On February 1, Amber Sweat participated in a televised panel discussion on inclusion through sports featuring experts, athletes, and advocates at an event led by the Consulate General of France in San Francisco. The panel was preceded by an exclusive screening of the film Allons Enfants (Rookies), and breakdancing performances by a Bay Area troupe.

On December 6, 2023, the Modern Language Association of America announced it is awarding its thirty-first annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies to Michael Lucey, the Sidney and Margaret Ancker Professor of French and Comparative Literature for his book What Proust Heard: Novels and the Ethnography of Talk, published by the University of Chicago Press.

On November 30, 2023, the Académie Française awarded Professor Déborah Blocker the PRIX MONSEIGNEUR MARCEL (in the Prix d’Histoire category) for her book, Le Principe de plaisir. Esthétique, savoirs et politique dans la Florence des Médicis (XVIe-XVIIe siècles). The prize, « destiné à l'auteur d'un ouvrage consacré à l'histoire philosophique, littéraire ou artistique de la Renaissance », was awarded at the Institut de France. In his Discours sur les prix littéraires, Presider Michel Zink said this:

We had the pleasure of discussing French politics on campus with Jonah Levy, Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley, who gave a talk in French to the Berkeley French Department and the Berkeley Center of Excellence in French and Francophone Studies. The talk was entitled, “Pourquoi la France est-elle si difficile à réformer ? » (« Why is France so hard to reform? »).

We are very sad to learn that our colleague and friend Len Johnson died on September 26. Len was a specialist in Late Medieval and 16th-century literature. Below is an obituary prepared by Len's close friend, the Rev. Thaddeus Bennett, followed by remembrances from Berkeley colleagues.

Leonard Wilkie Johnson

September 1, 1931 – September 26, 2023

We are sad to report that Professor Emeritus Basil Guy died on June 11, 2023 in Albany, California at the age of 97.

The French Department has welcomed many local francophone partners on April, 20th, 2023, to announce the start of its professional paths and hear about the many wonderful opportunities for students to interact and work in French locally, in the Bay Area. We had the pleasure to welcome le Consulat de France à San Francisco, Alliance Française de Berkeley et de San Francisco, le Lycée Français de San Francisco, French Morning. They all organize events in French and most of them would welcome interns from the French Department, for local work in French.

Sponsored by the Alliance Française de Berkeley and the Delegation of Québec in Los Angeles, plan to attend two fantastic events honoring this year's region of choice: Québec!

Thursday, March 16: Screening of the Québécois feature film "Au revoir le bonheur" (comedy) by Ken Scott
The event will be in French.
Event details can be found HERE.

Ben Beitler, a doctoral candidate in the French Ph.D. program and native of Palo Atlo, shares his review and analysis of Malcolm Harris's 720-page text Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World. As a contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books, Ben brings perspective and historical analysis to envision change around his area of research interest: exploring environmental conflict in film and literature.

Amber Sweat, a doctoral candidate in the French Ph.D. program, shares her take of ‘Black Girl’ (1966) and ‘Cuties’ (2020) where M'Bissine T. Diop is a cautionary figure who warns of colonialism's wounds and afterlives for Black girl belonging in the present day. Take a moment to immerse yourself in Amber's analysis entitled "The colonial wounds of Senegal's child," published through Africa is a Country, a site of opinion, analysis, and new writing on and from the African left.

The French Department has received a grant from the French Embassy and the French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and Arts Foundation to develop professional pathways for learners of French at UC Berkeley.

Each semester the Department awards the Mousseau Prize for best undergraduate essay in French. For Fall 2022, we are happy to announce that the award goes to David Villani! His paper, which was written for Prof. Déborah Blocker’s class on Religious Fanaticism, Toleration, and Laïcité, is entitled “'Article d’exportation': L’implémentation des lois laïques dans le Sénégal colonial.” The Mousseau prize comes with an award of $200. Congratulations David!

