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Resources for French

Eiffel Tower Patisserie Louvre Sign at Sunset

The study of French includes learning to read, write, speak and comprehend French as well as the study of the literature, history, culture and politics of France and other French-speaking countries. This guide points out some of the resources available in this field. It is not complete; please don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help if you aren't finding what you need.

Table of Contents:

Indexes and Databases
For more information and additional suggestions, see the Databases Guide for French.
    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
    1831-recent years
  • MLA International Bibliography
    The major research resource for information on English literature, foreign languages and linguistics. Includes references to scholarly articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations; coverage dates back to the 1920's.
    1923-present; updated 9 times yearly
Reference Works
  • Dictionaries
    • Dictionnaire Alphabétique et Analogique de la Langue Francaise: Les Mots et les Associations d'Idées
      Paris: Société du Nouveau Littre 1973
      This seven volume French dictionary, "Le Robert," contains definitions of words, their etymology and examples of their usage.
      • Location(s): Ref PC 2625 .R5 1973
    • Grand Dictionnaire Français-Anglais, Anglais-Français
      Paris: Larousse 1993
      Dictionary with translations of words from French into English and from English into French.
      • Location(s): Ref PC 2640 .G735 1993
    • Oxford-Duden Pictorial French and English
      Oxford: Clarendon Press 1996
      A pictorial dictionary covering a wide range of topics including nature, occupations, entertainment and transportation.
      • Location(s): Ref PC 2680 .O93 1996
  • History and Culture
    • Cultural Atlas of France
      New York: Facts on File 1991
      Provides informations on the geography, history, culture and society of France with numerous maps, pictures and photographs. Includes a section on the various regions in France.
      • Location(s): Ref G 1844.21 E64 A7 1991
    • Encyclopaedia Universalis
      Paris: Encyclopaedia Universalis 1996
      A French encyclopedia covering a wide variety of subjects accompanied by pictures, maps and photographs.
      • Location(s): Ref AE 25 .E43 1996
    • Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture
      London: Routledge 1998
      Covers various facets of French culture including film, intellectual life, media, music, performing arts and politics. Provides brief biographies of major figures in French culture.
      • Location(s): Ref DC 33.7 .E53 1998
    • Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 1789-1799
      Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984
      More an encyclopedia than dictionary, entries include events, people, places and topics related to the French Revolution. Other dictionaries in this series include:
      • Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1799-1815
        Ref DC 201 .H673 1985
      • Historical Dictionary of the French Second Empire, 1852-1870
        Ref DC 276 .H57 1985
      • Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940
        Ref DC 337 .H57 1986
      • Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire
        Ref DC 256 3H57 1987
      • Historical Dictionary of the French Fourth and Fifth Republics, 1946-1991
        Ref DC 401 .H57 1992
      • Historical Dictionary of World War II France: the Occupation, Vichy, and the Resistance, 1938-1946
        Ref DC 397 .H58 1998

      • Location(s): Ref DC 147 .H57 1984
    • Medieval France: An Encyclopedia
      New York: Garland Publishing 1995
      An overview of medieval France with topics pertaining to politics, economics, religion, literature, art and society.
      • Location(s): Ref DC 33.2 .M44 1995
  • Literature
    • French Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book
      New York: Greenwood Press 1991
      Author entries include a biography, examination of major themes and a survey of criticism. Includes a bibliography of each author's works and a bibliography of studies/papers written about the author.
      • Location(s): Ref PQ 149 .F73 1991
    • Guide to French Literature, 1789 to the Present
      Chicago: St. James 1992
      Lengthy biographical and critical appraisals of writers in the French language, including prominent colonial and post-colonial writers in the Caribbean and Africa. Some entries cover literary movements such as Dada. Each article is followed by a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
      • Location(s): Ref PQ 41 .L46 1992
    • History of French Literature: From Chanson de Geste to Cinema
      London: Blackwell Publishers 2002
      Provides an overview of poetry, prose and drama including mojor figures and themes in French literature from the Middle Ages to the present day.
      • Location(s): PQ 103 .C67 2002
    • New Oxford Companion to Literature in French
      Oxford: Clarendon 1995
      Covers people, works, topics, and concepts related to French literature and the literature of the francophone world.
      • Location(s): Ref PQ 41 .N48 1995
  • Travel
    • France
      Watford, Hertsfordshire, England: Michelin 1997
      Arranged alphabetically according to city, this travel guide highlights and rates the main attractions in each city. Also contains maps, photographs and listings of main festivals. See also France, DC 20 .F73 1998.
      • Location(s): DC 16 .F74 1997
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus
    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • Limiting MnPALS Searches by Language
    You may limit MnPALS searches by language: from the Advanced Search screen, go to "Limit search to" section, and select a language from the "Language" drop-down menu.
Browsing for Books
Books are shelved in general subject categories using the Library of Congress classification system. You may want to supplement your use of the catalog with browsing shelf areas for your topic. Below is a brief listing of some of the subject locations in the field of French.
  • DC French History
  • DT 521-555.9 French West Africa
  • F 1051-1055 Quebec
  • F 1600-1763 New France and Acadia
  • F 2151 French West Indies
  • F2441+ French Guinana
  • PC 2001-3761 French Language
  • PQ 1-3999 French Literature


Print journals are housed in the periodicals collection on the first floor of the library.
  • Critique : revue générale des publications françaises et étrangères
  • L’Express
  • French Review
  • Magazine Litteraire
  • Romanic Review
  • Yale French Studies
  • General Resources
    • Afrique Francophone
      Provides links to African francophone media, literature sites and sites that provide information about various French-speaking African countries.
  • Media
  • Travel
Audiovisual Materials

The Audio Visual Department, located on the first floor, has a sizeable collection of videos and DVDs in French. Videos/DVDs can be checked out for 24 hours and are listed in the library catalog.

Photo Credits (L to R)

Eiffel Tower, Paris -
DSCN4588 -
The Louvre -

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