About French

The French program at Johns Hopkins University features a distinguished and dynamic faculty with expertise in early modern, modern, and contemporary French literature, as well as in topics in cultural studies, film, and the teaching of the French language. We offer an undergraduate major and two minors, as well as a PhD in French literature.

As part of a leading research institution, we are committed to:

  • Integrating language acquisition and literary and cultural study, so as to provide the strongest intellectual and professional training to Hopkins undergraduates
  • Preparing our doctoral candidates for theoretically informed research in broad historical frameworks as well as for innovative classroom teaching
  • Engaging with emergent forms of literary and cultural knowledge linked to the French-speaking world, in a spirit of collaborative research.

French has a long and distinguished history at Johns Hopkins, having played a leading role in embracing and circulating critical approaches and methods. Ground-breaking modern literary theory was born here in its dialogue with the interdisciplinary French structuralist and post-structuralist projects, which united under the banner of language such diverse intellectual endeavors as anthropology, history, philosophy, political theory, and the history of ideas. In our teaching and research, as well as through the lectures and colloquia of the Centre Louis Marin and the Hopkins Literature Forum, we are pursuing and deepening this distinctive tradition in critical thought.

French Learning Goals

The French section is committed to the:

  1. Seamless integration of language acquisition and literary and cultural study so as to provide the strongest intellectual and professional training to Hopkins undergraduates;
  2. Production and dissemination of innovative forms of literary and cultural knowledge linked to national and transnational contexts of the French-speaking world.

Our learning goals, predicated on intensive language study and the analysis of literary and cultural texts, are as follows:

  • French Language (210 Courses)
    • Attain solid (though not flawless) proficiency in reading, writing, understanding and speaking French.
    • Gain sensitivity to the history and sociology of the French language.
    • Acquire experience of the ways in which the French language is modified by global cultural and literary development.
    • Develop the ability to present competent written and oral arguments.
  • Literary and Cultural Study (212 Courses)
    • Acquire basic familiarity with the terms and techniques of cultural and literary analysis within French and francophone studies.
    • Learn to articulate specific connections between texts and historical, cultural, artistic, social and political contexts.
    • Develop rigorous critical thinking and the ability to recognize a valid research question within the discipline.
    • Craft a research project and appropriate scholarly apparatus (abstract, annotated bibliography, investigation of sources and citations).
    • Produce clear and persuasive presentations based on sustained argument and supporting evidence.
    • Be able to interpret and analyze texts using a variety of methods, especially close reading (explication de texte), linguistic analysis, critical analysis, and contextualization.

The French section offers on occasion special topics courses in English (211 Courses) which are open to students with limited or no prior exposure to French.

The French section encourages students to study another languages in MLL; students interested in the Renaissance or the Middle Ages are strongly encouraged to acquire reading knowledge of Latin.

Students are also highly encouraged to spend one semester at one of the JHU-approved study abroad programs, preferably during the spring of the junior year, both to perfect their mastery of the French language and to have experience with research-oriented higher education in French-speaking countries.