The Department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages offers a complete program of French language and literature courses and courses in cultural studies from the elementary to the Ph.D. level. France has an uninterrupted great literary and intellectual tradition going back to the Middle Ages, and the study of French has always been an essential part of a liberal education. We cherish this tradition at the University of Connecticut, and all the members of our French section are specialized in some period of French literature and culture. Our students also become familiar with French and francophone culture and learn about the major philosophical and political ideas that have shaped the Western world and our own form of government.
The French Language Program is designed to provide students with active proficiency in the four skills (speaking, listening reading and writing) and to introduce them to important features of French and Francophone history and culture. The Program’s teaching approach similar to those used at Middlebury and Dartmouth, seeking as much as possible to simulate immersion learning. Furthermore, it introduces modules in French and Francophone History, Culture and Society that will be further developed in upper-level courses. The Language Program thus treats the learning of language as integral to the mastery of a range of disciplines, helping to prepare students to enter a variety of different professional fields, such as international affairs, politics, anthropology, film studies, history, sociology, education and literature. It also introduces students to the practice of translation, international business and the media.
In the past many of our students have concentrated on preparing to teach at the secondary or college level. Recently, however, because of increased opportunities, more emphasis has been placed on the combination of language skills with training in another field. One example of this is the study of French language and commercial practices in preparation for a career in business. Our school of Business Administration sponsors an undergraduate program in Grenoble and a joint three-year MBA degree in International Business with the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Lyons. In either case, a thorough preparation in the language, including such courses as Technical Translation and Business French, the latter leading up to a diploma or a certificate from the Paris Chamber of Commerce, is indispensable. Our Study Abroad Program in Paris is also an essential component of French and Francophone Studies at UCONN and, whether majors, minors or double–majors in French, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to live and study in the French capital for either a semester or a year.
On the Storrs campus, we supplement the academic curriculum with meetings of a French Club, open to all students and faculty, where students see films, attend presentations on a variety of topics, and plan excursions to places like New York or Montreal. The Club organizes cultural activities and prepares a French dinner and an African dinner. Almost every year a French play is performed by the students, who receive academic credit for their involvement.
Every semester renowned French and Francophone writers are invited to read from their work and to meet with the students. In the past the French program has invited Annie Ernaux, Pierre Michon, Michel Houellebecq, Leïla Sebbar, and André Velter.
SITES, the only journal in the United States devoted exclusively to twentieth-century and contemporary French studies, is edited by two faculty in the French Program at UConn, Roger Célestin and Eliane DalMolin. A number of our graduate students have the opportunity to work as editorial assistants for the journal.