Jun 05, 2023  
Course Catalog 2022-2023 
Course Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

French and Italian

Matthew Senior, Ruberta T. McCandless Professor of French, Chair
Grace An, Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies
Nathan Dize, Visiting Assistant Professor of French
Julien P. Roland, Lecturer of French
Ivana Di Siena, Instructor of Italian

 Visit the department webpage for up-to-date information on department faculty, visiting lecturers, and special events.

The Department of French and Italian offers a major and minor in French and Francophone studies and courses in beginning and intermediate Italian language and culture. Both programs are supported by a range of co-curricular activities and a selection of affiliated study away programs.


The French program offers a unique interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum aimed at preparing students to engage in ways that are meaningful to them with the diverse and dynamic Francophone world. The major and minor prepare students to be life-long, autonomous learners and users of French, a fast-growing, global language spoken on five continents. Students develop linguistic, cultural, and communicative competence, allowing them not just to hold a conversation in French, but also to begin to think and to view the world through cultural references, attitudes, and traditions that are different from their own. Students complete the major or minor prepared to join an engaged, digitally connected, global community of Francophones, having gained access to the rich traditions of the Francophone world and to the challenges facing it today.

Students who are interested in French and Francophone Studies and are motivated to learn French can, with proper planning, complete a major or minor in French, even if they have no previous language preparation. The French curriculum includes four levels of study; courses in all levels may count toward the major and minor.

  • The first level consists of beginning and intermediate language and culture courses for students who are new to French or building on prior preparation.
  • The second level includes a range of language and culture courses for students with different proficiency levels.
  • The third level includes a variety of courses in literature, history, film, and cultural studies, including interdisciplinary courses focused on topics such as queer media, activism, and thought in France; Francophone literature and the history of “esclavage et liberté,” and the history of French Creoles.
  • The fourth and final level consists of 400-level seminar-style courses focused on specific authors, works, topics, or trends in the French-speaking world. These courses serve as culminating or capstone experiences and provide students opportunities to work on course-related creative and research projects of their own design. French majors with the requisite GPA and a well-crafted research plan can apply at the end of their junior year to develop a year-long Honors project during their senior year.

Students are encouraged to reach beyond the curriculum offered by our department to explore English-taught courses in the wider Oberlin curriculum that deal with the Francophone world. These courses may count as full or partial credit toward the major and minor.

The French program offers students opportunities to integrate classroom learning with on-campus activities. We encourage majors to live in La Maison Francophone, where they have the opportunity of immersion in the target language and culture in daily contact with native speakers. French Conversation hours, held at French tables in Stevenson dining hall, in the co-ops, and in local cafés, are animated by native speakers and student leaders. Advisors work with students to find opportunities for study abroad in Francophone countries, including winter term and summer opportunities for students who cannot spend a full semester or year away.


In addition to courses supporting the French major, the department offers courses in beginning and intermediate Italian language and culture and co-curricular activities such as Italian movie nights and an Italian language table.

 See information about Research, Internships, Study Away, and Experiential Learning (RISE).

International Learning Center

The Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, located on the third floor of Peters Hall, is a state-of-the-art facility designed for both class and individual use at all levels of language learning. A staff of experts helps students develop their language skills and connect with French speakers around the world.

Advanced Placement

Students who have received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in French Language or French Literature, a score of 6 or 7 on the French (advanced) exam of the IB, a score of 626-800 on the French SAT II Exam, or who have completed the baccalaureate (bac) in a French lycée will be automatically awarded credit for one course toward graduation (FREN 300) which may be counted towards the minor or the major. They should enroll in one of the gateway courses for the French major and minor (FREN 301 FREN 309 FREN 321 ).

 Explore Winter Term projects and opportunities.

Majors and Minors

Initial Placement

It is the department’s policy to advance students as fast as achievement warrants. Students who have taken the SAT II Exam in French should enroll in courses according to their scores:

550-625 - FREN 205 FREN 206  
626-800 - FREN 301 FREN 309 FREN 321  

Students with a previous study of French who have not taken the SAT II exam should take the Oberlin French Placement Test online to determine their appropriate level.

 Visit the Language Placement website for instructions and information on the Oberlin French Placement Test.

Suggested Course Sequence

FREN 101  - FREN 102 FREN 205  - FREN 206 FREN 301 ; then other 300-level courses in French followed by 400-level courses.


FREN 301 FREN 309 , or FREN 321  is the prerequisite for other courses at the 300-level. Two 300-level courses beyond FREN 301  are the prerequisite for 400-level courses. Other prerequisites may be noted: see the course descriptions below.