(Department of Romance Languages)

MAJOR-French Language and Literature

The French major consists of nine courses above the 103-104 level including at least two courses at the 200 level, three courses at the 300 level, and a capstone seminar (any 400-level course). These nine courses must represent a balanced and coherent plan of study embracing the principal phases of France's literary heritage from the Renaissance to the present. To ensure that the interest of comprehensiveness is met, students are urged to plan their program carefully in consultation with their major advisor. Students entering the major at the 109 level may, with the permission of the Department, choose as part of their major, one course in Art, History, Philosophy, Literary Studies, or other subjects that relate to and broaden their study of French. Students entering the major at the 200 level may, in some cases and with the permission of the Department, include two such courses in their major.

The major seeks to provide training in literary and cultural analysis and linguistic expression through the study of selected texts. Emphasis is placed on the changes in form and subject matter from the Renaissance to the modern era.

Students intending to major in French, and who are considering spending their junior year in France, should discuss their program with a member of the department during the sophomore year.

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. 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. These courses will be selected in consultation with members of the Department of Romance Languages. Appropriate electives might include:

ArtH 254 Impressionism
History 307 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 in which the course materials are primarily in the language of the region. For students who do not undertake study abroad, these will usually be literature courses.


Two alternative routes are available to those who wish to apply for the degree with honors.

The first of these involves the writing of a senior thesis. Honors candidates are required to 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-W031-494). The thesis will be written in French and will usually be in the range of from forty to sixty pages. Candidates are expected to submit thesis proposals in May of their junior year. By the end of the first semester of the senior year, students will normally have finished the research for the thesis. By the end of the Winter Study Period, candidates will submit to the Department an outline and rough draft of their work. At this time, the student will make a presentation of his project at a departmental colloquium. The thesis will be 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 revising and rewriting the thesis. The completed dissertation in its final form will be due at the end of April. The second route is a group of three clearly related courses (offered by the Department of Romance Languages or by other Departments, such as History, Art, Philosophy, English, etc.), only one of which may be counted in the nine courses comprising the major. One of the courses will be an Independent Study (plus senior year WSP 030). At the end of the Spring semester the student will write an essay that synthesizes the content of the three related courses. Students may apply for this route by November 2 of the senior year.

In the case of both routes to the degree with honors, the Department's recommendation for graduation with honors will be based on the originality and thoroughness of the finished project.


Contact the Department Chair for details.


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 encouraged to complete part of the major requirements by studying abroad either during the academic year or the summer. Through its special affiliation with the Hamilton Junior Year in France, the Department offers a comprehensive academic and cultural experience in a francophone environment. Major credit for study abroad will normally be assigned as follows: up to 1 credit for one semester; up to 3 credits for a full year or two semesters. The final assignment of credit will be authorized in consultation with the student's major advisor upon return to Williams. Such credits can only be determined by review of course format, materials, and evidence of satisfactory academic performance.