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About the Major

French is the language of much of the world’s greatest literature and philosophy. Widely spoken in such regions as Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, it preceded English as the international language and remains ingrained into the discourse of history and diplomacy. At Hamilton, students of French sharpen their language skills in small classes and through casual conversations at French tables in a dining hall. Many students live the language and culture through Hamilton in France, where, challenged to speak nothing but French, they emerge with new-found confidence and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Communicate effectively in oral and written French
  • Construct interpretive arguments about a variety of works, and/or historical or contemporary events from areas of the world in which French is spoken
  • Research and present clear results in written and spoken form

A Sampling of Courses

French castle

Out in the City: Nineteenth-Century Paris

Examination of the ways in which an increasingly modern Paris looms large in the 19th-century imagination. Explores developments in the arts (drawing, caricature and photography) and writing (journalism and literature) to examine topics such as money, pleasure, looking, flânerie, fashion, social class and gender within the context of urban decay and renewal. Attention to the historical and social geography of Paris complements study of writers such as Balzac, Girardin, Baudelaire and Zola and artists such as Daumier, Nadar, and the impressionists.

Explore these select courses:

Emphasis on acquiring oral proficiency both in terms of spoken French and of general communication.  Work centers on improving pronunciation, acquiring vocabulary, and developing communication strategies.  Exploration of contemporary topics in French media through a number of oral intensive assignments culminating in a final presentation.

From Montesquieu’s Lettres Persanes to Tintin’s adventures in Asia, this course explores the concept of travelling in all its forms: the thirst for adventure in a foreign land, colonial travels, the forced voyage of exile and immigration, and even space travel. The historical and sociocultural components of various texts of the travel literature genre in French are examined in context. Authors include Montesquieu, Voltaire, Saint-Exupéry, Marcel Aymé, Hergé, Gisèle Pineau, Kim Thuy, and Amélie Nothomb. Students will write their own fictional récit de voyage in the form of a travel journal.

What makes us laugh, and what is the social function of comedy? This course examines French comic literature, film, theater and performance from medieval fabliau and farce, modern comic fiction and theater, to contemporary cinema and stand-up comedy; works of imagination are read against the theories of Aristotle, Joubert, Baudelaire, Freud, Bergson, and Bakhtin. Authors and artists include Rabelais; Molière; Voltaire; Georges Feydeau; Albert Jarry; Eugène Ionesco; Jacques Tati; Agnès Jaoui; and Gad Elmaleh. Work includes a personal carnet du rire, an oral presentation, and a longer project.

This course explores the limitations, functions, and capacities of language through postcolonial and comparative lenses. We will investigate the relationship between language and nation or language and identity, and explore forms of language such as tongue, discourse, and corporeal language. Sources will include critical texts, narratives, and film from Sartre, Fanon, Lê, Lafèrriere, Chraibi, among others. Students will gain the tools and perspectives to question the language(s) we speak, write, interpret, choose and exclude.

This course will examine emerging and competing forms of the French novel in the first half of the 19th century, exploring their engagements with romantic individualism, sentimental fictions, recent history and, ultimately, realist aesthetics. Authors studied may include Hugo, Balzac, Duras, Sand Girardin, Stendhal and Flaubert.

Meet Our Faculty

Cheryl Morgan

Chair and Professor of French

19th-century literature, in particular French women writers; literary humor; urban literature

French 20th- and 21st-century literature and film; narrative representation of trauma (war, poverty); social documentary from the 1970s to today; literature and film of the Nazi occupation of France (Patrick Modiano); women writers (Amélie Nothomb, Assia Djebar, Simone de Beauvoir)

Claire Mouflard

Associate Professor of French

contemporary French and Francophone literature, culture, and film; literature and cinema of immigration; transnational immigrant identities in France

Francophone African and Caribbean literatures and cultures, and 20th-century avant-garde French literature

María Sánchez-Reyes

Visiting Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Medieval French and Occitan lyric, sound and performance studies, manuscript studies, Medieval and contemporary philosophy, queer and gender studies, 16th-century French poetry, and architecture history of French opera

Josephine Orio

Teaching Fellow in French and Francophone Studies

French studies

Explore Hamilton Stories

Emma Mae Regan '22

Diving into Public Policy at Global Policy Group

Emma Mae Regan ’22 explored the world of public policy through an internship at the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Global Policy Group (GPG). Founded by Ian Graig ’79, GPG provides domestic and international corporations across a range of business sectors with assistance regarding U.S. politics.

Kate Biedermann '22

Biedermann ’22 to Join Partners Group As Analyst

After graduation in May, Kate Biedermann ’22 will join Partners Group in its financial analyst program. Here she shares how her Hamilton experience led her to this path.

Arianna Robertson '23

Robertson ’23 Presents Emerson Project at NeMLA

Arianna Robertson ’23 presented her Emerson grant research project at the Northeast Modern Language Association’s Undergraduate Forum and Poster Session.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in French are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Assignment Editor, ABC News
  • Music Teacher, New York City Department of Education
  • Professor of French, Wesleyan University
  • Pilot, Delta Airlines
  • Chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble
  • Medical Writer, Providence Journal
  • Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Emory University
  • French Teacher, Choate Rosemary Hall
  • New York State Supreme Court Justice
  • Vice President of Product Development, Estee Lauder
  • International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture


Department Name

French and Francophone Studies Department

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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