Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: French Studies

Page Coordinator: Agnes Widder Last updated: 05-10-2023

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs

Resources in French studies serve the instructional needs of the students of French in the Romance and Classical Studies Department (RCS hereafter) and students, faculty, and other M.S.U. community members interested in the literature, language, history, and culture of France.

The RCS department fosters the study of the human experience as expressed in the languages, literatures, and cultures of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and ancient Greece and Rome. Some courses cross disciplinary boundaries to examine topics in philosophy, history, comparative literature, religion, political theory, and cultural, gender, and diaspora studies. The students become proficient in reading, writing, and speaking French and the other Romance languages. The courses integrate current research in the fields of language acquisition and cultural and literary studies; the students learn to think critically about their world. B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs are offered in French, with courses on literary periods from the Middle Ages to the present,  topics, themes, genres, and language.  At the 400 level RCS has theme, genre, and history-based seminars. RCS also offers a French minor and a teaching certification French minor for students majoring in education.

Faculty and students from art, music, philosophy, history, and theater need and use the materials, as well as those participating in programs in religious studies, Jewish studies, Holocaust studies, diaspora studies, migration studies, women’s studies, Caribbean studies, African studies, and integrative studies in the arts and humanities.

France is a popular destination for study abroad students; there has been an M.S.U. study abroad program in Tours, France, annually for many years, led by RCS faculty. Recently, they also offered a program in Nimes, France, which combined classics and French studies.

Among the history faculty, we have scholars interested in the following: 12th-century Anglo-Norman law, cartularies, higher learning in the Middle Ages, early medieval monastic life, The French Revolution, transitional justice, women in modern Europe, historical demography, French history since 1750, migration in 19th-century France, especially from rural areas to Paris, family and social history since the 16th century, and 20th century Europe in general, in World War II and the Holocaust, re gender, and in film.

Among the French faculty in the RCS department we have scholars interested in the following authors, topics, and periods:

  • Ehsan Ahmed (emeritus) Marc Fumaroli's writing on the works of Michel Foucault; virtues
  • Safoi Babana-Hampton 20th and 21st c. French and Francophone lit; film; cultural studies; theories of narrative; representation and interart dialogue and relationships with questions of gender, cultural memory, and the modern notion of agency
  • Valentina Denzel French and Italian lit from 15th-18th centuries; gender studies; queer studies; narratology; possible world theory; relation between fiction and reality; querelle des femmes
  • Matt Kanefsky French language; French phonetics; language teaching
  • Michael Koppisch (emeritus) 17th-century literature; Moliere’s plays, 17th-century French drama and theater; La Bruyere; Francois de Sales; Jorge Semprun; the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture
  • Elizabeth Tuttle 1870-1940 French Third Republic; interwar France, 1918-1939; WWI and WWII; first wave feminism; anti-imperialism; anti-colonialism; suffragettes and their materials; activists and their materials; material culture; book history; use of tracts, political pamphlets, newspapers, posters, and police files as sources; women writers; literary theory; literature and politics; women writers; Marie Louise Bougle.  Authors of interest:  Colette, Rene Maran, Marguerite Duras, Georges Perec, Andre Gide.
  • Anne Violin-Wigent French linguistics (regional French); second language acquisition and development of pronunciation; history of French language; French gastronomy
  • Jena Whitaker 19th and 20th c. French poetry; translation theory; birth of modernity; intersections of philosophy and lit
  • Aurora Wolfgang 17th and 18th c. novel; women writers, esp. Sevigne, Villedieu, Graffigny, Riccoboni, and Stael; translation; gender politics; fairy tales; salon culture; questions of style

“Bulk” loading of content sub-sets from our electronic resources can be negotiated with vendors such as ProQuest, Adam Matthew, and Gale/Cengage for faculty and students to use for digital projects.  People may also find "data" to use from data repositories such as Registry of Research Data Repositories. The resulting intellectual products can be hosted on our servers for research and teaching.

Grant funded (NEH, etc) research may be subject to data management requirements, including consideration for publishing and sharing of data.  MSU would like to be considered for consultation and retention of such data, if approached by faculty or graduate students.

B. History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases

Our collection favors French literature by and criticism about the canonical authors of France and history of France from the medieval period to the present. Contemporary literary authors are collected to support the curriculum. Our Africana, Asian, and Latin American studies bibliographers collect works by and about French African, Near Eastern, Asian, and Caribbean literary authors and history of these places. The French studies selector collects some French Canadian literature in both French and English and French Canadian history in French.

Murray and Hong Special Collections contains the French Monarchy Collection. It includes over 6,000 volumes and 3,000 pamphlets about the French royal families and the French monarchical institution from the 10th c. to the 19th century, including the art and architecture of the period.

The materials in Main and Africana about French Africa and Francophone literature are a great strength; Africana librarians do the collecting here. The collection receives much use as the African history program has noted faculty. The history of the Francophone Caribbean is an up and coming field at this time on campus. The Latin American studies bibliographer takes the lead in collecting.