The French and Italian department offers a major and minor in French and Francophone studies supported by an extensive and distinctive curriculum of courses based on literary texts, film, and cultural and historical documents, and other media. We also offer courses in beginning and intermediate Italian. We strongly encourage students to continue their language study abroad in a variety of programs suited to their interests and level of mastery.

Additionally Oberlin currently offers courses in beginning and intermediate modern standard Arabic, as well as topical courses on Arab culture and society taught in English. We offer no major in Arabic at this time. Students wishing to take Arabic language courses, who have previous exposure to Arabic, should consult with the instructor about placement.

Read more about the study of Arabic languages in the course catalog.


Curriculum Overview

French: The program is built on four integrated objectives: mastery of spoken and written French; acquisition of critical appreciation of literature written in French, and of Frenchspeaking cinema; the study of culture through cultural analysis; and awareness of the life- changing experiences entailed in the intellectual and personal challenges of learning a different way of being. We encourage majors to live in La Maison Francophone residence hall on campus, where they may immerse them- selves in the target language and culture in daily contact with native speakers.

In addition to beginning and intermediate language courses in French, we offer advanced courses in writing and stylistics. The broad intellectual and literary currents of French and Francophone literature, culture, and film are introduced in intermediate courses, and more specialized courses at the advanced level take up specific authors, works, periods, trends, themes, or approaches. A Fresh-man/Sophomore Colloquium provides incoming students with the opportunity to explore specific topics in a smallclass environment. At the advanced level, faculty work individually with students in private readings and on senior honors projects. We may offer advanced courses in alternate years or they may vary from year to year, reflecting faculty research interests and topics of current interest to students.

The French major is interdisciplinary, allowing students in other majors to combine their interests in music, history, art history, comparative literature, cinema studies, Middle Eastern and North African studies, politics, and other subject areas with a major or minor in French.

Majors may integrate classroom learning with study abroad programs in Frenchspeaking countries, on-campus activities at La Maison Francophone residence hall, and opportunities to serve the broader community both at home and abroad.

Italian: Students can enroll in first- and second-year Italian. Courses are designed to develop the ability to use Italian as a means of oral and written communication and to increase your understanding of Italian culture.

Class instruction is supplemented by such extracurricular activities as an Italian Movie Night and La Tavola Italiana, where students discuss current events, in Italian, over lunch.

Other resources include the Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, a state-of-the art learning center and language lab specializing in technology-assisted foreign language education.

La Maison Francophone

This coed program residence houses 30 students and has a staff that includes a Frenchspeaking faculty member and two graduate assistants from France. Also referred to as Bailey House, students may participate in such programs as a film series, concerts and various fêtes, study breaks, lectures, French breakfasts, and other activities that provide an informal cultural component to the French curriculum. Students also come together to speak French during meals at Chez Nous, the French dining room in Stevenson Hall.

Study Abroad

The department expects that French majors will spend at least one semester, and preferably a year, in an academic program in a French-speaking country. Oberlin has a bilateral exchange with the Institut de Sciences-Politiques, a prestigious grande école in Paris specializing in politics, economics, history, and European institutions.The Oberlin affiliated Center for University Programs Abroad/CUPA allows students to enroll directly in the Université de Paris or study with faculty from the Conservatoire de Paris.

Other affiliated programs include the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Center for Critical Studies in Paris; the CIEE Contemporary French Studies program in Paris; the CIEE program at the University of Haute Bretagne in Rennes; the American University Center of Provence (Aix; Marseille); the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) programs at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, and at the University of St. Louis in St. Louis, Senegal. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music sponsors a summer program in Italian language and cul-ture in Arezzo for students interested in Italian, especially vocal music.

Course Sampling

  • FREN 250 – French Cinema: National Traditions, Global Horizons
  • FREN 321 - Pratiques de l’écrit
  • FREN 351 – Bardot, Deneuve, Moreau: Stardom, Sexuality, and Art
  • FREN 373 – Introduction à la littérature francophone
  • FREN 450 - Écrire la guerre
  • ITAL 101 – Beginning Italian I
  • ITAL 203 – Italiano intermedio accellerato

About The Faculty

EunJung (Grace) An
Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies
(440) 775-6657/
Interests: French cinema and visual studies, film theory, French orientalisms, contemporary French literature

Ivana Di Siena
Instructor of Italian
(440) 775-8187/
Interests: Italian language, literature, cinema; language pedagogy

E. Elizabeth Murphy
Assistant Professor of French
(440) 775-5402/
Interests: literary and cultural history, the First World War, the comic and the picaresque, theories of the novel

Preeamvada Leelah
Visiting Instructor in French
(440) 775-5590/
Interests: Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment movements of the 18th century, theater and the novel, modern adaptations of pre-revolutionary literature