Specialization in Literature

Specialization in Literature

General Description

The Specialization in Literature offers numerous courses in the different periods and genres of metropolitan and non-metropolitan literature. Candidates also choose electives in French and related subjects to ensure breadth of training as well as depth.

Statement of Goals

The study of literature is the humanistic discipline that seeks to understand certain aesthetic achievements through the interpretation and analysis of works of oral, written, and dramatic art. It requires a sound knowledge of literary languages, styles, genres, and themes; a familiarity with the history of literary movements and ideas; and an awareness of the range of critical and theoretical approaches to literary works. Moreover, students of literature must acquire and develop the critical skills necessary to analyze and interpret literary texts.

The goals of the Specialization in French Literature are:

  1. To provide students with a broad knowledge of French and Francophone literatures and of their general relationship to other literatures, together with a specialized knowledge of a particular literary period, genre, or movement.
  2. To provide students with a sound historical basis for the study of literature and introduce them to the insights that other disciplines can bring to an understanding of the relationships between literature and the society for which it was written.
  3. To introduce students to a variety of theoretical approaches to literature, such as semiotic, thematic, feminist, narratological, philological, sociological, and phenomenological approaches.
  4. To develop in students the linguistic and analytical skills that will enable them to read literary texts with full understanding and to develop the critical skills that will enable them to interpret works of literature with insight and perception.
  5. To teach students the techniques of literary research and to develop the skills required to communicate the results of their research to others in the classroom, at professional meetings, and in publications.


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.

To increase the candidate’s employment opportunities, it is recommended that a minor be developed. A minor gives special visibility to a substantial secondary interest of the candidate within French Studies. The minor can be another literary specialty, another field, or an interdisciplinary topic with courses taken outside the Department. The minor is defined as a minimum of three courses in the specified area. Note that a minor taken entirely outside the department will increase the number of credits hours for the degree.

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