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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts in French

The French section offers a major and a minor in French. Students are encouraged to pursue a course of study tailored to their individual needs and interests. A degree in French serves as a stepping stone to entering international business, law, translation, and teaching, or as preparation for graduate studies in French, history, or comparative literature.

The French literature, culture, and civilization specialization allows students to combine their work in French with work from another field such as African studies, linguistics, art history, music, economics, history, education, medicine, international relations, political science, or other foreign languages and literatures. The literature and philosophy specialization offers students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of literature and philosophy in a structured manner and alongside similarly interested students from a variety of humanistic disciplines.

Students who complete the department's two quarter IHUM sequence are eligible for 5 units towards the French major or minor. Students enrolled in the French language discussion section of the IHUM sequence receive, in addition to these 5 units, an additional 4 units (2 per quarter), assuming that they complete the written work in French.

Prerequisites—Before declaring a French major, a student must be proficient in written and spoken French at a second-year college level. Such proficiency must be demonstrated either:

  1. by having completed the entire language sequence up to and including FRENLANG 23;
  2. by having scored a 5 or better on the French language Advanced Placement (AP) exam; or
  3. by having demonstrated equivalent proficiency on the Language Center placement exam offered at the beginning of each academic quarter.

Students not meeting at least one of these criteria are required to complete the portion of the language sequence as deemed necessary by the department before beginning to take courses toward the major.



The French major requires a minimum of 56 units, all courses of which must be taken for a letter grade and must be selected in accordance with the following requirements:

  1. Advanced language (ca. 4 units): At least one course from the following:

    FRENLANG 121. Introduction to French Texts

    FRENLANG 122. Introduction to French Culture and Civilization

    FRENLANG 124. Advanced French Grammar

    FRENLANG 126. French Stylistics and Textual Analysis

    OSPPARIS 125P. Advanced French II

  2. Introductory series on French and Francophone literature and culture (ca. 12 units): Three courses must be taken from the FRENLIT 130 sequence. Any one of these courses fulfills the Writing in the Major requirement.

    FRENLIT 130. Authorship, Book Culture, and National Identity in Medieval and Renaissance France

    FRENLIT 131. Absolutism, Enlightenment, and Revolution in 17th- and 18th-Century France

    FRENLIT 132. Literature, Revolutions, and Changes in 19th- and 20th-Century France

    FRENLIT 133. Literature and Society in Africa and the Caribbean

  3. Research Seminar (5 units): A majors-only seminar, DLCL 189, must be taken in Autumn Quarter of the senior year. This course prepares and assists students as they undertake either their senior project (see below) or honors thesis. It also familiarizes them with research resources in the department and University and helps students think critically about their research topics. By the end of the course, students must have chosen an adviser, generally a faculty member in the department, who offers support and feedback throughout the development of the senior project or honors thesis.
  4. Ancien Rťgime courses (ca. 8 units): At least two courses must concern the period before July 1789. Courses fulfilling this requirement within the department must be drawn from the 140 level or above. Courses chosen from outside the department must be preapproved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

    FRENGEN 204. Songs of Love and War: Gender Crusade, Politics

    FRENGEN 233. The Afterlife of the Middle Ages

    FRENGEN 273. Post-Revolutionary Passions

    FRENLIT 202. Inventing the Enlightenment

    FRENLIT 223. Ficton and Interpretation: Rabelais' Trilogy

  5. Upper-level French courses (ca. 8 units): At least two additional courses must be taken within the department. In total, at least 32 units of course work must be taken within the department. No more than three courses numbered lower than 130 may be counted towards the major.

    FRENGEN 181. Philosophy and Literature

    FRENGEN 192E. Images of Women in French Cinema: 1930-1990

    FRENGEN 228E. Getting Through Proust

    FRENGEN 242. Women Mystics from the Middle Ages to the Present

    FRENGEN 252. Historiography of Theater

    FRENGEN 265. The Problem of Evil in Literature, Film, and Philosophy

    FRENGEN 267. French and Italian Literary Theory

    FRENGEN 289. French and Italian Women Writers

    FRENLIT 148. Outsiders, Conspirators, and the Masses: 19th-Century French Fiction

    FRENLIT 167. The Essayistic Tradition in 20th-Century France

    FRENLIT 252. Theater of the Absurd

    FRENLIT 278. Special Topic in French and Francophone Literature: From Exoticism to a Discourse of Auto-Representation

    FRENLIT 293A/B. Topics in French Literature and Philosophy

  6. Remaining courses (ca. 22 units): The student is encouraged to use the remaining five or more courses to develop a specialized knowledge of a specific domain related to either the senior project or the honors thesis. These courses must show obvious internal consistency and relevance to the chosen focus, and must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Where possible, students are encouraged to complete their written work in French. Of these courses, only one, for a maximum of 4 units, may be drawn from individual work (FRENLIT 199).

Cognate Courses—Credits earned for completion of the following cognate courses may be applied to unit requirements for the departmental major:

ANTHRO 380. Practice and Performance: Bourdieu, Butler, Giddens, de Certeau

COMPLIT 101. What is Literature?

DLCL 189. Honors Thesis Seminar

OSPPARIS 030. The Avant-garde in France through Literature, Art and Theater

OSPPARIS 031. American Writers in 20th-Century Paris

OSPPARIS 038. First Language Acquisition, with Emphasis on French

OSPPARIS 047. Women in French Cinema

OSPPARIS 056. From Text to Stage: Transformation of French Theater in the 19th and 20th Centuries

OSPPARIS 107Y. The Age of Cathedrals: Religious Art and Architecture in Medieval France

OSPPARIS 186F. Contemporary African Literature in French

Relevant courses from other departments or programs may also earn credit toward the major with the consent of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Senior Project—In order to demonstrate the quality of his or her scholarly work and command of written French, each major not writing an honors thesis (see "Honors Program" below) is required to submit a senior project to the project adviser before May 15 of the senior year. The project consists of a research paper with a target length of 20 pages and must be written in French.

