French and Francophone Studies

The faculty in Romance Studies has long proven a pioneering, international force in research and teaching French and Francophone Studies. For several generations, we’ve been inventing theoretical models for the humanities in cultural history, aesthetics, literature and the sciences, and gender studies.  A survey of criticism today includes landmark contributions by Duke critics -- from key interventions in the debates over Orientalism to questions of cultural memory, from philosophical meditation on "blackness" to neurology and metaphor, from experimental fiction and non-fiction to histories of the French Atlantic world.   Our program is distinguished by thinking in the longue durée.  All our work involves adventuresome, vigorous exchange with scholars and writers from every region in French-speaking Europe, America, and Africa.

The Center for French and Francophone Studies provides a forum for collaborative research.  The FDH initiative [Francophone Digital Humanities] is creating an intellectual space linking faculty and students with newly available archives and other research partners to foster thinking in a digital environment. The Franklin Humanities Institute where colleagues working in French and Francophone Studies play a leading role, is another major resource.  Its innovative labs, and working groups offer many chances for participating in projects and initiatives.

Students benefit from several international frameworks in developing their critical interests.
There are opportunities to participate in an exchange with the ENS – the Ecole normale supérieure [Ulm, Lyon] --  a leading research center, among other institutions in French speaking countries. Together, with doctoral students from ENS, and the Université Diderot-Paris 7, they form a rich international community on campus and abroad.

We are one of the rare programs in the country where French and Francophone Studies continue to innovate through comparative Romance Studies.  It was our doctoral students who helped to design this track, promoting research in pre-modern French and Italian, for example, or contemporary Francophone and Latin American literature.  This comparative approach is enriched by work in History, Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Cultural Anthropology, as well as other disciplines.   We welcome applications from students interested in the full inventive range of fields that we represent.  Contact with individual faculty members is strongly recommended.