The Department of French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the richest and most varied both in faculty and in programs, with important strengths in literary interpretation, critical theory, the study of civilization, cinema, Francophone literature, theoretical and applied linguistics, and computer-assisted teaching. Members of the faculty have received national and international recognition; graduates serve on the faculties of numerous colleges and universities both in this country and abroad. The French Embassy has designated the department a Centre d'Excellence, one of several in the country.
The Department offers both a major and a minor in French, in addition to a well-designed series of courses in French language. The French Studies option focuses on courses in literature, language, linguistics, and civilization, while the Commercial French Studies option combines a concentration in French with appropriate courses in business. In addition, the department participates in the curriculum in Teacher Education leading to the B.A. in the Teaching of French. Study Abroad opportunities enhance the undergraduate education in French.
Because of the diversity of specializations among its faculty, the Department of French is able to offer full programs in three fields, at both master's and doctoral levels. The Program in French Studies is designed to prepare M.A. and Ph.D. students in literature and culture. The Program in French Linguistics focuses on social aspects of the French language, both historically and in contemporary French-speaking societies. The Program in Language Learning and Teaching (M.A. / Ph.D.) reflects a long-standing commitment by the Department to the preparation of language teachers and to research in language learning theory and methodology. In addition, the department offers an online Professional Development Sequence in French Translation.
The University of Illinois Library, the third largest university library in the United States (after Harvard and Yale), has an outstanding French collection which is regularly updated. Of particular note is the Proust collection, the best outside France. The Proust collection and the late Professor Philip Kolb’s research have been digitized into the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research. The Rare Book Room also houses an impressive collection of materials from the earlier periods of French literature and French grammatical thought. The library subscribes to more than two hundred periodicals relating to the area of French language, literature, and civilization. The Modern Languages and Linguistics Library hosts information resources for students and faculty.
The Department hosts many events annually including a speaker series and conferences. In recent years, it has hosted the annual Nineteenth Century French Studies Conference and the Twentieth-Century French Studies Conference, among others. In addition, the Department of French is the home of the publication of Contemporary French Civilization, founded by the late Lawrence R. Schehr and co-edited by Jean-Philippe Mathy.