The French and Francophone Studies Program at Mills offers a dynamic, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary approach to language, culture, and literature. This transnational perspective recognizes the equal importance of the cultural and intellectual traditions emanating from France and its close neighbors, and from la francophonie: the French-speaking diaspora outside of Europe, especially in the Caribbean, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Our program is also unique in its emphasis on the study abroad experience as an integral part of understanding the richness and complexity of French and Francophone cultures.
The first two years of study, conducted exclusively in French, integrate an early exposure to the cultural and literary aspects of French and Francophone peoples with the acquisition of active linguistic skills. From the beginning, students are introduced to a variety of audiovisual and written documents representative of the French-speaking world, and as early as the second year, they are immersed in the serious study of literatures written in French.
Our advanced-level courses (also taught in French) expose students to a wide range of critical approaches to literature such as psychoanalysis, deconstruction, post-colonialism, gender, and diaspora theory. We seek to engage students in current intellectual debates on identity, cultural representation, and transnational feminism. Examples of such courses include Orientalism in the Novel and Francophone Women's Writing from Martinique, Haiti, and Guadeloupe. In addition to courses taught in French, we offer a number of interdisciplinary courses taught in English (see Letters) that can be taken as electives or as part the French and Francophone studies major.
Our small size enables us to develop a close working relationship with our students at all levels, and gives our program flexibility to accommodate individual needs. At the same time, we believe that the Mills experience must be complemented by study abroad in a French-speaking country of the student’s choice. Therefore, students majoring in French are required to spend at least one semester in a Mills-affiliated study abroad program in one of the following locations: Belgium, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Morocco, Quebec, Senegal, Switzerland, as well as several locations in France. Since this is a requirement, students with a declared major and an approved plan of study are eligible for a Germaine Thompson Scholarship, which supports the cost of travel.
While the minor in French and Francophone studies can usually be completed by taking courses only at Mills, we also encourage students electing to minor in our program to study abroad for a semester.
In addition to study abroad, students at an advanced level may also take advantage of cross-registration in the Department of French at UC Berkeley to enroll in courses complementing those offered in our program.
Many French and Francophone studies majors (who are often double majors) go on to graduate school and pursue successful careers in a wide range of fields both in the United States and abroad. These fields include law, international nonprofit organizations, education, and publishing.
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