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This archived information is dated to the 2010-11 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 Epic Journeys 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 an end-of-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 must be taken for a letter grade and can only be used to fulfill the French major requirements. Courses must be selected in accordance with the following requirements:

  1. Advanced language (ca. 4 units)—All students must take:
    • FRENLANG 124. Advanced French Grammar
  2. Gateway courses (ca. 8 units)—Students are recommended to take two courses in the FRENLIT 120 sequence:
    • FRENLIT 120. Coffee and Cigarettes: The Making of French Intellectual Culture
    • FRENLIT 121. French Classics: The Novel
    • FRENLIT 122. Great Moments in French Culture and History
  3. 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. Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance French Literature
    • 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
  4. Medieval/Early Modern courses (ca. 8 units)—At least two courses must concern the period before 1800. 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 Chair of Undergraduate Studies.
    • FRENGEN 172/272. Dream Visions: The Roman de la Rose
    • FRENGEN 219. The Renaissance Body
    • FRENGEN 260. Voltaire's Work and Life, or: Managing Enlightenment
    • FRENLIT 280. Women in Print: Gender, Authorship, and Book Culture in Early Modern France
  5. Capstone course—At least one course must be taken at the 200-level. For this course, the student writes a final paper of no less than 20 pages that engages critically with at least two secondary sources.
  6. Remaining courses—In total, at least 32 units of coursework must be taken within the department. Of these courses, only one, for a maximum of 4 units, may be drawn from individual work (FRENLIT 199). No more than four courses numbered lower than 130 may be counted towards the major. Where possible, students are encouraged to complete their written work in French.

    Upper-level French courses

    • FRENGEN 168. American Writers in 20th-Century Paris
    • FRENGEN 181. Philosophy and Literature
    • FRENGEN 190Q. Parisian Cultures of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
    • FRENGEN 269. Transfigurative Lyric: Baudelaire and Mallarmé
    • FRENGEN 277. Introduction to Rene Girard's Theory: Mimesis, Desire, Violence, and the Sacred
    • FRENGEN 284. Philosophy and Poetry in 20th-Century French and Italian Theory
    • FRENGEN 286. Michel Foucault and Literary Theory
    • FRENLIT 152. Fashion and Image in Post-Romantic Paris
    • FRENLIT 159. Confessions in 19th-Century French Literature
    • FRENLIT 204. Revolutions in Prose: The 19th-Century French Novel
    • FRENLIT 244. The Politics of Spectacle in a Time of Revolution
    • FRENLIT 267. National Literatures, Littérature-monde: A New Comparatism
    • FRENLIT 272. Francophone Literature: Bilingualism and Cultural Polyphonies in North African Literature
    • FRENLIT 293A,B. Topics in French Literature and Philosophy

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

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


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)—All students must take FRENLANG 124. Advanced French Grammar
  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/GERLIT 242. Narrative and Ethics
    • FRENGEN 284. Philosophy and Poetry in 20th-Century French and Italian Theory
    • RELIGST 271A. Dante's Spiritual Vision

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 FRENLANG 124 (Advanced French Grammar); 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 120 and above. Of these, only one may be taught in English. All courses must be chosen in consultation with the Chair 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, as well as 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 Chair 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 Chair of Undergraduate Studies helps the student through the revision process until the proposal is granted his or her approval. The Chair 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 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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