The French department enthusiastically welcomes students from all majors across the college. Our students come from multiple disciplines and are interested in studying a very wide variety of works from French-speaking cultures around the world. We are happy to invite all kinds of interdisciplinary engagement with the powerful works of the French-speaking world.
Students who choose to major in French will acquire a critical appreciation of French and Francophone literatures, films, and cultures and the ability to express themselves fluently in the spoken and written language. In keeping with Reed’s general educational goals, students are expected to broaden their preparation by pursuing work in humanities, other literatures, and the fine arts.
Students who minor in French will acquire advanced proficiency in French language and gain familiarity with literary works from the French-speaking world.
Among the members of the French department, there is a wide range of literary interests and critical attitudes. Our course offerings cover a wide variety of periods and movements from the French-speaking world.
In addition to the general course offerings, seminars are available on special topics, and independent studies may be arranged. Recent seminar topics have included contemporary French poetry, French feminist theory, surrealism in literature and the other arts, postcolonial literature, and French cinema.
Most classes range in size from 10 to 15 students and are conducted primarily in French.
Any student wishing to enroll in a French course at any level and who has not studied French previously at Reed College must take the placement examination given every year during orientation week. Entering students who place out of second-year language (French 210) will be advised to enroll in French 320 or another 300-level course with consent of the instructor.
Students who wish to major in French and who have not had prior experience in the language can do so by completing French 110 and 210 during their first two years at Reed, or elsewhere. During their last two years they must complete all the course requirements for the major.
Students wishing to fulfill the Division of Literature and Languages requirement for third-year study in a foreign literature can do so by showing proficiency on the French 210 level and then taking any 300-level courses, except French 320.
The French House on campus functions not only as a residence hall, but also as the center for a variety of extracurricular activities, including film evenings and social and cultural events, as well as gatherings with students and faculty from the entire Reed College community.
The language scholar from France, a yearly appointment, resides in the French House and provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with a native speaker; the scholar assists the department in academic and cultural matters.
The French department encourages its majors to spend some time abroad, and to that end it has instituted an exchange program in France with the Université de Rennes II and several campuses of the Université de Paris. 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.