The French division of the department offers a complete language program which includes elementary, intermediate and advanced language, conversation, composition, business French, phonetics, and global varieties of French.
In addition, every year it offers a series of courses given entirely in English, all of which have general education credit. A full complement of upper-level courses in literature, film, linguistics, theory, and cultural studies is also offered each year.
Beyond the classroom, the French program offers students exciting opportunities in internships; directed and independent research experiences; an active French Club, and a French Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi. We also sponsor an annual paper prize for a French major.
The Undergraduate Program in French & Francophone Studies: A Curriculum for the Mid-21st Century
- We offer a trio of 3-credit courses to be taken after French 104 (a globally focused course, available for global issues general education credit) that focus on language skills in cultural context (Speaking French; Reading French: Literature, Media, Culture; Writing French) and serve to prepare students for 1000-level courses: "Reading French" considers print literature in relation to other non-literary media like video games, graphic novel, film, TV, and e-books (in short, what does it mean to read in the digital age?). "Writing French" helps students write in practical ways (as in let's write our resume in French).
- French 0220/0020, "La France aujourd'hui" is the course for you if you want to study current events and society in the Hexagon (and get answers to questions like: what is the status of race in France today? are the French all socialists? what is Macron up to?).
- French 0227/0027, The French Atlantic, offers the chance to think about how France related to other parts of the world, especially the Antilles and North America, in historical context (recall that Pittsburgh used to be a French-speaking city). Students study historical documents like maps to better understand history and thus the Francophone world today.
- We offer advanced courses at the 1000-level on a range of topics that build on lower-level courses and invite students to work on advanced language learning with a specialist in a given area (for instance, "La Vie en noir: Francophone African Cultural Studies," "Literature and Culture of Haiti" and "Gender and Sexuality in 21st Century France").
- Advanced course in linguistics allow you to build on intermediate-level courses (Advanced Grammar and Stylistics, Phonetics, Business French, Global Varieties of French).
- Our program offers you the chance to create and to be creative in French: we regularly offer "French Theatre Workshop" (with a play to be performed all in French, but updated for the 21st century) and "Creative Writing Workshop" (including some guest writers from abroad as invited guests).
- Then there are a number of general education courses in English, on Paris ("Urbanism Past and Present"), on medicine and literature ("Ailing Bodies"), and on Fashion (Eurochic: The Invention of Fashion) offered each year, alongside the very popular courses "French Kiss" and "History of French Cinema." "Kings and Queens" gives you the chance to study who ruled in France (and who didn't, thanks to French Salic Law) and how to connect French history to current pop culture where kings and queens are having a moment. "Global Literature of Climate Change" is for you if you want to think about how climate change is put into literary form. Take "Modern French Novel" if you want to see what's going on today in French literature (and work on writing, the course is a "W" course for non-French-majors). A course for first-year students on French-Speaking Canada is offered each fall and includes a trip to Quebec. A new course on African feminisms is offered in 2023-24.
- "Gender, Sexuality, and French Thought" gives you to chance to think about how gender/sexuality studies and French studies relate to each other (trust us, they are closely linked). Taught in English, this course carries general education philosophy credit (and geographical region and diversity).
- An upper-level course on France and environmental studies is offered ("Green France: Situated Ecologies"). We also offer a course "Thinking the Earth" on theories of the environment from the French-speaking world (with philosophy general education credit). A course on human rights in France is in development.
- At the advanced/1000-level in French, we regularly offer "Global French" as well as a advanced course in French on the nation "L'Idée de la France" (and the French nationality room is on the syllabus, as is a student podcast). Undergraduate research and close faculty mentoring are embedded in these courses. Both courses satisfy the writing-intensive requirement ("W" courses) and offer students the chance to work closely with a French faculty member on a research project.
- An innovative honors option for students desiring a hands-on, sustained research or creative experience in their senior year, under the mentorship of a faculty member.
A French curriculum for the mid-21st century: language, media, environmentalism, globalization, nation, urbanism, race, gender, sexuality, history, creativity.
Double majors in French and a second field (such as political science, economics, business, art history, communication, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, GSWS, or another foreign language) allow students to explore interdisciplinary interests that help to focus and personalize their program of study. French is an excellent complement to majors in science, business, public health, or computer science/information as well. Students might also consider combining French with the International Studies co-major for a unique experience. Employers in many areas appreciate competency in other cultures and language proficiency beyond English. A French major is an excellent way to show that you have a global perspective since French is so widely spoken around the world.
La Parlotte (French conversation group, meets weekly for informal conversation, open to all)
Contact Caitlin Dahl for more information.
All majors are also highly encouraged to spend a year or a semester in a Francophone country. Many students have taken the opportunity to earn credits toward the major or minor and improve their language skills while experiencing firsthand the life and culture of France. Two summer Pitt programs are in development for summer 2024.
In just these last few years, dozens of students have taken the opportunity to earn credits toward the major and improve their language skills while experiencing firsthand the life and culture of the French-speaking world.
Financial Support for Study Abroad
The Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, the Nationality Rooms Scholarships, and French and Italian Departmental scholarships support summer study abroad, and students may apply to a number of other sources for financial support.
After Graduation: TAPIF Program in France
After graduating, several French majors each year are funded through the TAPIF program in France. Students from our department have a high rate of acceptance, and we will help you write a competitive application and secure letters of recommendation. A year in France can help solidify your French and prepare you for later work.
Funds for Undergraduate Research in French
The Department of French and Italian is delighted to announce two new research funds to support undergraduate research and creative work in, around and about French: the Antoni Kosinski and Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski Endowed Research Fund in French Studies and the Sustainability in France Research Fund.
A leading specialist in the field of medieval studies, Dr. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski retired from Pitt, where she taught the popular “Women’s Voices in French Literature” course for undergraduates and mentored generations of graduate and undergraduate students in French. From holy women to the politics of translation, Dr. Blumenfeld-Kosinski’s research has shaped French and medieval studies. With her husband Antoni Kosinski, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Rutgers University, Dr. Blumenfeld-Kosinski is supporting and inspiring research for new generations of undergraduates at Pitt through the Antoni Kosinski and Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski Endowed Research Fund in French Studies.
Thanks to the generosity of the community of donors who support us, the Department of French and Italian is also offering awards to support original undergraduate research in topics related to sustainability and French, French-speaking world regions, or France. From the Paris Accords to nuclear energy, from food sustainability to sustainable tourism, from eco-technologies to eco-art, we invite undergraduates to explore, research and create around intersections of “Green” and “France” or “francophone” through the Sustainability in France Research Fund.
Applications for both undergraduate research awards are due every year on December 10 (or the following Monday if that date falls on a weekend).