The French program in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures is active and dynamic in its curricular and co-curricular efforts. The major in French is comprised of literature as well as skills courses including Phonetics, Translation, Conference Interpreting, and Advanced Grammar & Composition. The French program has a remarkably high rate of retention from mandatory to voluntary study in the language and about 90% of French majors participate in a semester of study abroad in sites that can include Quebec, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, and numerous cities in France itself. Students choosing a major in French find a welcoming environment in which they work closely and collaboratively with the major’s faculty in class as well as in more informal and social settings.
In the fall of the student’s freshman year, the student begins the program in French when they are placed according to their high school records in the appropriate level of instruction. Most begin in Intermediate French, a course designed collaboratively and taught by all French faculty members each fall. Intermediate French introduces students to media, pop culture, and film from France and the francophone world while pushing students to improve their skills in oral as well as written expression. Advanced French, generally taken in the second year, provides students a chance to engage in community-based, service learning in local schools while they study language and culture. From there, students go on to study language, literature, culture, and film from an array of thematic and genre-based courses.
Senior faculty includes Caroline Cunningham and Dennis Wiseman, chair. Dr. Cunningham teaches theatre, poetry, and francophone studies. In 2010, Dr. Cunningham was the recipient of a South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching award. Dr. Wiseman teaches novel, film, and non-fiction literature and has co-taught the Senior Capstone Seminar for the major in Intercultural Studies for Business. In the fall 2007, Dr. Wiseman was awarded an endowed chair as the Reeves Family Professor of French. He also serves the college as the Dean for the Center for Innovation and Learning, as Director for Institutional Effectiveness and as the faculty advisor to the college Honor Council.
Associate professor Catherine Schmitz, coordinator for French, teaches language and literature courses, with an emphasis on theater, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and French culture. Her research focuses on travel literature and women's theater. She sponsors the Table Française and the French Club. In the spring of 2008, Dr. Schmitz collaborated with Bevin Herrmann-Bell (a 2008 graduate in French and Intercultural Studies) as Ms. Herrmann-Bell won first prize in the annual French writing competition sponsored by the French Consulate of the Southeast in Atlanta. Ms. Herrmann-Bell’s trophies included a citation as well as an all-expense paid trip to France.