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French Studies (Language, Literature and Culture)

Collection Area

French Language and Literature

General Purpose

The French language and literature collection supports the instructional and research needs and personal interests of Dartmouth College undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, as well as other users within and beyond the college community. This policy seeks primarily to support the curriculum of the French and Italian Department providing coverage of French language, literature, linguistics and civilization, semiotics, Francophone Studies and literary theory and criticism as applied to this literature. However, the library's collections in the previously mentioned areas also support interdisciplinary and interdepartamental programs including Caribbean Studies, Comparative Literature, Women's Studies, African and African American Studies, Liberal Studies, Asian and Middle-Eastern Studies and Linguistics. Moreover materials collected under the framework of this policy, support some courses and faculty research in the departments of History, Government, Geography, Philosophy, Film Studies and Drama.

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Until 1979, French and Italian together with Spanish and Portuguese made up the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, at that time one of the largest departments on campus. Due to the high number of students taking French (around 2.000 students per year in 1978) and the increasing interest in other languages such as Spanish, Italian, etc., the faculty of Romance Languages submitted, in May of 1979, a recommendation to the Dartmouth Arts and Sciences faculty for the creation of two separate Departments. That recommendation was approved, and in the summer of 1979 French and Italian came into existence as a separate department in the Humanities Division of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Since then, the new department has completely revised the French curriculum, adapting the program to changes in College-wide requirement and the evolution of the field. By the 90’s, the French Department had become one of the largest foreign literature departments relative to an undergraduate population in the United States.

* Information taken from the French and Italian Department 1995 Report

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Dartmouth College Program

The Department of French and Italian is a part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Dartmouth College has recognized the important role that French Studies plays in the College commitment to providing a liberal arts education. Thus the programs in French "…(are) designed for students interested in languages, literature, and cultural; social; political and economic issues in France (and) in Francophone countries. Courses in French ( ) allow students to begin to know and understand French (culture)and their roles in today's unified Europe. The variety of departmental offerings complements the diversity of students' interests and reflect the spectrum of research fields among French faculty".(*)

The curriculum of the Department of French and Italian presently offers 84 courses in French. It includes introductory and advanced language courses (7), courses on different periods of French literature, literary criticism and cultural studies (66); courses on performing arts (4), feminism (3), and Francophone literature (4). This Department offers four types of programs to students (a major in French, a major in Romance Languages, a modified major, and a minor) and two programs abroad (Bloys/Lyon and Paris/Tolouse).

Masters students pursuing a Master of Arts Liberal Program or a Master of Arts Program in Comparative Literature are required to take masters courses organized in the French Department. Students pursuing a Major or a Minor in Caribbean Studies, Women Studies, African Studies or Asian Studies may be required to take specific courses offered by the department as part of their programs.

In the department there are 26 French faculty members (13 professors and associate professors, 4 assistant professors, 3 senior lecturers and lecturers, 5 visiting faculty and 1 emeritus faculty). Typically the advanced courses center around the specializations of the faculty covering a broad spectrum of areas. Since the beginning of the 90's, the main and diverse tendencies in New Historicism studies and especially in the new comparative cultural studies ("transdiciplinary" studies according to the most current French philosophy) are affecting all literary studies. French literary studies is not the exception to this rule and it is becoming a more interdisciplinary field. New faculty arrive to Dartmouth who work in areas beyond literature. Today Film, Sociology, Anthropology, cultural history, Feminism, etc. are fields which are completely interrelated in the intellectual activity of most French faculty members.

(*) Taken from the French Department homepage statement.

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General Subject Boundaries

French language and literature materials fall into the PC, PM, and PQ classes of the Library of Congress. Pre-1964 acquisitions are in the 840s of the Dewey Decimal System. General literary theory and criticism are classed in PN. Relevant materials are also found in the appropriate sections of history, philosophy, women's studies, art, and bibliography.

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Besides French language materials originating from France, materials in Francophone languages such as Creole and Canadian French are selectively acquired. Secondary works of history and criticism are collected principally in English but also in other western European languages including German, Italian and Spanish. English language translations and critical editions of major literary works and works by many classical and contemporary authors are acquired.

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Geographic Areas

While the overwhelming output of literature is produced in France, the collection does not exclude other Francophone cultures beyond France. The library actively collects French material published in or about the French-speaking societies of French America [Louisiana], Canada [primarily Quebec], the Caribbean [French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique], northwest Africa or Maghreb [Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia], Sub-Saharan Africa or Black Africa [Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Congo, among others], and Belgium, Switzerland, and Vietnam.

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Types Of Material Collected

The collection consists of monographs, serials, a few select French language newspapers, and reference sources including the major French language encyclopedias, dictionaries, periodical indexes, and bibliographies. Performing arts materials in the French language will be acquired more actively (sound recordings, films, documentary, etc. in tapes, videorecording, DVD, CD-ROM, etc.) when the new library is completed, and in seeking to support the French Department curriculum.

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Format Of Materials Collected

The library acquires materials in all formats with no exceptions. Although most of the materials are in a printed format (monographs and serials), microfilm is also acquired when necessary--especially for pre-twentieth century publications. Materials in more innovative formats such as laser disc, DVD, etc., are also acquired taking first into consideration their technical compatibility with the College systems. The library also seeks to subscribe (and disseminate among its clientele) commercial or non-commercial materials accessed through Internet, that facilitate access to full text electronic monographs and/or serials related to the areas covered by this policy. (see Other Resources Available).

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Special Collections and Manuscripts

More than 2000 items of French literature and culture written in the French language are located in Special Collections, covering a period that ranges from the 15th to the 20th centuries (about 300 of them are from before the 17th century ). Among the unique French language and literature materials housed in Special Collections are some unpublished manuscripts of Samuel Beckett; the papers of Professor Francois Denoeu, author/lexicographer and Dartmouth faculty member from 1929-1963; the records of Cercle Francais, Dartmouth's FrenchClub from 1909-1954; and a collection of 20th-century Parisian theater posters.

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Other Resources Available

The DCIS Navigator is the in-house gateway where the library organizes and provides access to a wide variety of resources in the French language, including general indexes such as the MLA Bibliography, the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (more than 50 newspapers in French), the Iter-Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, etc.; full text databases such as Lexis Nexis (20 newspapers in French) or the ARTFL [American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language] (access electronically to more than 3,000 monographs in French), etc.

In the near future, the library aims to develop an electronic subject guide to other resources found on the Internet of interest principally to the French and Italian Department, including links to areas of study covered by this policy.

Other Collection Policies of Interest

Areas of study in French covered by the following Collection Policies are of some interest to the curriculum of the French and Italian Department specifically, and to Dartmouth College as a whole.

Anthropology | Fine Arts | History | Linguistics | Philosophy | Performing Arts | Women's and Gender Studies |

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Revision History

June 1982 [Ralph Cryesky]

February 1994 [Robert D. Jaccaud]
November 1999 (Miguel Valladares)

LC Class

PC 2001 - 3761 French language
PM 7851-7854 Creole language
PQ 1 - 3899 French Literature, history and criticism.
3989.2 - 3919 French Literature: Canada
3920 - 3999 French Literature: Caribbean, Africa, Asia, etc.


 Miguel A. Valladares

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Last Updated: 8/5/16