Academic program

Courses in French and Francophone studies help students to learn basic communication skills, appreciate other cultures through language, and go beyond the study of language to achieve a deeper understanding of diverse peoples by way of their literatures and other modes of cultural production. Texts and film are analyzed closely from a contemporary critical perspective with attention to their cultural and historical context. All courses are taught in French, except in the case of some courses cross-listed with other departments or programs, which may be taught in English. More information on the Department of French and Francophone Studies is available on the website (

French and Francophone studies aims at flexibility within a structure that affords a diversity of experience in Francophone culture and literature and continuous training in the use of the language. It provides effective preparation for graduate work but is not conceived as strictly preprofessional. The significance of French is highlighted by the college's proximity to Québec and by the large number of Franco-Americans and new Mainers from African countries who live and work in northern New England. In addition to France's literary tradition, the Francophone histories and cultures of North African countries, West Africa, the Caribbean, and Québec have produced writers and artists who have influenced the world broadly with their cultural and artistic dynamism and insight, making French and Francophone cultural production a truly rich and varied platform to explore gender, sexuality, race, religion, and nationality.

Placement in French Courses

Students entering courses in the department are advised of the following general policies and procedures. The beginning (101–102) sequence is reserved for true beginners in the language. Those with more than two years of secondary school study are not admitted at this level and are encouraged to enter at the 200 level, or, in some cases, 102 in the spring semester; students who have followed a conventional sequence of language study in high school (generally three to four years, sometimes more, sometimes involving Advanced Placement courses) are advised to enroll at the early to mid-200 level: 201 for general review or other intermediate courses that concentrate variously on introductions to culture, spoken language, and/or literature. Students are strongly encouraged to consult the self-placement test (

Major Requirements

The major in French and Francophone studies consists of a minimum of ten courses beyond the level of Intermediate French (201). These courses should reflect both geographical breadth and historical depth; students must consult with a faculty member when planning the course of study in the major.

Two courses in a related discipline may normally count as one of the ten courses in the major; one of the two may be taught in a language other than French.

All majors are required to take at least one 300-level seminar in the senior year.

Advanced Placement courses may not count toward the major.

The Capstone Experience

Fluent and correct use of the language is essential to the completion of the major. All senior majors are required to complete a capstone experience that serves to synthesize and reflect upon their work in the major as described below:

1) All majors must assemble a portfolio of their work in the major and discuss it at the end of the second semester of their senior year. The portfolio contains a personal statement on the student's experience in French and Francophone studies and other components such as papers from courses taken at Bates or abroad, a journal of a study-abroad program or travel experience, audio and/or video recordings to show progress in oral proficiency, websites that may have been created for courses or other Francophone endeavors, or other personal reflections. After submission, majors schedule a soutenance or discussion of the portfolio (normally 20-30 minutes in length), which takes place with all members of the faculty in French and Francophone studies.

2) All majors must complete one of the following, all of which fulfill the [W3] requirement. Some portion of any of these options must be included in the portfolio for discussion:

a) a senior thesis (457, 458), which may be one-semester, two-semester, or honors. The thesis represents a sustained, scholarly work in the discipline, written in close consultation with a faculty member from the department.

b) a senior essay, an extracurricular (noncredit) written work that treats a question in the field of French and Francophone studies as agreed upon by the student and faculty advisor. The senior essay is significantly shorter than a one-semester thesis, yet still involves research and inquiry into a topic using tools of literacy and cultural study as practiced in the discipline.

c) an oral history project, which consists of a series of interviews with Francophone interlocutors, which are transcribed, edited, and presented at the Mount David Summit, and archived at Bates and in local repositories. These documentary projects, beyond interviewing, recording, and editing, entail an extended reflection on the process and an analysis of the final product.

3) All majors participate in a regularly scheduled Atelier de recherches in which they discuss approaches to research in French and Francophone cultural studies and their progress in the capstone requirements, including presentations of their research.

Honors candidates register for both FRE 457 and 458.

Minor Requirements

A minor in French and Francophone studies requires a minimum of seven courses. At least one of the seven courses must focus on literature or culture. Advanced Placement courses may not be applied toward the minor. All students who minor in French and Francophone studies must assemble a portfolio of their work in the minor. The portfolio consists of samples of written course work and is designed to demonstrate progress in the study of the French language.

Students considering a major or minor should begin to compile a writing portfolio as soon as possible in consultation with their advisor in the department. There is no formal presentation of the portfolio (soutenance) with the faculty in the department for the minor.

Study Abroad

Students majoring in French and Francophone studies are strongly encouraged to study abroad in a country appropriate for their area of interest. Normally majors receive a maximum of three credits for one semester of study and five credits for two semesters of study in a recognized program. Normally, minors receive a maximum of two credits for one semester of study and three credits for two semesters. Students must obtain approval from the department chair in order for their course to count toward major or minor in the discipline; otherwise, credit is not guaranteed.

Transfer Credit

Students normally may transfer up to two credits for course work equivalent to courses offered by the Department of French and Francophone Studies. Students need to obtain approval from a faculty member in the department in order for their courses to count toward the major; otherwise, credit is not guaranteed.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

No courses beyond FRE 235 may be taken pass/fail for credit toward the major or minor.