About Us

The University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Program in French and Francophone Studies offers a five-year Ph.D. program.  All students admitted to the program are awarded full financial support through the University's Benjamin Franklin Fellowships, including summer funding.  The overarching goal of the program is to train students both for productive scholarship and for effective college or university teaching. We have an outstanding faculty committed to scholarly excellence and we have an impressive record in placing candidates on the job market.

In addition to our faculty having interest in a broad range of centuries, individual expertise include musicology, popular culture, film noir, fashion, travel writing, poetry, anthropology, gender, postcolonial studies, cultural history, narratology, and history of the book. As a result of these interests, students have been able to work on creative dissertation topics. For titles of dissertations recently defended and in progress, click here.


Interdisciplinary Study

Interdisciplinary study is encouraged through participation in the wide range of seminars, lectures, and colloquia sponsored by the various Graduate Groups and affiliated research institutes and centers at Penn. Students may complement their studies with up to four courses outside the French section by earning a certificate in addition to the Ph.D. Certificate programs are available in the areas of Women and Gender  Studies, Cinema Studies, African Studies, and Urban Studies. Earning a certificate indicates a specialty in one of the aforementioned areas, but is not required as part of the student's course of study.

Graduate students in French also participate in The Penn Humanities Forum which also provides a venue for doctoral students to interact with colleagues from across the disciplines.

In addition to being within a 100 mile radius to more than a dozen  institutions (such as Temple, Drexel, Haverford, Swathmore, Bryn Mawr, Princeton, Rutgers, Columbia, New York University, City University of New York, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and the University of Delaware), The University of Pennsylvania enjoys reciprocal agreements with several other nearby institutions including Princeton and Columbia which allow students to complete a number of courses there while enrolled in a graduate program at Penn. Locally, the University's location in Philadelphia provides easy access to the social and cultural resources of a dynamic and affordable metropolitan center.


Faculty expertise on campus with French-related interests:

Cheikh Babou, Department of History

David S. Barnes, Department of History and Sociology of Science

Karen Redrobe (formerly Beckman), Department of the History of Art

Warren Breckman, Department of History

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Department of English

Timothy Corrigan, Cinema Studies

Alan Charles Kors, Department of History

John Tresch, Department of History and Sociology of Science


French Italian and Germanic Graduate Society

The French Italian and Germanic Graduate Society is a student-run organization that represents graduate students in French and Italian. FIGS plans monthly meetings on topics of shared professional and academic interest, and organizes the annual FIGGS Conference in the spring semester. Recent conference titles include "Dis/Indentifications and Orientations" (2010), "Written in Blood" (2011), “Altered States" (2012), "Silence . . . Silenzio" (2013), "No Man's Land" (2014), and "Rewriting" (2015), "Bitterness" (2016), "War of the Wor(l)ds" (2018), "Secrets" (2019) and "Apocalyptic Landscapes" (2020).

For more information contact Juliette Bellacosa (jbellaco@sas.upenn.edu) or Camille Bouillon (bouillon@sas.upenn.edu).  You can find our web site here:  http://upennfrenchitalian.weebly.com/


Student Activities

FIGS Conference

Given that the 2020 conference was canceled because of COVID-19, the 2020 theme of "Apocalyptic Landscapes", exploring the influences of the apocalyptic landscape on Italian and French culture, literature, cinema and art will be the theme for 2021. The keynote speaker will be Associate Professor of Cinema & Media Studies and French, Codruţa Morari at Wellesley College. Professor Morari’s current research involves a focus on the role of media ecologies, and the status of film industries in the age of climate change.

French Studies Seminar Series

Designed by graduate students, the French Studies Seminars provide a format in which students and faculty can meet to discuss their academic work and the latest scholarship in the field of French studies. Every year, two graduate students from the French department at the University of Pennsylvania invite both scholars from Penn and other institutions to present their work to the graduate students, faculty, and other individuals who share an interest in French and Francophone culture.  The current seminars grew out of the French Cultural Studies seminar created in 1993 by Drs. Joan De Jean and Lynn Hunt.


Penn Career Services makes every effort to assist students in finding employment and offers a range of services geared toward both academic and non-academic career options.

The Department offers guided preparation for students' participation in the academic job market. Students receive advice and feedback on their job application materials (CVs, cover letters, teaching statements, research statements, etc.) and attend mock interviews for preparation of every step of candidacy. Recent graduates of our program have fared extremely well on the job market, accepting tenure-track positions at some of the best colleges and universities around the country, including Dartmouth College, George Washington University, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Virginia, University of Indiana, Temple University, and Washington University in St. Louis. For a more comprehensive list, click here.


Library Resources

The Van Pelt Library, the University's central humanities research collection, is especially rich in the Romance languages areas, with outstanding collections of rare books and manuscripts.  The French literature collection is strong in all periods, and the Library has recently paid special attention to the Francophone literatures of Africa, the West Indies, and Canada. 


Study Abroad and Exchange Programs

Graduate students in French have the opportunity to spend a year of the program abroad by participating in Department sponsored student teaching exchange programs with the Universities of Paris VII (Charles V, Jussieu), Paris X (Nanterre), and Geneva. Students also have additional opportunities to conduct extensive research on their dissertations while aboard and still receive their fellowships. In addition, students may use their summer funding to travel abroad or to stay local to conduct research. For additional information, click here.


Department Facilities

The Department of Francophone, Italian and Germanic Studies (FIGS) occupies the fifth floor of Williams Hall, with two seminar rooms for Romance Languages graduate classes, a graduate lounge, a computer lab, and the Cherpack Conference and Seminar Room where lectures and colloquia sponsored by the Department are held.


For Further Information

Graduate Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania 
514 Williams Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-630
Telephone: (215) 898-1980
Fax: (215) 898-0933