Specialization in Culture & Society

Specialization in Culture & Society

General Description

The Specialization in Culture & Society is designed for students who seek an academic or non-academic career in which they combine advanced training in culture, language, and literature with interdisciplinary study in a related field, such as anthropology, art, architecture, history, economics, philosophy, political science, or sociology.

Statement of Goals

French Culture & Society is an interdisciplinary area of study whose object is France and the Francophone world. It is situated at the confluence of several disciplines, among them history (cultural, intellectual, political, and social), cultural studies (including folklore and popular culture), and interarts and visual studies (including art, architecture, film, bandes dessinées and literature). The Specialization in Culture & Society is designed to develop the skills needed for the analysis and interpretation of a wide range of cultural artifacts in an historical and contextual perspective. Students will acquire a broad base of factual knowledge as well as the capacity to understand and apply a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches.

The goals of the Specialization in Culture & Society are:

  1. To provide students with an essential historical base, consisting of general knowledge of French history, culture, and politics from the Middle Ages to the Revolution, pursued in greater depth from the Revolution to the present.
  2. To introduce students to the most important methods of cultural analysis, including the semiotics and sociology of culture, cultural and social history, critical theory, and interarts discourse.
  3. To expose students to the diversity of objects encompassed by the term “French culture & society.” These objects are verbal and visual, material and symbolic, elite and popular.
  4. To offer students the opportunity to establish a link with a related area through courses taken within and/or outside the department.
  5. To train students to conduct research in French culture & society, and to help them develop the skills needed to communicate the results of their research within the profession as future scholars and teachers. Students who are completing the Ph.D. with this specialization will generally be competitive candidates for positions whose primary or secondary area of specialization is French Culture & Society.


Students are required to take 33-36 credits of coursework.  FR 571, Literary Theory and Criticism, FR 580, Approaches to French and Francophone Civilization and FR 501A and FR 501 B, Pro-Seminars in French Studies, are required.  Other courses will be selected in consultation with the advisor.

Candidates who have never spent an extended period of time in a Francophone country are strongly encouraged to spend at least one semester in France or a Francophone country/region.

Please note that this is a basic outline of the major steps leading to the award of a Ph.D. in the Culture & Society track of the Department of French and Francophone Studies.  For more details and information, please see the Graduate Handbook.