French Major

The major in French provides rigorous interdisciplinary training in the French language and the literary, cultural, and intellectual traditions of France and the French-­speaking world.

Extensive coursework at all levels of language study prepares students to engage critically with a rich array of texts, images, and ideas from francophone cultures. Ranging in scope from the medieval period to the present, course content extends across regions and incorporates many genres, media, and historical documents, placing them in their social and political contexts. Majors acquire the tools for literary and cultural analysis, learn about the distinctive contributions of French critical thought, and complete an independent research paper. Students are thus prepared to be linguistically adept, global citizens who are attuned to the complexities of language and culture.

Students must also complete the Undergraduate Registration Requirement and the degree requirements of their home school.

Course Title
FRENCH 201-0Culture and Society (or equivalent proficiency)
Major Requirements (14 units)
At most 5 200-level courses taught in French, including:
FRENCH 202-0Writing Workshop: Cultural Encounters in Contemporary France
FRENCH 210-0Reading Literatures in French
or FRENCH 211-0 Reading Cultures in French
At least 1 but at most 2 of:
Introducing the Novel
Introducing Theatre
Introducing Poetry
At least 9 courses must be at the 300 level, including:
At least 1 advanced language course chosen from:
French Phonetics
Advanced Language in Context: Society and Popular Culture
Advanced Writing: Finding Your Voice in French
Advanced Conversation: Debating Contemporary France
French For Professions
Theory and Practice of Translation
Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practice
At least 4 literature and culture courses selected from FRENCH 310 through FRENCH 390. At least 2 must cover the period prior to 1800.
1 senior seminar:
Advanced Studies in Culture and Thought
At most 2 300-level courses taught in English may be counted toward the major. Of these, 1 may be a course with at least 50 percent French content offered outside the department; the course will count as an elective.
Courses with the requisite French content include: 1
19th Century Art 1: 1800–1848
and 19th Century Art 2: 1848-1900
Paris: World City, 1700 to the Present
History of Modern France: Ancien Regime and the French Revolution
and History of Modern France : 19th c. to present
Studies in French Philosophy
No more than 1 399 may count toward the major unless the student is completing an honors thesis.
At least 2 300-level courses must be completed at Northwestern.

Other courses may be approved at the discretion of the director of undergraduate studies.

Exceptions and Waivers

  • Majors who begin French studies in FRENCH 111-1 Elementary French, FRENCH 115-1 Intensive Elementary French, or ­FRENCH 121-1 Intermediate French may count FRENCH 201-0 Culture and Society as 1 elective course at the 200 level.
  • Majors with an AP score of 5 or with departmental advanced placement, depending upon results of the French Language Placement Test, may either waive FRENCH 202-0 Writing Workshop: Cultural Encounters in Contemporary France or waive 1 elective course at the 200-level. In this case total course requirements for the major will be 13 courses, with a maximum of 4 200-level courses and at least 9 300-level courses.

Honors in French

Majors with strong academic records and an interest in pursuing honors should contact the director of undergraduate studies no later than spring quarter of junior year. The honors thesis is produced through 2 quarters of FRENCH 399-0 Independent Study; these FRENCH 399-0 enrollments will count toward the 14 required units for the major. The thesis may build on previous work done in a 300-level course.

Students whose theses and grades meet department criteria are recommended to the college for graduation with honors. For more information see the department website or consult with the director of undergraduate studies and see Honors in the Major.


Introductory and Intermediate Language Courses

Course Title
FRENCH 111-1
FRENCH 111-2
FRENCH 111-3
Elementary French
and Elementary French
and Elementary French
FRENCH 115-1
FRENCH 115-2
Intensive Elementary French
and Intensive Elementary French
FRENCH 121-1
FRENCH 121-2
FRENCH 121-3
Intermediate French
and Intermediate French
and Intermediate French
FRENCH 125-1
FRENCH 125-2
FRENCH 125-3
Intensive Intermediate French
and Intensive Intermediate French
and Intensive Intermediate French
FRENCH 198-0Independent Study
Language and Culture
and Language and Culture
FRENCH 201-0Culture and Society
FRENCH 202-0Writing Workshop: Cultural Encounters in Contemporary France
FRENCH 203-0Oral Workshop: Individual and Society in France Today

Introductory Literature and Culture Courses

Introduction to texts in various genres such as essay, poetry, drama, novel, and autobiography, from at least two periods from the Middle Ages to the present. Prerequisite: FRENCH 202-0 Writing Workshop: Cultural Encounters in Contemporary France, AP score of 5, or consent of instructor.

Course Title
FRENCH 210-0Reading Literatures in French
FRENCH 211-0Reading Cultures in French
FRENCH 271-0Introducing the Novel
FRENCH 272-0Introducing Theatre
FRENCH 273-0Introducing Poetry

Courses with Readings and Discussion in English

No prerequisite in French; readings, discussions, papers, and examinations in English.

Course Title
FRENCH 277-0French Existentialism
FRENCH 279-0Theater in Translation
FRENCH 371-0Giants, Cannibals, and Critique
FRENCH 374-0Proust
FRENCH 375-0French Film
FRENCH 376-0Gender & Sexuality
FRENCH 378-0Contemporary Theory
FRENCH 379-0Topics in French Literature and Culture

Courses with Prerequisites in French

Course Title
FRENCH 300-0French Phonetics
FRENCH 301-0Advanced Language in Context: Society and Popular Culture
FRENCH 302-0Advanced Writing: Finding Your Voice in French
FRENCH 303-0Advanced Conversation: Debating Contemporary France
FRENCH 309-0French For Professions
FRENCH 310-0The Middle Ages & Renaissance
FRENCH 322-0Medieval French Narratives
FRENCH 333-0Topics in Renaissance Literature
FRENCH 335-017th Century Literature
FRENCH 340-0Sexual Politics and the Ancien Regime
FRENCH 344-0Rousseau and the French Revolution
FRENCH 346-0Studies in the Enlightenment
FRENCH 355-0The Invention of Modernity
FRENCH 360-0From Modernism to Postmodernism
FRENCH 362-0African Literatures and Cultures
FRENCH 364-0Caribbean Literatures and Cultures
FRENCH 365-0The Maghreb and the Middle East
FRENCH 366-0France and East Asia
FRENCH 380-0Political & Social Thought in France
FRENCH 384-0Women Writing in French
FRENCH 386-0Gender & Writing
FRENCH 390-0Topics in Literature and Culture
FRENCH 391-0Theory and Practice of Translation
FRENCH 393-0Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practice
FRENCH 395-0Advanced Studies in Culture and Thought
FRENCH 399-0Independent Study