Department of French and Italian

  • Chair

    Thomas A. Trezise

  • Associate Chair

    Gaetana Marrone-Puglia

  • Departmental Representative

    Efthymia Rentzou

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    André Benhaïm

  • Professor

    David M. Bellos, also Comparative Literature

    Pietro Frassica

    Gaetana Marrone-Puglia

    F. Nick Nesbitt

    Thomas A. Trezise

  • Associate Professor

    André Benhaïm

    Göran M. Blix

    Simone Marchesi

    Efthymia Rentzou

    Volker Schröder

    Christy Nicole Wampole

  • Assistant Professor

    Kathryn A. Chenoweth

  • Senior Lecturer

    Anna Cellinese

    Florent Masse

    Christine M. Sagnier

  • Lecturer

    Daniele De Feo

    Elisa Dossena

    Alessandro Giammei, also Council of the Humanities

    Rachel Hart

    Johnny A. Laforet

    Murielle M. Perrier

    Raphael Piguet

    Fanny Raineau

    Sara Teardo

  • Visiting Lecturer

    Giovanni Riotta

  • Associated Faculty

    April Alliston, Comparative Literature

    Bridget Alsdorf, Art and Archeology

    David A. Bell, History

    Christine M. Boyer, Architecture

    Jeffrey Dolven, English

    Anthony T. Grafton, History

    Wendy Heller, Music

    Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature

    Michael W. Jennings, German

    Jhumpa Lahiri, Lewis Center for the Arts, Creative Writing

    Pedro Meira Monteiro, Spanish and Portuguese

    Philip G. Nord, History

    Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature

    Clare Teresa M. Shawcross, History, Hellenic Studies

    Ezra N. Suleiman, Politics

The Department of French and Italian offers a liberal arts major designed to give students a thorough grounding in the language, literature, and culture of one or more of the subjects it teaches, seen as independent disciplines or in combination with other languages and cognate subjects. Its courses provide practical instruction in the French and Italian languages; the literatures and cultures of France and Italy in all periods, from medieval to contemporary; and literature in French written in other parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Students are encouraged to complement their courses in French and/or Italian with related and varied courses in other literatures, art history, history, political science, sociology, comparative literature, or other humanities subjects.

In addition to serving as the focus for an education in liberal arts, the French and Italian concentrations can be the basis for graduate or professional study. In mostly small classes and seminars, allowing extensive student/teacher interaction, students become equipped to take up careers in many walks of life, including journalism, business, law, government service, and international affairs. For non-majors, the department offers a rich set of language courses, from introductory to very advanced. It also offers a popular certificate program, allowing the study of French and Italian to be combined with concentration in history, architecture, English, politics, or any other subject available at Princeton.

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The French Language Program. An Advanced Placement score of 5 or an SAT Subject Test score of at least 760 is required to satisfy the A.B. foreign language requirement at entrance, or for admission to a 200-level course.

Students who wish to continue a language begun in secondary school must have their proficiency measured either by a College Board score or by a placement test administered prior to course registration. Placement will depend on previous training and proficiency.

The normal program for beginners seeking a basic mastery of French is the sequence 101, 102, 107, which satisfies the University's language requirement. Normally students electing a beginner's course in any language will receive credit only if two terms are completed.

Students showing particular gifts in 101 may be admitted to the accelerated, double-credit spring course, 102-7, which also satisfies the University's language requirement.

Students with advanced placement in French will be placed in either 103 or 105 and will proceed to either 107 or 108 to satisfy the University language requirement. They also may be placed directly into 108. Students who have successfully completed 107 cannot take 108.

Course credit in 107 or 108 is also available through approved summer courses abroad (see Study and Work Abroad below). Funding may be available for selected and committed students. Students must pass a placement test upon their return to satisfy the language requirement.

The Italian Language Program. An Advanced Placement score of 5 or an SAT Subject Test score of at least 760 is required to satisfy the A.B. foreign language requirement at entrance, or for admission to a 200-level course.

Students who wish to continue a language begun in secondary school must have their proficiency measured either by a College Board score or by a placement test administered prior to course registration. Placement will depend on previous training and proficiency.

The normal program for beginners seeking a basic mastery of Italian is the sequence 101, 102, 107, which satisfies the University's language requirement. Normally students electing a beginner's course in any language will receive credit only if two terms are completed.

Students showing particular gifts in 101 may be admitted to the accelerated, double-credit spring course, 102-7, which also satisfies the University's language requirement.

Students with advanced placement in Italian will be placed in 107 to fulfill the University language requirement.

Course credit in 107 is also available through approved summer courses abroad (see Study and Work Abroad below). Funding may be available for selected and committed students. Students must pass a placement test upon their return to satisfy the language requirement.

All questions concerning placement and summer study are handled by the Director of the relevant language program.

Advanced Placement

For information about advanced placement, see the French and Italian language programs described above.

Prerequisites

The normal requirement for admission to the department is successful completion of at least one, preferably two, 200-level courses, including one of the following: FRE 211, 215, 221, 222, 224, or 225; ITA 208, 209, or 220. Students who have not satisfied this prerequisite by the end of sophomore year should consult with the departmental representative. Concentrators who plan to participate in one of the certificate programs, such as African studies, African American studies, European cultural studies, Latin American studies, or the study of gender and sexuality, must also satisfy the prerequisites of that program.

