French is a national language of twenty-eight countries, and spoken widely in at least eighteen more. The French brought the world the Bayeux Tapestry (arguably the world’s first comic strip), Versailles, Impressionism, Surrealism, New Wave cinema, Poststructuralist thought, and many other movements and works that have been influential for world culture. But France is also only the beginning of the story. And not even the beginning: before there was anything known as France, there were medieval documents written in “roman,” the new vernaculars derived from Latin that would become our romance languages. In the wake of French colonialism, creoles and other appropriations of French language and literary genres have sprung up around the world. Our French Programs are, in other words, not just for students interested in France, but also for students interested in the literatures and cultures of the pre-and post-Francophone world. Students at Cornell who are interested in French may also want to view the offerings and programs at the Language Houses at Cornell.
The French Major prepares students to engage with the literatures and cultures of the Francophone world—from medieval England, through the many French monarchies and republics, to contemporary Africa. The major is designed to give students the opportunity to obtain proficiency in oral, aural, and written French while becoming astute critical readers and thinkers in both French and English.
The major consists of nine courses. Either FREN 2060 (Intermediate Reading and Writing) or 2090 (Intermediate Conversation and Composition I) may serve as the prerequisite. A course taken as a prerequisite does not count for the major.
Students may declare the major any time after completing FREN 2060 or FREN 2090 (or any time after placing into a higher-level course). Students may choose to apply to the French major up to two of the following French language courses: FREN 2095, FREN 2180. Students’ other courses should be at the FREN 2310-level or above. Required are: FREN 2310 (for students who have not already taken an equivalent course), at least one course at the 4000-level and one course on the Francophone world beyond France.
Students are welcome to apply up to two courses from outside the Department of Romance Studies toward the French major, provided that 50% of the content of those courses deals directly with France or the Francophone world. Students are also encouraged to study abroad: up to three courses may be counted toward the French major, provided that 50% of the content of these courses, again, deals directly with France or the Francophone world. (Merely being taught in French is not, on its own, a sufficient criterion for a course taken abroad to count for the French major.) The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the French major is B-. None of the courses applied to the French major may be taken for S-U grades.
Inquiries of a general nature can first be directed to the Undergraduate Coordinator, Cal Hile. Students who wish to major in French are advised to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Cary Howie, who admits students into the major and assigns a faculty adviser after taking into account a student’s interest, preparation, and career goals.
Please refer to the French section of the Romance Studies Course Offerings list. See our departmental course roster here.
The French minor is designed to complement work that students are pursuing in other fields of study. It is especially well suited to students from other departments and colleges interested in keeping their linguistic and interpretative skills alive.
The minor consists of five courses on French or Francophone topics. Students may register for the minor once they have taken any 2000-level course conducted in French.
In the Department of Romance Studies, students may take up to two of the following courses to show linguistic competence: FREN 2095 – French Intermediate Composition and Conversation II; FREN 2180 – Advanced French; or equivalent. Students’ other courses should be at the FREN 2310-level or above. In addition, students may apply up to two courses from abroad toward a French minor. Only one of the five courses required for the French minor may be taken for S-U grades.
Inquiries of a general nature can first be directed to the Undergraduate Coordinator, Cal Hile. Students interested in pursuing a French minor should make an appointment to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Cary Howie, during his weekly office hours.
Finally, students are encouraged to study abroad through Cornell-sponsored or Cornell-approved programs, such as EDUCO in Paris. When appropriate, this work can be counted toward the required course work for the major. Students should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Romance Studies, Cary Howie, the Study Abroad advising dean, and Cornell Abroad, as well as with their faculty advisor before taking courses abroad to ensure they are appropriate.