[Return to Table of Contents]

University Libraries, University at Albany, SUNY Need Help? Search this Site Site Index
Home Catalog Database Finder Journals

French Studies

Jesus Alonso-Regalado, Bibliographer

I. General Purpose

French Studies programs are offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The University Libraries' collection supports curricular and research needs of the faculty and students in French Studies.

Programs of French Studies:

The French Studies Program offers B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees as well as a combined B.A./M.A and a combined B.A./M.B.A. The Ph.D. in French emphasizes cultural studies in addition to language and literature and embraces Francophone regions beyond France. The Ph.D. and M.A. programs combine the three core areas of French Studies: society and culture, language and linguistics, and literature and the arts.

The undergraduate major in French Studies focuses on language, literature, and history while encouraging interdisciplinary and area studies. The program offers courses about the Caribbean (Haiti, in particular), Africa, and Canada. Film studies courses examine film as both a cultural and an artistic creation. All core courses in the major are taught in French. Some courses (e.g. perspectives on the French world, French literature, French culture, French cinema, methods and issues in teaching French, and francophone cultures in the New World and in developing countries) are offered in English.

Scope of Coursework:

Courses are offered in language and linguistics, literature, society and civilization, cinema, and business French. These subject areas cover France and the francophone world. Within the above areas of interest, the courses focus on:

  1. Language and linguistics. Oral and written French, grammar, composition, stylistics, philology, linguistics (emphasis on morphology and syntax), French speech styles, and phonetics.
  2. Literature. Literary works of all genres from the Middle Ages to the present, literary history, literary theory, literary analysis and criticism, and literary research methods.
  3. Society and Culture (includes both contemporary and historical perspectives). Social sciences, fine arts, philosophy, religion, cinema, the press, and mass media, as well as francophone cultures of France, North America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
  4. Business French for France and Quebec. Economic and social institutions of France and francophone countries, business vocabulary, business correspondence, business operations, and administrative procedures.

Faculty Research Interests:

Faculty research focuses on film theory, poetry and patronage (particularly by women), Renaissance chansons, the texts and illustrations of the medieval book of Hours, childhood as depicted in French cinema and literature, francophone Africa, French-Canadian and Franco-American literature, French-Canadian and Franco-American history, French-Canadian and Franco-American linguistics, history of printing in 15th-century Paris, the relations between literature and the other arts, l'Abbé Grégoire and his defense of African slaves in the early 19th century, French-American relations, a biography of David Warden (US Consul in Paris under Napoleon's reign), French colonial history in the 18th and 19th centuries, impact of the Haitian Revolution in France, French dialectology and sociolinguistics, language maintenance and shift, religious issues in France, and the field of Portuguese studies. Additional literary research interests include comparative literature, the colonial and post-colonial literature written in French from the Caribbean and West Africa, medieval and Renaissance literature, 19th and 20th century literature and intellectual history, modernism as a theoretical and historical problem, and art and ideology in the French Romantic period.

II. Subject and Language Modifiers

Languages: Works in French are of primary importance. Materials in Old French and Provencal are collected selectively. Critical, historical, and biographical works are selected regularly in both French and English and occasionally in other western European languages. Creative works are not usually collected in languages other than French, however, English translations of literary works related to the courses given in English are selectively purchased.

Geographical Areas: Principally France, francophone Canada, francophone Africa, and francophone areas of the Caribbean, but other francophone literary and cultural materials from the Americas, Europe, and elsewhere are collected selectively.

Chronological Periods: For literature, the time span covers the Middle Ages through the present. For language and culture, there are no chronological limits. For business and commercial French, the emphasis is on contemporary conditions and practices.

III. Description of Materials Collected

Types of Materials Collected:The Libraries collect monographs (including monographic series), reference materials, periodicals (including journals, magazines, and newspapers), proceedings of conferences, and multimedia material for which the Library maintains hardware (including microforms, CD-ROMs, videocassettes, DVDs, computer software, and sound recordings).

Electronic resources available from the World Wide Web are collected and offered by way of the University Libraries home page. A subject page of relevant Internet resources is maintained and regularly augmented by the French Bibliographer. This collection includes electronic texts, journals, and newspapers; reference sources; indexing and abstracting services; and Web sites of various kinds related to the study of French and francophone language, literature, and culture.

The Libraries do not usually collect school or college textbooks, materials available through other specific formal resource sharing agreements, collections of previously published articles when the originals are owned by the Libraries, translations from or into French (see above for exceptions), or audio and video formats for which the Libraries do not have playback equipment. Books offering popular treatments, dissertations from universities other than the University at Albany, heavily illustrated materials, and certain formats (including loose-leaf materials and newsletters) are ordinarily excluded, although some of the above types of materials may be occasionally acquired.

In the area of French culture there is considerable overlap in the social sciences and in the humanities; in the areas of French language and literature there is some overlap. Because of the broad scope of the programs in French Studies, materials selected for many areas of the humanities and social sciences (including art, African studies, business, Canadian studies, Caribbean studies, education, Haitian studies, history, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, and religion) are useful for the faculty and students of French Studies. The French Studies Bibliographer selects most of the materials on French history written in French, English language materials on French history are selected principally by the History Bibliographer.

IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]

Collecting levels (i.e. goals for collection development) as defined by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and the Library of Congress range from 0 (out of scope) to 5 (all significant works of recorded knowledge). In most call number ranges of the Library of Congress classifications of PC (French language) and PQ (French literature), the aim of this library is to collect at levels 3 or 4. Level 3 denotes collection activity at the Advanced Study or Instructional Support Level (adequate to support undergraduate and master's degree programs), and level 4 denotes collection at the Research Level (collection activity that supports doctoral and other original research). The richest area is PQ 1-3999, French literature, which is a level 4 collection in most call number ranges. Materials on modern European history, principally in English, are collected at the Advanced Instructional Support Level (3) for programs offered by the History Department. These materials are supplemented by French language materials on French history.