Early Concentration

Qualified students are encouraged to begin departmental concentration in the sophomore year. This has the advantage of a longer period for independent work and preparation of the senior thesis; it also makes a semester or junior year abroad more feasible.

Program of Study

All students are expected to include one advanced language course (FRE 207, 307, 407; ITA 207, 307) in their subject(s) of concentration. Any two of the following courses can count as one course credit for departmental requirement: FRE 211, 215, 221, 222, 224, 225; ITA 208, 209, 220, 225.

Courses taught in the department place varying emphases on language, literary history and interpretation, aesthetics and literary theory, and cultural and intellectual history. Students are therefore able to pursue courses of study that are consistent with their own interests. To complement this individualized approach to students' plans of study, the department offers four distinct tracks within the concentration in French and/or Italian:

Track 1. Concentration in one language, literature, and culture
Students concentrate in French or Italian. Eight upper-division courses are counted toward concentration. At least five of these must be in the language and subject of concentration. Up to three of the eight may be cognate courses approved by the departmental representative and drawn from other sections of the department or from other humanities and social science subjects.

Track 2. Concentration in two languages, literatures, and cultures
Students intending to combine work in two languages, civilizations, and cultures normally take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in one of the languages (one of which may be a cognate), and three in the other relevant language. The first language of concentration must be either French or Italian.

Track 3. Concentration in literature and any other related field approved by the departmental representative
Students intending to combine work in French or Italian and another related field normally take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in the relevant language and literature (one of which may be a cognate), and three in the other field. For example, students specializing in French or Italian and History, Politics, or Art and Archaeology, might take appropriate courses in those departments, such as HIS 345, 350, 351, or 365; POL 371, 372, 381, or 391; or ART 319, 320, or 333.

Track 4. Concentration in Literature and the Creative Arts
This track is designed for students who would like to combine work in French or Italian and a creative art, such as theater, music, dance, painting, film, and creative writing. Upon approval by the departmental representative, the student normally would take a minimum of eight upper-division courses: five in the relevant language and literature and three in the field related to the art of interest. In some cases, an original work of creation (e.g., paintings, prose, or poetry), or of performance (e.g., theater), may substitute for the senior thesis. In these cases, students will be required also to submit a substantial critical work of at least 6,000 but no more than 10,000 words (25-35 pages), in which they will position and discuss their creative work in relation to the historical and cultural context of the language in question.

Important Note: Any upper-level French or Italian course taught in English will require all written work to be completed in French or Italian in order to count toward the concentration.

Independent Work

Junior Papers. At the time of entering the department, and in all cases no later than spring of the sophomore year, students should discuss their likely area of interest with the departmental representative in order to make the attribution of junior advisers as appropriate as possible. The adviser will be assigned at the beginning of junior year. Students should get in touch with their Junior Adviser and plan regular meetings. In consultation with their adviser, students will also choose the language in which they will draft their paper. Responsibility for making and keeping these arrangements falls on the student.

The first junior paper, written in the fall semester, should be about 4,000 words. The second junior paper, written in the spring semester, should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Both junior papers may be written in English, in which case a three-page summary in the relevant language must be provided. If the paper is written in the relevant language, a three-page summary in English is required.

Students following tracks 2, 3 or 4 may write one junior paper in one of their two subjects of concentration, and one in the other.

In preparing their papers students should conform to the principles specified in the University's instructions for the writing of essays. Presentation should follow either the Modern Language Association Handbook or The Chicago Manual of Style, with consistency.

Senior Thesis. As the culmination of their independent work, senior students write a thesis on an approved topic. Late in their junior year, students will discuss possible areas of interest with the departmental representative. Topics chosen in the past have ranged across the field of French and Italian studies, from linguistic problems and literary techniques to close textual analysis to thematic and ideological study. Students primarily interested in culture and civilization have written on art, on political and economic issues, on education, and on a variety of social questions. For students following tracks 2, 3, and 4, joint supervision may be arranged. The senior thesis is a major commitment of a student's time and energy, and the most important yardstick for choosing a topic is willingness to spend many hours immersed in that particular set of texts or problems.

Concentrators in French and/or Italian who are also earning certificates should consult with their advisers about selecting a suitable thesis topic. The senior thesis may be written in English, in which case a three-page summary in the relevant language must be provided. If the thesis is written in the relevant language, a three-page summary in English is required.

Senior theses should not be more than 20,000 words, nor should they fall below 15,000 words.

Senior Departmental Examination

The examination, taken in May of the senior year, is designed to test aspects of the student's entire program of study in the department. A list of required and recommended readings is provided for each of the languages and literatures taught in the department, and guides students in preparing for the written examination. The format of the examination is as follows:

1. Written Component (three hours) in class, including: (a) A sight translation. This exercise will consist of the translation of a short prose text (500 words or less) from French or Italian into English. The resulting translation should reflect the linguistic command and stylistic sophistication expected from a reasonably proficient speaker of French or Italian. For concentrators following Track 2, and combining French and Italian, the original text will be given in the dominant language. (b) An essay written in the language of specialization. Students will choose one topic out of three culture/literature questions. Topics will be based on the reading lists and course offerings.

