outline of the project, have done substantial research, and produced the draft of at least the first half of the project. During January this draft will be suitably rewritten and edited with a view to a final version, while the candidates will also begin work on remaining chapters.

Candidates will submit what they have written to the department on the last day of Winter Study.

On the Tuesday of the first week of the spring semester candidates will make a presentation of the project at a departmental colloquium in French. The thesis will be promptly discussed and evaluated to determine whether or not the student should continue in the honors program. The second semester of independent thesis work will be spent writing more chapters, as well as revising, rewriting, and polishing the project where necessary. The completed thesis in its final form will be due on April 25th. At the end of the Spring term, the student will present and defend the final project before members of the Department and others by invitation. The grade will be awarded once members of the Department have consulted after the defense.


The Certificate in French Language and Cultures consists of a sequence of seven courses for which the student must earn a cumulative grade average of B or higher. In addition, the student must take a proficiency test and achieve a score of "Advanced." The test will be administered by the department once a year during the month of April to all students desirous of obtaining the Certificate. Those interested should express their intent to the chair of the department by March 1 or earlier.
For students with no prior French background, the course sequence will consist of French 101-102,

French 103 and 104, and three courses in French above the 104 level, with at least one of these courses at the 200-level or higher taken at Williams. If the student starts out the sequence at French 103, in addition to the three courses in French beyond the 104 level (including a 200-level course or higher), two electives may be taken in other departments. One elective should be in French or Francophone cultural history (art, literature, drama, music) and the other in French or Francophone intellectual, political or social history.

See French Studies Major description above for list of possible electives in other departments.


A placement test in French is administered at Williams at the opening of the fall semester. Incoming first-year students who register for any French course above the 101-102 level must take this test, regardless of their previous preparation.


French majors are strongly advised to complete part of the requirements for the major by studying abroad either during the academic year or the summer. Most American study-in-France programs require applicants to have completed a fifth-semester, college-level French course (French 105, for example) before they go abroad. A special affiliation with the Hamilton Junior Year in France program enables Williams students (who have completed 105) to participate in a comprehensive academic and cultural experience in a French-speaking environment. Credit for up to four courses towards the major can be granted at the discretion of the Department: normally 2 major credit for one semester and up to 4 major credits for a full year or two semesters. The final assignment of credit will be authorized in consultation with the student's major advisor once the student has returned to Williams. Such credits can only be determined by review of course format, course materials, and evidence of satisfactory academic performance. Students interested in studying abroad need to consult with faculty members in French by the second semester of their first year. Early planning is essential. Because the academic quality of certain programs of study in France may well be beneath the pedagogical standards normally associated with a Williams education, students will receive major credit for only those programs recommended by the Department. Please consult a faculty member to find out which programs are acceptable. Normally, the Department does not administer proficiency exams (for study abroad) to any student who has not completed a French course at Williams.