University of California, Berkeley


In the Department of French, you can study French and francophone literature, culture, and film, along with the French language and French linguistics. The dedicated and creative teachers and scholars in our department share a commitment to excellence of instruction, whether it be in a first-year French class, a specialized course for majors (all of which are taught in French), a course on French literature in translation, or an advanced graduate seminar.

For its undergraduate majors and minors and its graduate students, the Berkeley French Department provides thorough coverage in the traditional, historically-based divisions of French literature and culture, as well as in francophone literatures. It blends this coverage with the study of a wide array of related fields and topics — from literary history and theory to philosophy, to social and cultural theory, to the study of gender and sexuality, historiography, visual arts and film, music, popular culture, and politics. We encourage independent and innovative thinking and research at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

We participate fully in the interdisciplinary emphasis that has traditionally distinguished study and research at Berkeley. Many of our faculty are affiliated with other programs in the University (with the Departments of Comparative Literature and Italian Studies, with programs in Romance Languages and Literatures and in Medieval Studies; with graduate Designated Emphases in Critical Theory, Film Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies; and with the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture). Graduate students typically count courses from other disciplines toward completion of their degree. We maintain close ties with scholars and writers in France, across North America, and around the world, and have a regular schedule of lectures and colloquia open to our students and colleagues, as well as to the public at large. Most years the Department welcomes a Pajus Distinguished Visitor in French Studies, who gives a series of public lectures. The Department also regularly hosts international conferences.

Study Abroad

There are numerous opportunities for education abroad at all stages of our program. Undergraduate majors typically participate in the University of California Education Abroad Program, which offers summer, semester, and year-long programs in Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux. For those wishing to take their first steps, our Summer Session Travel Study Office offers an exciting and rigorous program that takes students to Paris for six weeks and currently offers instruction in Elementary French (1), Intermediate and Advanced French conversation (13 and 14), and French History and Culture (43A). At the graduate level, the department has two yearly exchange programs with the Ecole Normale Supérieure and with the Institut d’Anglais at the Université Paris Diderot (Paris VII).


The UC Berkeley Library collects materials in all areas of French literature, including literary criticism, philosophy, and theory. The library maintains a strong collection in all divisions of French literature, from the medieval period to the present. The library also collects in the area of Francophone studies, including, but not limited to, material about Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and French-speaking Europe, as well as French-language dictionaries and other language reference material. The French collection is limited to materials primarily published in France. Materials on French subjects published outside France are listed with their respective provenance. For further information regarding these resources, see the French Studies collection page.

The Library of French Thought is located in 4229 Dwinelle Hall. The collection contains close to 8,000 volumes (including DVDs), approximately 150 journal titles, magazines, maps, slides, and other ephemera. Subjects such as linguistics, criticism, theatre, and philosophy are well represented. Our vast literature holdings cover the entire history of French writing from the earliest chansons to the New Novel to contemporary fiction and poetry. New items are being added to the collection on a monthly basis. There are many delights waiting to be uncovered in the stacks; please feel free to come in and browse at your leisure.

Undergraduate Programs

French: BA, Minor

Graduate Program

French: PhD
Romance Languages and Literatures (French): PhD (offered by the Graduate Group in Romance Languages and Literatures)

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Contact Information

Department of French

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2712

Fax: 510-642-8852

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Department Chair

Rick Kern

4123 Dwinelle Hall

Department Manager

Lydia Yoon

4205 Dwinelle Hall

Faculty Undergraduate Advisor

Michael Lucey

4210 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Student Services Advisor

Nina Rennert Cohen, MA

4118 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1202

Head Graduate Advisor

Mairi McLaughlin

4224 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Evan Faidley

4207 Dwinelle Hall

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