Studying French at Hopkins means not only acquiring the fundamentals of a language with more than 115 million native speakers worldwide, but also developing invaluable analytical skills and cultural awareness. Graduates of our major and minor programs are equipped with tools that are increasingly in high professional demand, such as the ability to speak and write persuasively, to constructively discuss work produced by colleagues, to interpret complex texts, and to explain sources of intercultural misunderstanding.
The coursework we offer in French language, cultural studies, and literature aims above all to develop critical thinking. How do I recognize a valid research question? How do I define a research project and create an appropriate scholarly apparatus (abstract, bibliography, sources, and citations)? How do I know when my argument is properly sustained and convincing? To this end, students are exposed to authentic cultural materials, from poems, novels, and films to political speeches and scientific treatises. We refer to this distinctive approach, which leads for our majors to the composition of the senior thesis, as travailler en langue: working in and through the target language.
Many French majors at Hopkins are, in fact, double majors. Majors commonly paired with either a major or minor in French include the biomedical sciences, engineering, international studies, or any number of the social sciences and humanities.
The French language enjoys official status at the United Nations, in the European Union, and in 38 countries worldwide. Recent graduates of our program have gone on to prominent careers in which mastery of French and knowledge of the associated cultures have proven an asset at the workplace or even the primary reason for hire. These include such areas as aid and development work, public health, international marketing, finance, law, education, philanthropy, management, editing, and performance.