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Berkeley: Departments and Programs

Film Studies Program
There is no history currently available for this program.

Folklore Program
There is no history currently available for this program.

See Colleges and Schools, School of Forestry.

The Department of French, established in July, 1919, in anticipation of increased enrollment following World War I, took over the instruction in French previously under the Department of Romanic Languages. Its initial staff comprised two professors, one associate professor, four assistant professors, one instructor, five associates, four assistants, and one lecturer; the 1919-20 UC Register lists 21 courses. Ten years later, there were 28 courses taught by a staff of 22, including six assistants. World War II caused a sharp decline in enrollment and in courses offered, but after the war, enrollments resumed their upward trend, reaching a total of 2,561 in the 1965 spring semester (1,556 lower division, 845 upper division, 160 graduate). Fifty courses (mostly year-sequences) were announced for 1964-65: nine lower division, 21 upper division, and 20 graduate. As the department grew, the proportion of higher-ranking staff members gradually increased. The Berkeley General Catalogue, 1964-65 names (exclusive of emeriti) seven professors, two associate professors, seven assistant professors, five acting instructors, and two lecturers. Some 50 teaching assistants furnished additional instruction.

The department provided, beyond the basic lower division program, a well-balanced offering in the French language, ancient and modern, and in all periods of the literature. Increasing emphasis on graduate study was shown by the fact that of some 70 doctoral dissertations directed by staff members since 1919, nearly half were completed during the period 1954-65; 26 such dissertations were in progress by the mid-1960s.

With a view to the needs of prospective teachers, on both the secondary and the collegiate levels, French was generally the medium of instruction in upper division and graduate courses. In the 1960s, however, the department also offered as a service to students in other departments, several literature courses requiring no knowledge of French, as well as non-credit courses for students preparing their graduate reading examinations. During World War II, instruction in military and technical French was provided for those about to enter the Armed Forces.

In 1938, the Maison Française, an ad hoc corporation sponsored by the department and directed by staff members and non-University friends of France, purchased a house on Dwight Way to serve as a residence for women students and as a cultural center for others interested in French. This enterprise functioned successfully until 1942, when difficulties due to war conditions necessitated its abandonment.

In 1915, the French Government gave the University a collection of some 6,000 volumes, representing notable achievements of French scholarship, which had been exhibited at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The Doe Library housed the collection for many years in a special room that served also as a French seminar. After the department's removal to Dwinelle Hall, such of the books as particularly concerned French studies were transferred to a departmental library in the new building. The French Government subsequently enriched this library with additional gifts and, over the years, recognized the department's work in other ways, notably by conferring the Légion d'Honneur on nine members of its staff. source


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