Learning Goals for the French Major

Courses in French develop critical skills and cultural and linguistic proficiency through the interpretation of French-language literatures and medias.

The successful French major will be an engaged, self-aware reader, able to analyze a broad range of cultural production, from literary text to historical document to popular media. They will be able to formulate their ideas clearly, orally or in written form, displaying awareness of and respect for cultural specificity. They will be able to articulate some of the ways in which French-language cultures create knowledge and express ideas, displaying an awareness of how language itself and different social and cultural contexts influence their own perspectives on the world.

In order to become just such a reader, the French major will develop of a set of interrelated literary, linguistic and cultural competencies, articulated below.

Literary Analysis

Study in French allows students to develop specialized skills in literary analysis critical to effective engagement with a range of aesthetic and social questions. Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Analyze the structure of literary texts across genres, media (written, aural, visual), and Francophone cultures;
  • Distinguish between unreflective aesthetic impressions and evidence-based interpretations and judgments of cultural products;
  • Situate texts in relation to intellectual and historical contexts by identifying, assessing, and arguing from appropriate primary and secondary sources.

Advanced Language Competency

Language study is the foundation of the French major. A keen grasp of language itself is essential to understanding both the content and the significant formal dimension of a broad range of cultural products. Through the study and analysis of literature, advanced coursework in French seeks to develop a C1 level of competence according to the Common European Frame of Reference, as summarized in the following list of goals:

  • Attain a level of linguistic proficiency that permit him/her to function independently and in a broad range of contexts, both familiar and unfamiliar.
  • Articulate complex, clearly organized arguments, including effective transitions and appropriate use of supporting evidence.
  • Function appropriately in both a formal and informal register, detecting and interpreting nuances in tone and style.

Cross-Cultural Competency

Graduates of the French program bring critically-informed perspectives to their participation in global networks of knowledge, commerce, technology, environment, and culture. Specifically, majors will be able to:

  • Engage effectively in dialogue by speaking and writing with precision, nuance, and attention to ambiguity and difference;
  • Recognize and analyze socio-aesthetic norms and judgments across national, historical, cultural and linguistic boundaries;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with common cultural references and socio-political structures in Francophone communities of pertinence to personal and professional actions, as well as a capacity to build further knowledge in these areas.