photo of French books and a pen on a desktop


Students studying French at Reed learn not only to express themselves with fluency in spoken and written French but also to appreciate French and Francophone literatures and cultures through the study of various media.

The department offers both a French major and minor. Coursework, conducted primarily in French, covers a wide range of literary genres and theoretical questions as well as important literary movements and theatre, film, and cultural studies. In addition to three levels of language courses, the department offers classes in a wide array of topics that are frequently renewed. Recent courses reflect the French department’s deep commitment to interdisciplinarity: Early Modern Orientalism; North African/ Diaspora literature; Introduction to Haitian Culture and Literature; French Literature and Cultural Studies; and French Connections: The Intertwined Histories of French and American Cinemas.

French majors are encouraged to study abroad. The department has exchange programs in France with the Université de Rennes II and the Université de Lille as well as with several campuses of the Université de Paris.

Each year, Reed hosts two visiting language scholars from France. They assist the department in academic and cultural matters and provide students with regular contact with a native speaker.

“I’ve been able to work with each professor and learn from all of their unique and enthusiastic approaches to French texts. Beyond giving me the tools to unlock foreign language literature, [Professors] Hugh, Catherine, Ann, and Luc have supported me in all my academic pursuits at Reed.” CARRIE HOLT ’18

Professor profile

Professor Ann Delehanty

At the Intersection of Philosophy, Literature, and History
photo of Professor Ann Delehanty

Ann Delehanty, Reed’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of French & Humanities, was drawn as a young scholar to the seventeenth-century French polymath Blaise Pascal, who made a mark as a philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. “Pascal is a fascinating nexus for a lot of different disciplines and ideas,” she says. “I’ve always been obsessed with his thinking and amazed by how much he managed to do in such a short time.”

Reflecting on her own Pascalian sensibilities, Ann’s scholarship stands at the intersection of philosophy, literature, and history. Her 2012 book, Literary Knowing in Neoclassical France: From Poetics to Aesthetics, explores the seventeenth century’s epistemological shift from reason to the notion of a “literary sublime.” The book represents, in her words, an effort to trace “the history of an idea—that literature might offer us access to transcendental and ineffable truths.”

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Study Abroad

The French department encourages students to study abroad through one of Reed’s official exchange programs. These are based in Rennes, Paris, and Lille, and at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. The work a student completes abroad in these approved programs is credited toward the Reed degree, and students on financial aid may apply their aid toward the costs.

Faculty Research Areas

Ann Delehanty
Early modern prose, classical theatre, medieval literature, philosophy and literature, historiography, comparative literature

Hugh Hochman
Twentieth-century French poetry and prose, theories of the lyric, philosophy of language

Luc Monnin
Eighteenth-century French literature and culture, history and theory of language, history of ideas, visual arts

Catherine Witt
French literature post 1800, poetry and poetics, theories of translation, theatre, cinema studies

The French House

Reed’s French House serves as both a residence hall and cultural center. Residents host a range of events, including a weekly “pause café,” film screenings, crêpe dinners, and various French holiday celebrations. The visiting language scholars also live at the French House, giving residents the chance to engage with native speakers on a daily basis.

What do alumni do?

PhD candidate
Princeton University, Department of French
Akrish Adhikari ’18

Bilingual Communication Specialist
NAVEX Global
Madeline Reese ’15

Software Engineer
Jonathan Eskew ’06

Senior Legislative Officer
United States Department of Labor
Sabrina Steel ’05

Associate Professor of French
Virginia Tech
Alex Dickow ’02

Writer, TV Host, and Chef
Steve Raichlin ’75