V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing

In addition to the University Libraries' own holdings, the Libraries make outside resources available to the students and faculty of French Studies. This is done through membership in library consortia that were established to facilitate sharing of various resources, interlibrary loan arrangements, resource sharing agreements, and electronic access.

Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing Agreements: The four SUNY University Centers (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) along with Syracuse University have devised Empire Express for facilitating interlibrary loans among the five institutions. University at Albany students and faculty also have on-site access and borrowing privileges in selected member libraries of the Capital District Library Council as well as at the New York State Library.

Electronic Access to Information and Resources: The Libraries purchase relevant electronic services, such as the Modern Language Association International Bibliography and Repère, and make them available online for University at Albany students and faculty. Interactive media packages with audio and video components covering subjects such as French language, history, and art are also selectively purchased. Additional information needs are satisfied via the Internet electronic communication links on the Libraries' Web site. The libraries also purchase full text electronic versions of useful journals in the humanities and social sciences.

VI. Notes

The selector responsible for this collection is the Bibliographer for French Studies.

Approval Plans and Standing Orders: Some core materials to support the programs of French Studies are acquired through three approval plans. Aux Amateurs de Livres International in Paris provides French language materials other than those published in Canada, Blackwell North America provides English language materials from the U.S. and the UK, and Coutt's Library Service provides relevant Canadian publications in French and in English. Subject profiles and non-subject parameters are employed as selection criteria for these plans. Specific names of contemporary authors and recipients of prestigious literary prizes have been added to the customary subject rubrics in the French language profile.

Though these plans provide many of the basic materials needed for the French Studies programs, titles requested by faculty members and titles selected by the French Studies Bibliographer from the Livres du Mois and other sources are also ordered to maintain necessary coverage.

Standing orders and memberships supplement the above means of acquisition in order to obtain serial publications and parts of sets as soon as they are published. The institution of new standing orders was curtailed in the 1980's and 1990's and some of the existing standing orders were cut during this period, but various materials are still received this way. For example, the Libraries have standing orders for the Bibliothèque de la Pléïade, Archives des lettres modernes, Bibliographie du Québec, and Bibliographie internationale de l'humanisme et de la renaissance.

In the 1980's and 1990's it was not possible to continue to build the collections at the same level as had been possible in the 1960's and 1970's because of fiscal restrictions, cutbacks on acquisitions, and escalating costs for library materials that have often exceeded the rate of overall monetary inflation. Because of these fiscal conditions, the institution of new subscriptions to periodicals in traditional print format has been rare since 1980. Additionally, subscriptions started in the 1970's and earlier were cut back in the 1980's and 1990's. The University Libraries have found and continue to seek various ways to overcome the problems posed by this situation. Recently, many additional journals have been made available in electronic format via the Internet. The combination of this capability with various resource sharing arrangements enables the Libraries to provide almost all of the research materials sought by faculty and students in this department.

Selection Responsibilities for Overlapping Subject Areas:

  1. Language and Linguistics. The French Studies Bibliographer selects linguistics materials written in French and selected English language materials pertaining to French linguistics to supplement the selections of the Linguistics Bibliographer. The French Studies Bibliographer suggests purchases of dictionaries and other monolingual and bilingual reference works to the Reference Bibliographer. The latter selects most of the English language reference materials, though the French Studies Bibliographer may make suggestions for English language acquisitions as well.

  2. Literature. Comparative literary studies. If written in French and the topic is appropriate, works are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer. If written in English, a title may be selected by the French Studies Bibliographer or another bibliographer, depending on the emphasis, the predominant language or authors covered, or other relevant factors.
  3. Translations into English. English language translations are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer when requested by departmental faculty. Additional English language translations of literary or other works may be selected by the French Studies Bibliographer on a case by case basis.

    Because of funding patterns, translations of literary works originally written in French that are needed for courses other than those in French Studies are normally purchased by the bibliographers responsible for those other programs. They are selectively purchased by the French Studies Bibliographer when deemed to be important for the curricular and research needs of French Studies faculty and students.

    French Literary History, Criticism, and Biography. French language and English language works are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer. Works in other languages are not usually collected, but may be acquired selectively depending on the significance of the individual work for literary scholarship.

    The Libraries purchase French and other francophone literary works requested by faculty members. Contemporary literary works by French nationals that are not provided by approval plans, standing orders, or gifts are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer as necessary. At present, the developing emphasis on the literature of authors from francophone areas other than continental France has resulted in increased intensity in collecting of the works of African, Haitian, and Canadian francophone authors.

  4. History. In general, French language materials are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer and English language materials are selected by the History Bibliographer. Exceptions may occur when materials that are relevant for the programs in French Studies are not of sufficient importance to the History programs. In that case, the English language selections are made by the French Studies Bibliographer.

  5. Social Sciences, including Business and Education. As a rule, French language materials are selected by the French Studies Bibliographer and English language materials are selected by the appropriate bibliographers in the other social sciences. Exceptions are handled on a title by title basis.

A general humanities fund and a general social sciences fund receive small allocations for the purchase of materials that do not fit specific collection policy criteria. There are endowed funds, such as the Peter C. and Marjorie A. Matson Benedict Fund, which may be available for supplementary or special purchases.

The Interactive Media Center is separately funded. Bibliographers' and faculty members' requests for non-interactive media are usually funded through program-based annual allocations.

Marjorie A. Benedict, Bibliographer
Revised September 2004

[Return to Table of Contents]