The three Bs – beret, bike and baguette – do people still believe this quaint view of France?
Contrary to popular assumption, France is a culture of plurality and diversity, much like the United States. It is not a place where one French language, one set of cultural values and beliefs are practiced uniformly. Throughout its history, French culture has been shaped by its various populations, both indigenous and immigrant, from the troubadours of the south to the rappers born to more recent immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Learning the French language therefore provides us with an opening onto a rich historical landscape of cultural and linguistic multiplicity and complexity.
The undergraduate program of Northwestern’s French department reflects this diversity through a multidisciplinary approach, offering courses, both in English and French, in literature, cinema, theater, as well as philosophy, literary theory and history, ranging from the Medieval period to contemporary French and Francophone cultures. Beginner or advanced, students have a wide choice of language courses, including career-specific business French. In a world where cultures interact with much more frequency and intensity, learning French, a language spoken by millions in the Americas, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, is an indispensable asset for those interested in careers as varied as business, global health, media and tourism. Many students of French double major, a choice that increases their desirability in the job market and diversifies their skills.
Northwestern offers a major and a minor in French as well as opportunities for studying in France and several countries in Africa on programs varying in length from a summer to one academic year. These programs together with Northwestern’s courses allow students to develop superior skills not only in the language but also in critical thinking and cultural fluency.