The senior project is not graded and no credit is offered for it. However, acceptance of the senior project by the project adviser is a condition for graduation from the department. A paper deemed unsatisfactory by the project adviser is returned to the student for rework and resubmission by an agreed-upon date.

Students are advised to begin thinking about their senior projects as early as their junior year, even if they are in Paris. While in Paris, students should avail themselves of the unique resources the city has to offer for research on their chosen topic.


The French and Philosophy major specialization requires a minimum of 16 courses, for a minimum total of 65 units, distributed as follows:

  1. Advanced language (ca. 4 units): At least one course from the following: FRENLANG 121, FRENLANG 122, FRENLANG 124, FRENLANG 126, or OSPPARIS 125P.
  2. Introductory Series on French and Francophone Literature and Culture (ca. 12 units): Three courses must be taken from the FRENLIT 130 sequence.
  3. Philosophy Writing in the Major (5 units): PHIL 80. Prerequisite: introductory philosophy class.
  4. Philosophy and Literature Gateway Course (4 units): FRENGEN 181 (same as PHIL 81). This course should be taken as early as possible in the student's career, normally in the sophomore year.
  5. Aesthetics, Ethics, Political Philosophy (ca. 4 units): One course from the PHIL 170 series.
  6. Language, Mind, Metaphysics, and Epistemology (ca. 4 units): One course from the PHIL 180 series.
  7. History of Philosophy (ca. 8 units): Two courses in the history of philosophy, numbered above PHIL 100.
  8. Upper Division French Courses (ca. 12 units): At least three courses numbered FRENLIT/FRENGEN 140 or higher.
  9. Related Courses (ca. 8 units): Two upper division courses relevant to the student's chosen area of specialization. One course (4 units) may be FRENLIT 199, Individual Work.
  10. Capstone Seminar (ca. 4 units): This year's capstone seminars are:

    COMPLIT 226. Narrative and Ethics

    ILAC 240E. Borges and Philosophy

    RELSTUD 212. Chuang-Tzu

One of these courses must be taken in the student's senior year.

The capstone seminar and the two related courses must be approved by both the undergraduate adviser of French and the undergraduate adviser of the initiative in philosophical and literary thought administered through the DLCL. Substitutions, including transfer credit, are not normally permitted for items 5, 6, and 7, and are not permitted under any circumstances for items 3, 4, and 10. Up to 10 units of courses taken in the Philosophy department may be taken CR/NC or S/NC; the remainder must be taken for a letter grade.


Requirements for both extended majors are essentially identical to those of the French major with a concentration in French literature.

French and English Literatures—In addition to the requirements for the B.A. in French, candidates complete four English literature courses numbered 100 and above related to their French program.

French and Italian Literatures—In addition to the requirements for the B.A. in French, students complete four Italian courses numbered 200 and above related to their concentration in French.


Linguistics majors may elect to specialize in the French language. In addition to 50 units in Linguistics, of which two courses (LINGUIST 110 and 160) may be replaced by comparable courses in French, students opting for a French Language specialization must take three courses in the introductory series devoted to French and Francophone literature and culture (FRENLIT 130-133). For details, contact the Department of Linguistics.


Students considering a minor in French are encouraged to design a course of studies that fosters their understanding of the interaction between French and their major field of specialization. A minimum of 24 units of undergraduate work beyond the French 23 level must be completed. All courses must be taken for a letter grade.

Requirements for the minor include one advanced language course (at the 120 level); three of the introductory series on French and Francophone literature and culture (FRENLIT 130-133); and a minimum of two additional courses in language or literature numbered 121 and above. Of these, only one may be taught in English. All courses must be chosen in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Courses used to satisfy French minor requirements may not be counted toward a student's major or toward a second minor.


Majors are eligible to apply to the honors program if they have maintained an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in five upper-division French courses. The honors program candidate must fulfill all regular requirements for the major, save the senior project, from which he or she is exempt. Instead, the student undertakes the writing of a research paper no shorter than 50 pages in length, written in French or English, on a specialized topic. No later than the end of Spring Quarter of the junior year, the student must submit to the Director of Undergraduate Studies an Application for Honors, the central portion of which must contain an outline of the proposed honors essay. If it is in need of revisions, the Director of Undergraduate Studies helps the student through the revision process until the proposal is granted his or her approval. The Director of Undergraduate Studies also helps the student identify an appropriate adviser for the essay. Students may enroll for 2 units of credit in FRENLIT 189B for the drafting or revision of the thesis proposal in Spring Quarter of the junior year. In Autumn Quarter of the senior year, honors students must enroll in DLCL 189, a 5-unit seminar that focuses on researching and writing the honors thesis. Students then enroll for 5 units of credit in FRENLIT 189A while composing the thesis during Winter Quarter. Students who did not enroll in a 189B course in the junior year may enroll in FRENLIT 189B in Spring Quarter of the senior year while revising the thesis, if approved by the thesis adviser. A total of 10-12 units are awarded for successful completion of honors course work, independent study, and the finished thesis. Honors essays are due to the thesis adviser no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 15 of the terminal year. If an essay is found deserving of a grade of 'A-' or better by the thesis adviser, honors are granted at the time of graduation.

Honors College—The Department of French and Italian encourages honors students to enroll in the honors college run by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL). The college meets at the end of every summer, during the weeks directly preceding the start of the academic year, and is designed to help students develop their honors thesis projects. Applications must be submitted by Spring Quarter of the same calendar year. For more information, contact the undergraduate student services officer in the DLCL.

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