Welcome to the UC Berkeley Department of French. Courses in our department allow student to study French and francophone literature, culture, history, and film, along with the French language and French linguistics. Our dedicated and creative instructors and scholars share a commitment to excellence in teaching, whether it is in an introductory French class, a specialized course for majors (most of which are taught in French), a course on French literature or film in translation, or an advanced graduate seminar. And our manageable class size means that student work - undergraduate or graduate - receives the attention it deserves.
For its undergraduate majors, minors, and graduate students, the UC Berkeley French Department provides thorough coverage in all periods of both French and Francophone literatures and cultures. It combines this coverage with an array of related fields and topics – from literary history and theory to philosophy; from social and cultural theory to historical and contemporary linguistics; from the study of gender and sexuality to critical race theory and colonial and post-colonial studies. Coursework also covers historiography, visual arts and film, music, popular culture, and politics. We encourage independent and innovative thinking and research at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
There are numerous opportunities for education abroad at all stages of our program. Undergraduate majors typically participate in the University of California Education Abroad Program, which offers study and/or internship experiences in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Brussels, and Geneva. For those wishing to take their first steps, our Summer Session Travel Study Office offers an exciting and rigorous program which takes students to Paris for six weeks and currently offers instruction in French 1 and French 13 and 14. The Berkeley campus also features an exchange program through which qualified undergraduates can spend a year at the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris. At the graduate level, the Department has two yearly exchange programs with the Ecole Normale Supérieure and with the Institut d’Anglais at the Université de Paris VII.
We participate fully in the interdisciplinary emphasis that has traditionally distinguished study and research at Berkeley. Many of our faculty members are affiliated with other programs in the University (with the Departments of Comparative Literature, Italian Studies, and Linguistics, with programs in Romance Languages and Literatures and in Medieval Studies, with Graduate Designated Emphases in Critical Theory, Film Studies and in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and with the Berkeley Language Center, the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture and the Center for Race and Gender). Graduate students typically count courses from other disciplines toward completion of their degree.
We maintain close ties with scholars and writers in France, across North America, and around the world, and have a regular schedule of lectures and colloquia open to our students and colleagues, as well as to the public at large. Most years we host a Pajus Distinguished Visitor in French Studies. Recent longer term visitors have included Anne Garréta (2023), Sarah Kay (2022), Marielle Macé (2020), Simon Gaunt (2019), Frédéric Worms (2016), Gisèle Sapiro (2014), Jocelyne Dakhlia (2012), Wendy Ayres-Bennett (2012), Christopher Prendergast (2010), Ross Chambers (2009); Jacques Rancière (2008 and 2006); Michael Sheringham (2006); and Didier Eribon (2004-2005 and 2003-2004). Recent shorter term visitors have included Edouard Louis, Antoine Volodine, Olivier Wieviorka, Jean-Claude Carrière, Michel Jeanneret, Mathieu Potte-Bonneville, Scolastique Mukasonga, and François Bon. Please consult this site for information about upcoming events.
I hope that you will take the opportunity to explore our site and its various links so as to acquaint yourself more fully with our programs, our faculty, and their research interests. Do not hesitate to contact the faculty or our superb staff members should you have any further questions about studying in our department.
Rick Kern, Chair