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.

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, Professor of French and Francophone Studies


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

Martine Guyot-Bender

Christian A. Johnson Excellence in Teaching Award Professor of French and Francophone Studies


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

Alice Veyssière

Teaching Fellow in French and Francophone Studies


French studies, French literature, writing and literary analysis

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

Explore Hamilton Stories

2024 Fulbright Teaching Assistantships

Five Seniors Awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships

Five Hamilton College seniors will embark to other countries through the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program, where they will polish their teaching skills, learn new languages, and serve as cultural ambassadors.

2023 Bristol Winners, Abigail Moone ’23 and Charlie Ratner ’23, and a map of their research destinations.

Bristol Fellows Navigate the World to Explore Artistic Expression, Lacrosse

Hamilton’s Bristol Fellowship awards generous funding to students for worldwide research projects that will encourage both “discovery of self and the world.” French and Francophone Studies concentrator Abigail Moone ’23 is among the recent recipients.

Class of 2023 outcomes collage

What’s Next: The Class of 2023

Members of Hamilton’s Class of 2023 have walked off the Commencement stage, canes in hand, and out into the world ready to make a difference and take the lead on global issues and needs.


Department Name

French and Francophone Studies Department

Contact Name

Cheryl Morgan, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

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