French studies: Resources for students, scholars, and general readers


C&RL News, June 2007

Vol. 68, No. 6

by Kristin W. Andrews

France has made important contributions to Western history, literature,
culture, and politics, from the Middle Ages to the present. In the
realm of literature, names such as Chrétien de Troyes, Molière,
Flaubert, and Sartre are well known. France is particularly famous for
its artists—including Delacroix, Renoir, Monet, Rodin, and Matisse.
Montesquieu, Descartes, and Rousseau were leaders in Western
philosophy. Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Charles de Gaulle, and François
Mitterand influenced the evolution of France and of Europe in general.
French colonialism contributed to new Francophone literatures and
cultures in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

The Internet widens the field of materials available to the student,
scholar, and general reader. Meta sites, gateways, and reference tools
offer a starting point for finding general information. Indexes and
catalogs help locate more specialized sources, and digital libraries
provide access to texts and images that users might otherwise have
trouble locating. Discussion lists and professional organizations
facilitate communication.

The resources in this article are intended for students, researchers,
librarians, and general readers who have some knowledge of French. They
are organized by type of resource, from general to specific. Discussion
lists and professional organizations are located at the end of the
article for further information.


French Studies Web: Reference Shelf.
The reference shelf contains links to reference tools on the Web that
provide information about France and French culture. It is organized by
type of tool and/or type of information. Access:

Le Quid. An almanac/encyclopedia with
information about both France and the world at large. The section with
statistics and maps of French regions and départements is particularly
useful. Access:

Meta sites and gateways

Le Quartier français du village planétaire.
A gateway to news sites, museums, government information, reference
tools, and cultural topics, among others. A gold star next to a link
indicates a highly recommended site. It is available in both French and
English. Access:

Literature and Culture of Francophone Africa and the Diaspora.
This site, maintained by the Brown University Library, features
Internet resources on Francophone African culture, including
literature, theater, and the visual and performing arts. There are also
links to African studies programs. It is searchable by region, resource
type, subject, and language. Access:

Portals to the World­—France: Selected Resources.
Maintained by the Library of Congress, this site provides links to Web
sites covering a wide range of subject areas from general resources to
government information to science. Access:

Tennessee Bob’s Famous French Links. An
extensive gateway with links to resources related to literature,
history, culture, current events, and more, this site is maintained by
a professor of French at the University of Tennessee and described as
part of a “10,000-Link Globe-Gate Supersite.” Access:

WESSWEB: French Studies Web. WESSWEB is
maintained by ACRL’s Western European Studies section. Selective
content focuses on scholarly Web resources and sites for librarians. Access:

Digital libraries

ABU: La Bibliothèque Universelle.
ABU is a digital library of French texts in the public domain. It
includes 288 texts by 101 authors. Access to specific works is
available through a keyword search as well as alphabetical author and
title indexes. Access:

Athena. Provides full-text access to works in French by French and Francophone authors, and translations of foreign works into French. Access:

France in America/France en Amérique. A
“bilingual digital library made available by the Library of Congress.
It explores the history of the French presence in North America from
the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century.” Access:

Gallica (Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
A vast digital library project of the French national library, Gallica
provides access to 90,000 texts, 80,000 images, and hours of audio
files. It covers a time period ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th
century and a complete range of subjects, including history,
literature, science, philosophy, law, economics, and political science.
The intended audience is broad, including high school students, the
general public, and university students and scholars. The user can
access documents either by using a search interface or by browsing
thematic categories. Access:

Poésie Française. A site with more than 
6,000 French poems from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The
collection is searchable by author, title, century, country, and
keyword. The site also features a poème au hasard (random poem) option
as well as a page of links to various sites related to French poetry or
specific poets. Access:

Indexes and catalogs

Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
The homepage of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which provides
access to various resources, including its online catalog (Catalog BN
OPALE-PLUS). Access:

Cultures Sud: Revue des littératures du sud.
This is an online index to Cultures Sud, a journal that covers
Francophone literature from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Indian
Ocean. The index covers articles from 1969 to the present and is
searchable by author, work studied, country, article title, and issue.
Article is not available in full text. Access:

Persée. Established by the Ministère de
l’éducation nationale, Persée provides full-text access to the back
files of French journals in the social and human sciences. The
interface is available in both French and English. Access: Like Persée, provides
full-text access to French journals in the social and human sciences.
It is possible to search all journals or a specific title. The entry
for each journal title includes a timeline of dates for which only
abstracts are available and dates for which full text is available. Access:

Discussion lists

Afrique. French language discussion list about African literature. Access: to subscribe,  e-mail Message: “SUBSCRIBE Afrique firstname lastname.”

Francofil. A bilingual general discussion
forum based in the United Kingdom. It is intended for scholars and
teachers of French and Francophone studies. Topics include social
issues, linguistics, history, and philosophy, as well as teaching. Access:

Professional organizations

American Association of Teachers of French (AATF).
“The largest national association of French teachers in the world with
nearly 10,000 members.” It is intended for both secondary and
post-secondary teachers. Access:

Association des Bibliothécaires de France (ABF). ABF, founded in 1906, is the oldest library association in France. Its members come from all types of organizations. Access:

Modern Language Association (MLA). MLA is the major national organization for students, teachers, and scholars of modern languages and literatures. Access:

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