2. Oral Presentation (30 minutes). A brief (10-15 minutes) oral presentation, in the language of concentration (French or Italian), followed by a discussion. The content of the presentation will be determined and prepared by the student in concert with his/her adviser, and may reflect any aspect of the student's own general intellectual and academic experience in the department. It may therefore stem from the senior thesis, but also largely refer to the overall course of study achieved in the subject of concentration. The examining committee will be constituted by at least two permanent faculty of each section.

Note: In order to better prepare for the comprehensive examination, students are strongly encouraged to include either FRE 307 or ITA 307 in their departmental course work.

Study and Work Abroad

The department strongly encourages its concentrators and certificate students to spend as much time as they can in any country, including those in Africa, where the language(s) they study is (are) widely spoken. There are several ways of doing this within the four-year undergraduate degree: by study abroad for one or two semesters; by summer study abroad; or by obtaining summer work or an internship abroad.

Junior Semester/Junior Year Abroad. Students planning to spend semester or their whole junior year abroad should seek advice from the departmental representative and from relevant faculty in choosing a suitable program of study. Further assistance is available from the Office of International Programs. Departmental and University approval is required.

Grades awarded by foreign institutions for courses that are recognized in lieu of Princeton courses are not included in the computation of departmental honors.

Students studying abroad for one or two semesters are not exempted from independent work requirements. The responsibility for consulting with advisers, as well as for meeting all normal deadlines, lies with the student. Students who complete a semester abroad may normally count two of the course units completed abroad as departmentals. Students must complete the program abroad to the standard required by the foreign institution.

Summer Language Study. The department has a special relationship with the Institut International de Langue IS Aix-en-Provence, which offers intensive four-week language courses in French at various levels. The department is able to provide financial support to a small number of students in these courses each year.

It also maintains ties with the Bryn Mawr College summer programs held in Avignon, in French language, literature, art, and civilization (including social, political, and economic institutions). See the departmental representative if you are interested in one of these programs.

Summer Work Abroad. Princeton-in-France is a long-established summer work program that selects students who qualify linguistically to take on the responsibilities of a paying summer job or internship in France. Travel grants and salary supplements are available to students who receive financial aid. Announcements will be made early in the fall concerning a November information meeting about the program. The application deadline is early December.

Information about other placements and internships abroad may also be obtained from the director of international internships in the Office of International Programs.

Certificate in Language and Culture

Admission. The program is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students should consult the departmental representative by the beginning of the junior year. Ordinarily, students concentrating in language and literature departments, including comparative literature, will be eligible for the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the linguistic base for the language and culture certificate is different from the linguistic base of the concentration; and (b) the work required for the language and culture certificate does not duplicate the requirements of the major. Students pursuing area studies certificates may earn the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the courses they elect to satisfy the requirements of the area studies program are different from those they elect to satisfy the requirements of the language and culture certificate program; and (b) they submit a piece of independent work in addition to the independent work that satisfies the requirements of the area studies program.

Application forms are available from the departmental office located in 303 East Pyne and on the FIT website. A separate application must be completed for each language in which a certificate will be pursued.

Plan of Study. The Certificate in Language and Culture is available in French and Italian and involves satisfactory completion of the following course requirements:

1. Four departmental courses in the relevant language, linguistics, literature, or culture, excluding courses that do not have a language prerequisite. At least three of these courses must be at the 300 level (or higher). At the 200 level, the course must be higher than FRE 207 and ITA 207. Courses below these levels are not eligible. At the discretion of the departmental representative, a student may substitute one pre-approved course per semester abroad, or one pre-approved course taken in the summer. A 200-level course is a prerequisite for taking 300-level courses in French or Italian. Courses must be taken for a letter grade, no Pass/D/Fail or Audit.

Please note: Any upper-level French or Italian course taught in English will require all written work to be completed in French or Italian in order to count toward the concentration.

2. Independent Work. This requirement can be satisfied in one of several ways: (a) by a substantial paper on a topic agreed upon with the student's appointed adviser; (b) by a substantial paper growing out of one of the courses taken to fulfill the certificate requirement (this paper is in addition to the work required in the course; the subject and scope of this paper will be agreed upon with the student's appointed adviser); or (c) with the agreement of the student's home department, a student may submit a junior paper or a senior thesis that satisfies the requirements of both the home department and the Department of French and Italian. A junior paper or senior thesis of this sort must be based in substantial part on foreign language sources and display effective competence in utilizing the relevant language as an indispensable research tool.

Papers of types (a) and (b) are approximately 4,000 to 5,000 words in length. Students are urged to write them in the appropriate foreign language. Alternatively, they may submit the independent work in English together with a 700- to 1,000-word summary in the foreign language. Students submitting a junior paper or a senior thesis in lieu of independent work [in line with option (c) above] must also submit the summary in the foreign language.

Courses