Department of French Language and Literature

Established in 1863, the Department of French Language and Literature was formerly a subject major of The Capital House of Foreign Languages (Jing Shi Tong Wen Guan) in Qing Dynasty . In 1902 it was, along with other language disciplines, incorporated into the Imperial Capital University (Jing Shi Da Xue), renamed as “National Peking University” in 1912. Seven years later, the French major was renamed Department of French. In the early 1930s’, Hu Shi, Dean of School of Arts, invited the 28-year-old poet Liang Zongdai to Peking University to be Dean and Professor of the department. The year of 1932 saw the merge of the departments of English, French and German into the Department of Western Languages and Literatures, later renamed the Department of Foreign Literature. In a nationwide education reform effort in 1952, the foreign language departments of Peking University, Tsinghua University, Yenching University and Fu Jen Catholic University became combined into the Department of Western Languages and Literatures, in which the French major was reestablished. At that time, a remarkable number of distinguished professors and scholars were gathered here, including Zeng Juezhi, Wu Dayuan, Wen Jiasi, Guo Lige, Shen Baoji, Luo Dagang, Li Xizu, Chen Zhanyuan, Sheng Chenghua, Chen Dingmin, Qi Xiang, etc. They helped lay solid foundation for the formation and development of the major. Later scholars of the French discipline include Xu Jizeng, Yang Weiyi, Liu Ziqiang, Gui Yufang, Cai Hongbin, Zhang Guanyao, Wang Wenrong, Wang Tingrong and Gu Jiachen, etc. After two generations’ efforts, Department of French Language and Literature has cultivated and kept alive excellent academic and organizational traditions, shaping its own distinctive features and advantages in French language teaching and literature study.
The French Department of Peking University was authorized to offer master’s and doctoral degree respectively in 1956 and 1987, and have educated highly talented students of French over the years. The research of our department mainly covers three directions: French language and language sciences (including stylistics, narratology, history of the French language, semiotics), France literature and French literature (including study of works and writers of France and French-speaking countries, France literary theories and criticism, France cultural and intellectual studies), and literature translation and translatology (including translation theories, translation criticism and translation history).
With the establishment of School of Foreign Languages of Peking University in June 1999, the Department of French Language and Literature was revived. French Department has an excellent faculty of French studies nationwide, consisted of 13 distinguished elder intellectuals and brilliant young scholars (up to April 2010), among whom there are 5 professors (including 4 Ph. D supervisors), 5 associate professors, and 3 lecturers. Among them, ten have a doctor’s degree. We attach equal importance to both academic study and basic language teaching, and have gained productive achievements and good reputations in both fields.
The department has invited two long-term French teachers from Ecole Normale Superieure and ENS Lyon for undergraduate and graduate teaching. We have also maintained close cooperation with several universities in France and French-speaking countries such as Switzerland and Canada, in forms of exchange of scholars or students, and joint doctoral degree programs.
The department enrolls 18 undergraduates, 4-5 graduates, and one or more candidates for doctoral degree each year on average. We currently have 65 undergraduate students, 16 graduate students and 16 candidates for doctoral degree (joint program included).
For non-majors to learn French, the department also offers French courses for secondary major and elective courses for all undergraduate students at PKU.
We have devoted our efforts to comprehensive and systematic language training and education in French literature, culture, history and liberal knowledge for our students. Undergraduate students are supposed to acquire professional capabilities for positions in government offices, research institutions, universities and enterprises. Students who prefer further study are free to pursue master’s or doctoral degree, and some of them may be elected to join international doctoral programs. Excellent students would win the scholarships of the Chinese and French government to go to France for further study.