Undergraduate studies: French Language and Literature

The undergraduate major and concentration in French Language and Literature provides an opportunity to continue the study of the literary and cultural issues first discussed in the two principal Core courses, Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, with a greater attention to historical context and textual detail since most works are read and discussed in the original French.

After completion of the four-semester language requirement, students take Third-Year Grammar and Composition to refine their skills in reading, speaking and writing French. They also undertake a comprehensive overview of the development of French literature from the Middle Ages to the present day in a two-semester survey course (Introduction to Literary Studies I and II), and France Past and Present, an introduction to major aspects of French history and civilization. A wide choice of advanced elective courses allows students to explore a variety of intellectual interests, to perfect their critical reading skills, and to master the techniques of close reading.

The culmination of the undergraduate experience is the one-semester senior seminar, in which students have an opportunity to collectively create their own syllabus.

The optional senior essay, written under the guidance of a faculty member at Columbia or during a student’s semester abroad, provides an initiation to scholarly research. The senior essay is a requirement to be eligible for departmental honors. 

Because a direct experience of contemporary French society is an essential part of the program, students are strongly encouraged to spend either a semester or a year at Reid Hall-Columbia University in Paris, where they can take courses that will be credited toward the French major as well as to other majors including Political Science, History or Art History. Qualified students may also take courses directly in the French university system.

Please examine the Majors/Concentrators’ Worksheet (French Language and Literature) for a breakdown of course requirements. 

The department offers SEAS students the possibility of a 15-point minor in French Language and Literature with the following requirements: 

FREN UN3333 and UN3334: Introduction to Literary Studies I and II

3 additional upper-level courses in French literature, culture, linguistics

For further details, please visit the Columbia College web site or the School of General Studies.