French Studies

  • Bertaux
  • Eiffel
  • Joan of Arc
  • La Balsa
  • Lascaux
  • Mont
  • Rodin

Welcome to French Studies, home of exceptional scholars and enthusiastic students and an integral segment of Rice’s newly formed Department of Classical and European Studies. We pride ourselves on our interdisciplinarity, our devotion to teaching, and on the breadth of our interests. In courses from medieval courtly love to French philosophy since the Enlightenment, from post-colonial Africa to social issues in contemporary France, from women in the 19th-century literary imagination to the art of reading and interpretation, our focus is never just on the literary and linguistic but also on gender and visual art, history and medicine, post-colonialism and critical theory.

Whether they major (or are simply welcome visitors) in French Studies, our students enjoy a wide range of opportunities. They are encouraged to join our Club Chouette and its regular conversations over lunch. They study abroad in allied programs in Paris and Aix-en-Provence. We make available to them a variety of fellowships to support their travel and accept many of the courses they take abroad for credit towards their degree at Rice. Seniors who wish to graduate with honors, finally, enjoy personal supervision in their final year should they choose to complete a senior thesis.

A majority of our courses are offered entirely in French. But we also offer select courses in English (some of these in collaboration with our colleagues in Classical Studies and German Studies) as we look to share the richness of French and European traditions with the wider Rice student body. From the Song of Roland to the Romantic poets, from Montaigne and Rabelais to Descartes and Pascal, from the Enlightenment to the 19th-century realists to existentialist theater, French art and intellectual thought paint a trajectory—literary, historical, cultural—that remains indispensable to the study of the humanities and of our ever increasingly global world.

All students who arrive at Rice with AP credit in French of 4 or 5, or who have passed the International Baccalaureate with a 6 or a 7 in this languages,can immediately enroll in all courses at the 300 or 400 level in the program in question without taking a placement exam. Otherwise, all students are required to take the placement exam administered by CLIC and will be assigned to courses in accordance with their level.

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