French Studies



«Je suis française comme les Grecs étaient grecs: parce qu’ils partagent non une origine commune mais une culture commune.  J’aime la langue française comme seule une étrangère peut l’aimer ; je l’aime pour sa tendresse et pour son exceptionnelle mémoire historique.  Mais elle ne se laisse pas facilement habiter ; elle réclame un certain temps avant de permettre à l’étranger de s’y installer.»

-Elisabeth, Baronne de Rothschild in Le Portrait par Pierre Assouline.

Located in the heart of one of the most vibrant cultural centers in the United States, Boston University’s French Studies program offers students of all levels a rich experience in reading and interpreting a wide variety of literary, cinematic, linguistic, and cultural texts.   A rigorous undergraduate language and literature program, supported by the Geddes Language Center, a superb language-learning facility, and closely keyed to four different study abroad programs, two in Paris, one in Grenoble and one in Niamey, Niger, all prepare students to come to “inhabit” the French cultural heritage and to enter a variety of professions in which a deep knowledge of French language and culture will be required.

Our graduate program offers advanced literature, culture and cinema courses leading to the M.A. and Ph.D.  An internationally known and respected faculty prepares students to enter careers in university (and other levels of) teaching.  Rated the most productive French department in the United States in terms of scholarship in 2006, our faculty members stand at the forefront of the discipline in each of their fields.  (Please see the link to information regarding each individual faculty member.)  Doctoral candidates have the opportunity to study and teach in Paris or at the ENS in Lyon in the third or fourth year of their graduate career. Thanks to the French Cultural Services and the work of the French Attaché as well as our excellent rapport with other French departments in the Boston area, our students have access to a constant flow of writers, filmmakers, scholars, and other cultural figures from France and other Francophone countries.  Several BU lecture series (including the department’s own Geddes Lecture Series, the Lectures in Criticism, sponsored by the BU Humanities Foundation, and the ongoing Translation Seminar) also provide our students frequent opportunities to stay abreast of the latest developments in our discipline.

As for cinema studies, the department annually hosts the “Tournées” French film festival and students can also take advantage of the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s French film festival and frequent special programs at the Harvard Film Archive.  Other important university resources include the Mugar Library and its Howard Gotlieb Collection of rare books and documents.  Our library is enriched through its connection to a Boston consortium of university libraries and by its proximity to the outstanding Boston Public Library.  Finally, the Boston University Humanities Foundation offers graduate students the opportunity to travel to other universities to present their research or to libraries here and/or in France to conduct that research.