Upcoming Events

French Table

Beginning September 7, 2022, and Wednesdays thereafter from 6:00-7:30 PM, French Table will meet on the Mezzanine (2nd floor) in Valentine Dining Hall. Join your French Language Assistants for casual conversation in French. French speakers of all levels are welcome!

French Karaoke

TBD in the Powerhouse

Join your French Language Assistants and French House Residents for a night of fun and music! Come sing your favorite French song, or listen to your friend's performance! We'll have bilingual duet as well. Perrier, the French sparkling water, will be provided for the singers, but there will be donuts for everyone. À bientôt!

French Film Screenings

The French Language Assistants will be hosting movie nights throughout the year. Students currently enrolled in French classes will be notified by email in advance of these screenings.

French Department Film Screening: Madan Sara

The Department of French is pleased to screen the film Madan Sara (Street Team Productions/Konbit Productions). The film will be shown in Stirn Auditorium in the Mead Art Museum (Mead Art 115) on Friday, March 31, 2023. The event will take place between 3:15  and 5:00 PM. There will be a short talk and a Q&A after the screening. All are welcome. Jointly presented by the Department of French at Amherst College and the Haiti Committee at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.

From the film’s website:

The women known as Madan Sara in Haiti work tirelessly to buy, distribute, and sell food and other essentials in markets through the country. Despite the obstacles faced by the women working in a sector that lacks investment, infrastructure and state assistance, the Madan Sara continue to be one of the most critical parts of the Haitian economy and of who we are as a country.

The Madan Sara documentary tells the stories of these indefatigable women who work at the margins to make Haiti’s economy run. Despite facing intense hardship and social stigma, the hard work of the Madan Sara puts their children through school, houses their families, and helps to ensure a better life for generations to come. This film amplifies the calls of the Madan Sara as they speak directly to society to share their dreams for a more just Haiti.


"Haiti and the Fictions of History"
The Amherst College French Department welcomes Prof. Kaiama Glover (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French and African Studies at Barnard College) for its biannual lecture in Honor of Prof. Emerita Leah Hewitt, April 13th, 2022, at 4:30pm at the Russian Center (Webster Hall 202). All are welcome.
Prof. Kaiama Glover will offer a broad comparative meditation on modes of storytelling Haiti's past, specifically in the wake of increased mainstream attention to that history on such platforms as the New York Times ("Haiti: The Ransom Project") and HBO (Raoul Peck's Exterminate All the Brutes). Thinking through both Edouard Glissant's engagement with histories from an Antillean perspective and Saidiya Hartman's fraught encounters with The Archive, Prof. Glover will consider the prose fiction works of three contemporary Haitian women writers – Evelyne Trouillot, Edwidge Danticat, and Myriam Chancy – as historiographic interventions of a particular order.

Senior Capstone Projects Showcase

The Department of French will be holding its annual Senior Capstone Projects Showcase on Friday, April 21, 2023. The student presentations will be in Barrett Hall Room 102 at 4:00 PM. There will be a reception following the presentations in the Barret Hall Language Library (202).

All students with an interest in French are invited to attend. Those who may have interest in writing a thesis for the department are encouraged to attend.

Past Lectures

“Perspectives on Race and Blackness in the Francophone World”

Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 4:00 PM, via Zoom

After a year-long hiatus, we were delighted to resume our annual lecture series in honor of our colleagues, Professor Emerita Leah Hewitt and Professor Emeritus Jay Caplan. This year’s event, “Perspectives on Race and Blackness in the Francophone World,” was held on Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 4:00 pm EST.

Professors Lydie Moudileno (Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of French and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California Dornsife) and Andrew S. Curran (William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Wesleyan University)  delivered talks that brought the modern and the early modern periods into conversation.

Sponsored by: The Georges S. Lurcy Lecture Fund, the Turgeon Lecture Fund, and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry


“We All Wear the Crown: Longing for African Royalty in the Diasporic Imagination” (Prof. Moudileno)

This talk revisited a trope most notably deployed in late seventeenth and eighteenth century slave narratives and abolitionist literature: The “Royal African.” Tracking new iterations of this figure in post-1990s Francophone Caribbean fiction as well as in American popular culture, it considered some of the ways in which forms of African nobility and claims to royal genealogies continue to seed and reinvent transnational discourses of blackness, modernity, and distinction.

“The Bordeaux Academy of Sciences and the Great Race contest of 1741” (Prof. Curran)

In August of 1739, Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences publicized a “prize puzzle” in Europe’s best-known scientific journal. The subject was a riddle that had long perplexed Europeans: “what is the cause of the Sub-Saharan Africans’ peculiar hair texture and dark skin?” While this query theoretically limited itself to discussion of African physical features, what really preoccupied the Academy were three hidden questions: the first two were who is Black? and why? The third was an even bigger concern, namely, what did being black signify? In this talk, Curran explained both the genesis of this competition and its wider relationship to the Enlightenment quest to define the human species.