To say that France is a country that inspires strong feelings is something of an understatement. Thomas Jefferson, who served as US Minister to France from 1784 to 1790 wrote: “Every man has two countries: his own, and France.” Thomas Friedman, journalist for the New York Times and expert on globalization, recently stated, “If France were a stock, I’d sell it.” France is not just another country; it holds a special place in the American consciousness. George Gershwin, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin immortalized the image of the “American in Paris.” Movies such as Casablanca and Forget Paris portrayed the City of Lights as an unforgettable land of love, art, literature, music, food, wine, fashion, worldly sophistication; the study of French and Francophone cultures is fascinating in and of itself, but it also gives insight into the values of our own language and culture.
Each quarter, hundreds of students take undergraduate French language and literature courses at UCLA. French is a practical language that will expand your world and your job prospects. Learning French will prepare you for careers in education, international law and business, the arts, international health organizations, anthropology, diplomacy, and more. French is spoken not just in France, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland, but also in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mauritius, Cameroon, Reunion, Senegal, Mali and in parts of India and Vietnam. In fact, it is the second most widely used language, after English, at the United Nations and is spoken on every continent.
Our courses offer a window into the compelling world of French literature and culture. Read Montaigne to better know who we are. Read Pascal to discover how “the heart has its reasons which reason does not know.” Read Stendhal or Balzac to understand the nature of love. Read Caribbean or African novels to learn about the struggle to assert independence and the hybrid (métis or mestizo) nature of post-colonial identity. The study of French and Francophone texts will train you to think critically, to develop your writing and research skills, and to understand the power of language.
The Department encourages students in the Humanities – but also in the Social Sciences and Sciences – to apply for a Double Major. In addition to benefitting from a five-course overlap between the two Majors (when feasible), students may fulfill a portion of their French requirement with courses taken through the UCLA Travel Study program in Paris, and with courses taken at French and Francophone universities via the Education Abroad Program (or other approved programs), in cities like Paris, Bordeaux or Lyon. Double majors in the hard sciences and the humanities are sought after by many of today’s employers for their wide-ranging knowledge and dynamic skillset.
UCLA is a major center for French and Francophone Studies, providing an exciting range of courses on language, literature and culture. We organize film festivals, excursions to exhibits in the Los Angeles area, food fests, and poetry contests. We encourage you to attend one of our events or set up an appointment with our Director of Undergraduate Studies to learn more about the program.