Important Information for French Majors Concerning 2019-2020 Spring Semester:
Given the grave emergency posed by COVID-19 and the virus’s impact on all of us, for courses taken in spring 2020, the Department of French has decided to accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.
In recognition of difficulties that might arise from carrying a reduced, 3-class course load during the 2020-21 academic year, and limited opportunities for study abroad for the junior class, the French Department will suspend the rule that prohibits a course that counts towards the completion of another major from also counting towards the 8 courses required for the French major. The suspension of this rule will apply to a maximum of 2 courses out of the eight required for the major, and only for the classes of 2021 and 2022. For subsequent classes, the requirements remain as described on the Departmental web page.
In recognition of the potential for scheduling difficulties that might limit French majors' opportunities to complete major requirements during the 2020-21 academic year, the French Department will require only one course prior to the nineteenth century (AC French courses numbered 320-339, or 346) for completion of the major for the class of 2021. Nevertheless, whenever feasible, majors are encouraged by the Department to complete two such courses before graduation. **Please note that the minimum number of courses required is still eight.** For the class of 2022 and subsequent classes, the requirements remain as described on the Departmental web page.
Seniors in the class of 2021 who are considering declaring a French major are encouraged to contact Professor Sigal, Professor Katsaros, or Professor de la Carrera before the end of the fall add/drop period, so that one of these professors can review their transcripts and assess what coursework remains to be completed for the major.
The objective of the major is to learn about another culture directly through its language and principally by way of its literature. Literature is here understood as a significant expression of a culture.
Emphasis in courses is upon examination of significant authors or problems rather than on chronological survey. We read texts closely from a modern critical perspective, but without isolating them from their cultural context. To give students a better idea of the development of French Literature throughout the centuries, we encourage majors to select courses from a wide range of historical periods, from the Middle Ages to the present.
Fluent and correct use of the language is essential to successful completion of the major. Most courses are taught in French. The Department also urges majors to spend a semester or a year studying in a French-speaking country.
The major in French provides effective preparation for graduate work, but it is not conceived as strictly pre-professional training.
Major Program. The Department of French aims at flexibility and responds to the plans and interests of the French major within a structure that affords diversity of experience in French literature and continuous training in the use of the language.
A major in French (both rite and Honors) will normally consist of a minimum of eight courses. Students may choose to take (a) eight courses in French literature and civilization; or (b) six courses in French literature and civilization and two related courses with departmental approval. In either case, a minimum of four courses must be taken from the French offerings in the Amherst College French Department. One of these four must be taken during the Senior year. French 410H does not count toward fulfilling this requirement.
All courses offered by the Department above French 103 may count for the major. The one rule of selection is that two of the eight courses submitted for the major must be chosen from offerings in French literature and culture before the nineteenth century. One of these must be a course that covers the Medieval period or the Renaissance, the other a course that examines the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. (French 311 may be counted toward the major as one of these two courses.) Up to four courses taken in a study abroad program may count toward the eight required courses for the major. Comprehensive examinations must be completed no later than the seventh week of the second semester of the senior year.
Candidates for Departmental Honors must write a thesis in addition to fulfilling the course requirements for the major described above. Students who wish to write a thesis should begin to develop a topic during their junior year, and must submit a detailed thesis proposal to the Department at the end of the first week of Fall semester classes. Subject to departmental approval of the thesis proposal, candidates for Departmental Honors will enroll in French 498 and 499 during their senior year. (French 498 and 499 will not be counted toward the eight-course requirement for the major.) Oral examinations on the thesis will be scheduled in late spring.
A program of study approved by the Department for a junior year in France has the support of the Department as a significant means of enlarging the major's comprehension of French civilization and as the most effective method of developing mastery of the language. For a more detailed explanation of the ways in which courses taken in a study abroad program may be counted toward the course requirements for the French major, see Study Abroad .
Graduating Seniors are eligible for two Exchange Fellowships for study in France: one fellowship as Teaching Assistant in American Civilization and Language at the University of Dijon; the other as Exchange Fellow, Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.
Course Numbering System. French 101-208 are French Language and Composition courses. French 101-207 are numbered by degree of difficulty. French 207, 208 and 311 have identical prerequisites and may be taken in any order. All courses numbered 320 and above, with the exception of those courses conducted in English, list French 207, 208, 311 or 312 as prerequisites. Courses numbered 320 and above are advanced courses, but are not ranked by order of difficulty. They are organized, instead, by period in the following manner:
311-319 - French Literature and Civilization
320-329 - Medieval and Renaissance Literature and Culture
330-339 - Seventeenth- and Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture
340-349 - Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture
350-359 - Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Literature and Culture
360-369: Special Courses
470 + - Advanced Courses
498-499 - Senior Departmental Honors
490 - Special Topics