While providing an intensive training in French and / or Italian literary history, theory, and criticism, the Department has long been a leader in connecting the literary to broader issues in philosophy, anthropology, history of science, and cultural history. This commitment to interdisciplinary work can be seen in the profiles of our faculty, whose training and teaching encompass psychology, anthropology, art history, continental philosophy, and analytic philosophy along with their literary expertise. It can also be seen in the variety of programs run by or in conjunction with the Department: a new Program in Literature and Philosophy; the France-Stanford Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies; the French Cultural Studies Workshop; the Philosophical Reading Group; and numerous ad hoc workshops on issues in epistemology and interdisciplinary research. This long tradition of interrogating the relationship between literature and other cultural domains gives French and Italian at Stanford a particularly sharp perspective on the importance of literary studies today.
The Department of French and Italian offers students the opportunity to pursue course work at all levels in the languages, cultures, literatures, and intellectual histories of the French and Italian traditions. Whether interested in French and Francophone studies, Italian studies, or in both, students will find a broad range of courses covering language acquisition and refinement, literary history and criticism, cultural history and theory, continental philosophy, and romance linguistics.
The Department's course offerings reflect a conscious effort to accommodate the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, both majors and non-majors. The undergraduate majors in French or Italian provide a comprehensive study of their respective literatures and cultures, establishing a solid basis for potential further study in literature or history. At the graduate level, a terminal M.A. and a Ph.D. (with various possible minors and combined degrees) are offered. In addition, the Department offers a minor in French or Italian for both undergraduate and graduate students. The curriculum is also designed to benefit students with varying interests and levels of language proficiency. Students interested in international relations, European history and literature, film studies, philosophy, and postcolonial studies will find relevant courses within the Department's offerings.
In addition to its courses, the Department seeks to promote cultural understanding in a number of more global ways. It oversees the undergraduate residences "La Maison Française" and "La Casa Italiana," which provide an immersion into the experience of French and Italian culture; students of all majors live together in an environment focused on cultural events and language enhancement. The Department also invites frequent guest lecturers in French and Italian studies throughout the academic year, maintaining a regular schedule of extracurricular events. For students interested in study abroad, the Department plays an important role in the Overseas Studies Program in Paris and Florence. These programs, open to all students who complete the required language preparation, extend the educational spectrum well beyond textbooks and classrooms, and provide students with invaluable cultural and life experience.
African and African American Studies
While Comparative Literature seeks to prepare its students for reading and research in the languages and histories of different societies and periods, it is also dedicated to their critical and cultural analysis.