Overview of the Department of French and Italian
The program in French in the Department of French and Italian fulfills its mission of excellence in a flagship University. Because of the expertise and diversity of its faculty it is able to offer a wide range of instructional opportunities. For undergraduate students French can be a major or a minor, or French courses can be electives. Students in Italian, Spanish, Government, European Studies, Business, Communication, Radio-Television-Film, and Natural Sciences typically take French courses. Graduate students in Comparative Literature, English, and Spanish regularly take courses in French.
The faculty consists of 24 professors of French including seven full professors, nine associate, one assistant, and seven lecturers. The department is going through a period of growth and renewal as established faculty continue their upward trajectory, recently tenured faculty come into national prominence, and recently recruited faculty members bring energy and new perspectives to the program. Full, associate, and assistant professors, in literature and linguistics, are actively involved in research and publication in different domains. They are regularly awarded research fellowships and grants, including NEH, Fulbright, and ACLS fellowships. The visibility of our faculty is measured by the fact that they are elected to office in national and local professional organizations, participate in conferences, belong to editorial boards of learned journals, and are called upon to evaluate manuscripts and grant proposals. Several faculty members have also designed very innovative web based courses.
In their courses dealing with literature and culture faculty members adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the study of France and francophone countries. Several of them teach from the perspective of French cultural studies and engage with history, art, literature, and film as they relate to specific periods of history and social issues. Their publications and courses offered reflect this orientation.
The linguists are specialists in the various domains of linguistics: historical linguistics, phonology, syntax, semantics, dialectology, sociolinguistics, and language acquisition. They keep up with the current research in the field and have gained an excellent reputation because of their publications.
The lecturers in the department have for years provided tireless support to the department. They are the individuals on whom the lower division courses depend. And they have been particularly creative in lending their expertise to develop our computer assisted instructional programs and in creating new specialized courses with the support of the department.
The undergraduate program prepares majors for a BA in French with courses in culture, literature, language, linguistics, and civilization. It provides the technical and pedagogical training required of students intending to teach in high schools and/or who desiring to pursue graduate studies in French. More generally it offers a Liberal Arts education to students wishing to pursue a law, medical, or scientific degree. In addition it teaches courses for nonmajors interested in acquiring a specialized knowledge in scientific French, business French, French linguistics, or French cinema.
The contribution of the department to undergraduate teaching takes on its full significance in today's world where the emphasis is on global experience. In a state like Texas where many students already know Spanish, the department promotes the importance of knowing French to be able to work in careers which involve France, Canada, the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
The French section has taken steps to modernize the way French is taught. Its modifications have already yielded impressive results. The lower division curriculum is being touted as a "model" language acquisition program, one that fully takes advantage of the multi-media possibilities of our new computerized classroom facilities. This is to date the only existing program of its kind in the United States. The upper division program has been remodeled with increased emphasis on French and Francophone cultures and language, in addition to the traditional attention to literature.
We have diversified our courses in order to offer more skills adapted to current needs. Thus we have now a track for students in International Business wishing to make French one of their specialties. The courses taught in French are designed to provide students with the language skills, the commercial vocabulary, and the cultural background indispensable to do business in French and francophone settings. For the past five years, four to five students enrolled in the Business French course have successfully passed the exam of the Chamber of Commerce of Paris. The department was officially licensed to administer this exam in Summer 2001. In spring 2000 a new course was created. Taught in English it is entitled Doing business in France. The Center for International Business (CIBER) is now requesting that we teach this course every semester.
We have developed a course in Scientific French for students who are planning to be involved with French technology and scientific research. This course has been particularly useful for UT students in sciences and mathematics who have been able to take advantage of exchange programs and internships in France. In addition to Business French and Scientific French we offer a course on French cinema popular with students in the College of Liberal Arts and in the College of Communications.
Our undergraduate courses also attract students from Music. They are interested acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary for their performance and appreciation of French music. Similarly our courses on French art taught in French draw students from the art department.
In the summer of 1996 we inaugurated our own summer program in France: the UT French Summer Program in Lyon. Students can complete their second year French requirement and come back in the Fall with first hand experience in French language and culture. This experience gives students a strong background and enables them to continue their studies in French. The program has been very successful, with an enrollment of 27 to 30 students every summer. In Summer 2004 the program will be in its eighth year.
The department is part of the Normandy Scholars Program. This program, supported by the College of Liberal Arts, offers courses on World War Two from the American, English, French, and German perspectives. After a semester of courses in Austin, students spend three weeks in Paris and Normandy. The French department supports the French part of the program. A faculty member from French directs the program, teaches the course devoted to France, and helps with the organization in Normandy.
The department seeks to have a program responsive to the pedagogical needs and intellectual interests of the students, and it devises courses according to the current orientations in the fields of pedagogy, literary criticism, and cultural studies. It provides skills, tools, and knowledge which improve the career options of our students and it opens the minds of students to French and francophone language, literature, and culture, and ways of thinking and experiencing the world.
A new course, Issues in today's France, taught in French for upper division students, was inaugurated in Fall 2002.
Graduate program in French Linguistics and Literature
The program trains graduate students for careers in teaching in colleges and universities. It offers a wide range of possibilities. Students can earn an MA and/or a Ph.D. degree in French literature and culture specializing in any century from the Middle-Ages to the present, including Francophone literature. They can acquire interdisciplinary training by taking graduate courses in Anthropology, Art, Drama, Comparative Literature, English, Film, History, Linguistics, the Medieval program, Philosophy, and Women's Studies. Graduate studies and research are enhanced by the excellent libraries the University maintains. A special bibliographer regularly updates the holdings in French and Francophone literature at the University Library. The collection of French manuscripts in the Harry Ransom Center is another resource students can avail themselves of.
Students in Linguistics can earn an MA or a Ph.D. degree by specializing in the various fields of French linguistics. They can earn a degree which combines French language and linguistics with Romance linguistics and with Foreign Language Education. Courses in the Linguistics department and the Sociolinguistics Program, which cuts across French, Spanish, and Anthropology, are also available.
Students in Literature and Linguistics are supported by teaching assistantships and assistant instructorships, and by university fellowships. By assisting professors as TAs and by teaching their own courses as AIs, they receive an extensive training in pedagogy, methodology, and technology. In addition, the University of Texas is nationally known for the elaborate professional training it has devised for its graduate students. It provides mentoring for dissertation writing, job applications, and interviews, and, more generally, career preparation.
Every year, three of our graduate students spend a year in France and three French graduate students come to UT, thanks to our exchange programs with MICEFA in Paris, the University of Picardie in Amiens, and the University Paul Valéry in Montpellier.