As a major you will be expected to reach near fluency in your language skills, sharpening them in small classes and in casual conversations during French language meals in a dining hall. You can live the language and culture through Hamilton in France, where you will be challenged to speak nothing but French. You’ll emerge with new-found confidence and a deeper understanding of yourself.

About the Major

In the tradition of the liberal arts, the French program at Hamilton encourages students to escape the confines of a single language and grow toward a larger understanding of the world. Hamilton students who have studied abroad often find that the experience has been among the most meaningful of their lives.

Hamilton’s French department offers a stellar study abroad program in Paris as well as top-notch professors who are really invested in their students. I felt immediately at home in my French classes at Hamilton, and when the time came to declare my major, the decision was obvious.

Elizabeth Collins ’10 — French major

The word "language" itself is of French origin, a fact that suggests the dramatic reach and importance of French throughout history and in the modern world. French is the language of much of the world's greatest literature and philosophy. It is widely spoken in such regions as Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, a legacy of the colonial era. It preceded English as the international language and so remains deeply woven into the discourse of history and diplomacy.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Assignment Editor, ABC News
  • Music Teacher, New York City Department of Education
  • Professor of French, Wesleyan University
  • Pilot, Delta Airlines
  • Chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble
  • Medical Writer, Providence Journal
  • Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Emory University
  • French Teacher, Choate Rosemary Hall
  • New York State Supreme Court Justice
  • Vice President of Product Development, Estee Lauder
  • International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Contact Information

French Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4771 french@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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First-Term French 110F

A thorough grounding in speaking, writing, reading and comprehension for beginners. This is an intensive, interactive course which allows students to gain oral fluency fast and start writing short texts. Textbook readings and exercises supplemented by short texts and films.

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Work through the lens of French Cinema. 160S

This First-Year course offers an overview of major movements of French cinema's long and significant history focusing on the topic of work. It includes ten films, from the time of the Lumière brothers to post WWI poetic realism and from the 1960s' New Wave and militant cinema to today's new realism and parody. The theme of work will familiarize students with French social and political history. Taught in English (films in French with English subtitles). Reading on the theory of film and French cultural history will supplement screenings. The class may include field trips. Oral Presentations.

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Crick, Crack, Boum.. Comics and Graphic Novels in France 230S

This course explores France's “Ninth Art,” the French comic books, or Bandes Dessinées (BD). We will analyze a variety of BDs from classics such as Tintin and Asérix to Persepolis (Satrapi), from fantasy to autobiographies. Not only are BDs a popular cultural and art form, they also participate in French literary culture in a broader sense. Key concepts include the representation of immigration, war, national and personal identity, consumerism, and the environment. Students will write response papers, do an oral presentation and make their own comics (no drawing skills required!).

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Francophone Cultures 280

An introduction to cultures of French-speaking areas beyond the Hexagon: Africa, the Caribbean, Canada. Topics include the history of slavery, colonization and neo-colonization; literatures; sculptures, masks, paintings; fashion; and cuisines. Discussion based on readings, films and presentations by native informants. Taught in French.

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Arthurian Legends and the Creation of Courtly Culture in Medieval France 404

This course examines the representation of social relationships in tales of King Arthur and the Round Table. Works and authors include Geoffrey of Monmouth, Marie de France, Lancelot and Perceval, La Quête du Saint Graal and La Mort du Roi Arthur, fabliaux and didactic texts (all read in modern French translation). Topics include the construction of gender roles ; dress and fashion; the politics of the court; and the role of clerics and readers in the definition of courtly culture. Oral exposé and brief papers on subjects that may bring in other disciplinary interests .

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East Meets West: Cultural Encounters with the Other in the Middle Ages and Beyond 414S

This course focuses on representations of Christians and Muslims in Old French literature that centers around or departs from the medieval Mediterranean world during a time of great political conflict but also fertile intercultural exchange. Texts include the Chanson de Roland, Floire et Blancheflore, Marco Polo's Livre des merveilles de Constantinople, the Fille du Comte de Ponthieu, Montequieu's Lettres persanes. Oral Presentations.

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