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French Literature

Bibliographer: Nancy Shawcross, 215-898-2065,

I. Program Information

The French and francophone literature and linguistics collections at Penn support the French program in the Romance Languages Department, as well as programs in other departments in the humanities that draw on the French and francophone literary traditions.

The curriculum at Penn covers the full range of French literature from medieval to modern times, with faculty research addressing all major historical periods and genres. There is a strong interest in francophone literature, as well as in film, women's studies, cultural studies, theory, and fields such as history and art history that bear on the study of French literature.

II. Collection Description

Serious development of the Library's collections in French dates from the appointment of the University's first professor of Romance languages in 1893. The Library's holdings are strong both in primary texts and in criticism. A high priority is the maintenance of a top-level collection of well-edited textual editions for student use (e.g., Pleiade, Garnier, Bouqins, etc.). A collection of 190 volumes of French 18th- and early 19th-century plays is housed in Special Collections. Much has been done in recent years to strengthen video/dvd holdings (beginning 1999) as well as francophone collections--African, Maghrebian, and Caribbean.

The Library provides Web access to Artfl, a very large searchable database of French literary and historical texts, as well as to Base Internationale de Lettres Electroniques du Moyen Age au XX siecle, or BASILE , the digitized version of the authoritative editions of canonical authors published by Champion.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    All periods.

  2. Formats

    Monographs and serials, in hardcopy and in microform. Dissertations (whether from France, the U.S., or elsewhere) are not normally acquired. The Library organizes and maintains collections of subject-based Internet links useful to students and scholars. Sites devoted to French literature are included in the French Studies page.

  3. Geographical

    Collections focus on publications from France, Belgium and Switzerland, and on the literary output of the Maghreb as well as French-speaking Caribbean, Africa, and Canada.

  4. Language

    Principally French and English.

  5. Publication Dates

    Emphasis on current materials, with selective retrospective purchasing as required.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

Librarie Touzot provides the Library with current imprints in French and francophone literature and criticism through an approval plan, which is supplemented by their bibliographic slips. The Library has a large number of standing orders with Aux Amateurs du Livre, who is also the Library's primary supplier of French journals.

The Library acquires contemporary French Canadian fiction through a modest approval plan with Coutts.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting
History of the French Language 3/3F
French Literature (Europe)
Old French to ca. 1500 3/3F
16th Century 3/3F
17th Century 3/3/4
18th Century 3/3/4
19th Century 3/3/4F
20th Century 3/3/4
Francophone literature
North Africa 2/3F
Subsaharan Africa 2/3F
French Caribbean 2/3F
French Canada 2/3F
French literary theory 4/4F
French cultural studies 4/4F
Film (French and francophone) 2/3F

VI. Subjects Excluded

Most popular fiction.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections