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studies supported by an extensive and distinctive curriculum of courses based on literary texts, film, and cultural and historical documents, and other media.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.
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 French-speaking 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 themselves 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 First- and Second-Year Colloquia provides incoming students with the opportunity to explore specific topics in a small-class 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 French-speaking countries, on-campus activities at La Maison Francophone residence hall, and opportunities to serve the broader community both at home and abroad.
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.
This coed program residence houses 30 students and has a staff that includes a French-speaking 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.
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 culture in Arezzo for students interested in Italian, especially vocal music.