UC Berkeley's own Caroline Godard, a doctoral student in the French Ph.D. program, recently found her work to be published in the Early Modern French Studies. For readers and researchers entranced by Montaigne, this article is the ideal read. Congratulations, Caroline!

Title: Being ‘time-bound’: Montaigne on Touch, Contagion, and the Contemporary


In 2023, we will mark the twentieth anniversary of the passing of the lesbian activist, writer and
philosopher Monique Wittig (1935-2003), as well as the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of
her Corps lesbien, with a two-part international conference: « Monique Wittig : Twenty Years
Later / Monique Wittig : Vingt ans après »
. Hosted jointly by the Department of French at the
University of California – Berkeley and the Institut des Études Genre at the Université de

Warm congratulations to Tony Soyka on his retirement, which was celebrated with a jam session (including songs by Tony himself) in Ishi Court on June 9. Thank you, Tony, for your seven years of service as Undergraduate Advisor in Comparative Literature, and your two years of doubling up in French as well! We, and our students, have a lot to be thankful for. We wish you all the best in this next phase, and hope you will come back to visit!

On May 2 the French Department held a celebration in honor of Distinguished Professor Emeritus David Hult's career, with special invited speakers who were former students.

Mary Franklin-Brown (Christ’s College, University of Cambridge) presented “The Architecture of Song,”
in which she examined two sets of architectural remains—the Chertsey tile and the ducal hall built for Richard Cœur de Lion in Poitiers—in the light of lyric form and Pythagorean harmony.

On Sunday April 10, the French Department set out to animate an otherwise sleepy campus morning by bringing politics and coffee to Dwinelle Hall’s Library of French Thought. The first round of France’s presidential election was announced at 11:00 AM PST. Leading up to the announcement, conversation percolated into beamish or bleak anticipation for France’s five years ahead.

We are sad to report that Professor Emeritus Leo Bersani died on February 20, 2022.

As of August 2021, William Burton joined the Department of French. They have a rich background in teaching, research and service in higher education and the Humanities, and their interests and expertise in 18th- and 20th-century French literature and philosophy; gender, sexuality, and feminism; and theoretical consideration in critical social and translation frameworks will inspire you to spark a conversation and explore new ideas!

Dr. Margot Szarke, a long-time lecturer and researcher, was recently awarded the 2021 Society of Dix-Neuvièmistes Publication Prize for the article "Modern Sensitivity: Émile Zola's Synaesthetic Cheeses."

We congratulate Margot on this amazing accomplishment and for producing such wonderful scholarly work! If you are interested in reading the article, click HERE.

First-year language coordinator Dr. Daniel Hoffmann has been selected from more than 500 nominees as a recipient of the Campus's "Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times" award. Thank you, Daniel, for the innovation and creativity you've helped bring to our program during these disruptive times!

Congratulations to Debarati Sanyal on the award of a Guggenheim Fellowship for her book project, Arts of the Border: Voices of Displacement at the Edges of Europe! Read about Professor Sanyal and the three other Berkeley Guggenheim awardees in the Daily Cal. The announcement of the fellows can be found here. Bravo, Debarati, on this amazing distinction!

2013 Ph.D. Maya Angela Smith, currently Associate Professor of French at the University of Washington, has just been named co-winner of the 2020 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies for her book Senegal Abroad! Read the award announcement here!

Congratulations to Professor Emerita Suzanne Guerlac, Professor Emerita Ann Smock, Professor Mairi McLaughlin, and Professor Nicholas Paige, on the publication of their new books! They can't even fit in the same photo... Please see the "Books" section of our site for more information!

Please note that because of pandemic conditions, our phone lines are not being monitored. Instead, see our "Contact" page for the email of the appropriate person to field your questions. Please also note that departmental mail is currently being stored as it comes in, so physical mail will not be delivered to the departmental community.

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Mousseau Undergraduate Prizes In French!

To: Our Spring 2020 Graduates in French