French and Francophone

France view


Welcome to the French and Francophone Studies graduate program.

We have updated this page to reflect the current situation in 2020-2021, which finds us continuing to teach and learn online and living with a low-density campus.

In this message to prospective and current students, colleagues, and whoever is interested, we, faculty members in the French and Francophone section, want to express our faith in the value of our disciplines and fields, and our hope in their future. What we teach this semester has not lost any relevance: on the contrary, through French and Francophone language, literatures, arts, and cultures, we address, in our zoom classes, the relation between individuals and communities, humans and the world, the aesthetic and the political, in historically situated contexts that allow for meaningful comparisons across national, spatial and temporal boundaries.

Despite the pandemic, we still have access online to many of the abundant resources of Harvard University that are physically unavailable right now. Our colleagues, librarians, archivists and curators are eager to help our students and us continuing research and learning from the collections under their keep. We look forward to the day when our libraries, archives and museums re-open to the public, but we are grateful for the tremendous efforts of the Harvard Libraries and Harvard Museums that allow us to keep going.

We cannot meet physically at the countless events that make a normal Harvard academic calendar cornucopic: conferences, panels, workshops, performances, conversations, seminars, etc. We continue to meet distantly but intensely in a wealth of forums that include the Mahindra Humanities Center (where the section leads seminars on France and the World, the Renaissance, and Cartography), the Climate Conversation series, the Weatherhead Center, the Center for European Studies, the Harvard Film Archive, the Radcliffe Institute, the Center for Early Modern History, and so forth. While we are confined in our movements, we are not confined in our thought and in our capacity to think together.

This moment in time has allowed us to reimagine the teaching of French and francophone language, cultures, and literatures with a new vision. We can create more language-exchange opportunities with native French speakers and provide opportunities for cultural exchange and discussion with prominent scholars, artists, and professionals from locations across the world. Through these experiences, we are finding ways in which some of our emerging online communities may be an asset rather than a deficit --a place where students may find meaningful ways to engage with francophone communities and their own education. With this expansion of classroom boundaries and creative use of both synchronous and asynchronous time, assignments, and discussions, we are finding new opportunities for social and scholarly connections.

We eagerly anticipate returning to our two floors (fourth and fifth) in Boylston Hall, our classrooms, offices, our favorite places on campus to meet old and new colleagues, students and friends. We look forward to finding again the many cafes, restaurants, and bookstores around Harvard Square where campus life strives. We recognize more than ever that academic and intellectual life begins with encounter, lively dialogue and spirited exchange. With fresh and new encounters in mind, we pursue our mission with resilience, energy and compassion. We believe that the energy and vitality with which we continue to gather in a time of Covid speaks volumes to the passion and community of our section. 



The French Section



To see our program requirements, see the GSAS Policies.

Image: Plan de l’exposition universelle de 1878 avec ses annexes. Paris: Imp. lith. F. Appel, 1878 (detail). MAP-LC G5834.P3:2E9 1878.A6, Harvard Map Collection, Harvard University.