The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Whitman College offers intensive instruction in all levels of French language as well as advanced courses in French and Francophone literature, film and culture. Students graduating from our program are able to analyze a broad range of cultural production, from literary text to historical document to popular media. They are able to formulate their ideas clearly in French and in English, orally or in writing, displaying awareness of and respect for cultural specificity. They are skilled and informed readers, able to articulate some of the ways in which French-language cultures create knowledge and express ideas, as well as displaying an awareness of how language itself and different social and cultural contexts influence their own perspectives on the world. Most French majors and minors spend one or two semesters abroad as part of their program of study; all French majors pass a comprehensive exam in the second semester of their senior year. Our faculty members bring a broad range of experience and interests and a diversity of approaches to the study of literature, and students of the program develop specialized skills in textual analysis critical to effective engagement with a range of aesthetic and social questions. Majors are able to function fluently and independently in French and bring critically-informed perspectives to their participation in global networks of knowledge, commerce, technology, environment, and culture.
The faculty of the French department are also active in Whitman's World Literature program, teaching French and Francophone texts in translation. Current and recent offerings by members of the French faculty include Race, Trauma, Narrative; French National Cinemas; French Theater from Classicism to Enlightenment; and Contemporary Literary Theory.