French Department

Degree Requirements

  1. A minimum of six units in literature at the 300 and 400 level, at least two of which must be prior to the nineteenth century.
  2. Ability to write French at the equivalent of French 320.
  3. French 470.

Recommended but not required:

  1. French 320 is strongly advised.
  2. Humanities 210 and/or 220.

All French majors must also meet divisional and college requirements. Download the French Major Planner from the Office of the Registrar.

French Qualifying Exam

The French qualifying exam consists of a three-part written exam and an oral exam, all based on a primary literary text chosen in coordination with the French department. The three parts of the written exam are:

  1. a close reading of a passage, selected by the French department, from the primary literary text
  2. an analysis of a critical source treating the primary literary text (the student is expected to summarize, characterize, and engage with the theoretical argument)
  3. a short essay in response to one of two questions about the primary literary text

Following submission of the written exam, there will be an oral examination of 45 minutes, in French, during which the student and the members of the French department will discuss the written exam.

Students will have one week to complete the three written parts of the exam, all of which are to be in French.  The exam questions will be given to the student during the 10th week of classes in the spring semester (or in August in the case of students studying abroad in their junior year).

2016-17 Exam Schedule

January 30 (or April for students abroad):

Each student gives the chair of the French department the name of two works of literature that he or she would like to work on for the qualifying exam. These works may be among those studied in courses at Reed or abroad. The student should also feel free to indicate to the department what aspects of the works interest him or her.

The department will choose one of the works for the exam and will inform the student of this choice within one week. Part 1 of the exam will be a close reading of a passage, selected by the French department, from this text. The student will not know until the time of the exam which passage the department has selected.

During this time, students may read critical studies of the work that they will be analyzing for the exam, but their preparation should be principally devoted to the primary text.

March 17 (or early August for students abroad):

In week 8 of the semester, the department will tell the student what secondary source he or she will be required to analyze in part 2 of the exam. The student should read that secondary source thoroughly prior to writing the exam.

Thursday, April 13 (or August for students abroad):

The student picks up the written qualifying exam. The completed exam will be due on Thursday, April 20 at noon (or the first week of classes if returning from abroad) and should be submitted to Trina McLaughlin, in ETC 112B.

Each of the three sections of the exam requires a five-page essay response (in 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced) written in French. Additional secondary sources may be cited but are not necessary.

Final week of classes (or first week for students returning from abroad):

The final step of the qualifying exam will be an oral exam with the French department, in French, where the student’s written exam will be discussed.