Each Romance Studies graduate program offers advanced literary and interdisciplinary training – guided by a vibrant community of scholars representing the wide range and complexity of trends and schools that constitute the study of the humanities today – prepares new generations of researchers, teachers, and intellectuals.

Select a program tab below to learn more:

Hassan Melehy (PhD, University of Minnesota), Professor of French and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature: early modern literature and culture, critical theory, colonialism and migration, philosophy, film studies.

Jessica Tanner (PhD, Harvard University), Assistant Professor of French: 19th-century French literature and culture, critical theory, colonial studies, urban studies.
Ellen Welch (PhD, University of Pennsylvania), Assistant Professor of French: seventeenth-century literature, cross-cultural issues in the early modern world, translation studies.

Affiliated Faculty

Zeina G. Halabi (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin), Assistant Professor of Arabic: Modern Arabic Literature and Culture; Francophone Literature (Lebanon and Lebanese diaspora); urban, music, and film Studies; Arabic pop culture.

Donald. M. Reid (Ph.D.  Stanford University),  Professor of History: 19th and 20th century French history, cultural studies, labor history

The Graduate Program in French and Francophone Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill trains scholars and teachers in the analysis of the literature and culture of the Francophone world. The program offers a full graduate curriculum in all periods of French literature from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, in the literature of many French-speaking geographical regions, in cinema, and in literary, cultural, and social theory. Faculty members offer graduate seminars stemming from their own research on topics that include early modern poetry and poetics, the literature and culture of Québec, the seventeenth-century novel, theater and performance, nineteenth-century literature and culture, colonial and postcolonial studies, contemporary theory, Francophone Asia, Franco-Arab studies, the cinema of the Nouvelle Vague, and gender and sexuality studies. All courses involve a variety of approaches by which graduate students receive a thoroughly rounded, globally oriented education through the doctoral level.

The transdisciplinary and transcultural orientation of the Program in French and Francophone Studies is reflected in its close ties with other units on the UNC campus, such as the Center for European Studies, the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Department of Asian Studies, the Program in Comparative Literature, and the Program in Sexuality Studies. PhD students are encouraged to take classes in these and other areas as a complement to their coursework in French and Francophone Studies. Enhancing the graduate experience at UNC is nearby Duke University, which also has a highly dynamic graduate program in French as well as many other fields; the two institutions have long had a policy allowing graduate students at each to take courses at the other. In addition, UNC graduate students have opportunities to work and study in a Francophone environment through programs in Montpellier, Paris, and Montreal.

As part of their professional training, all graduate students in French and Francophone Studies teach a variety of courses, including all levels of language instruction, conversation and composition, and introduction to literature. In their first year, students take a seminar in language pedagogy designed to build their abilities and qualifications as teachers.

  • Marisa Escolar Modern and contemporary literature and culture, translation studies, censorship, cultural studies



  • Federico Luisetti Modern and contemporary literature and culture, Theory, Visual and film studies



  • Ennio Rao Italian Humanism and Renaissance, Epicureanism in the Renaissance, Italian dialects



Affiliated Faculty

The Graduate Program in Italian Studies enables its students to pursue interdisciplinary work that creates dialogues between Italian literary, linguistic, and cultural production and other fields such as anthropology, comparative literature, cultural and visual studies, critical theory, film studies, geography, history, music, post-colonial studies, translation studies, women and gender studies.  Students’ interdisciplinary interests are fostered by the UNC Italian faculty, who, in addition to helping to provide a broad knowledge of Italian literary and cultural history, teach courses on the Avant-gardes and post-structuralism, Renaissance theater, Humanism, dialects, and translation studies of and in post-war Italy.

In addition to coursework within the department, our students take advantage of a wide range of offerings from several departments on campus – such as English and Comparative Literature and Communication Studies – and have the opportunity to enroll in Italian seminars in the Department of Romance Studies at Duke University, with whom we collaborate closely. Furthermore, the Center for European Studies, the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Program in Cultural StudiesWomen’s Studies, and other programs provide opportunities for academic research and coursework.

Aiming to equip young scholars with the professionalization necessary to embark on careers as researchers and teachers, our program enables graduate students in Italian to teach a range of classes, including all levels of language, composition, conversation and, for advanced students, seminars on literature and culture. Graduate students develop mentoring relationships with teaching faculty and gain experience with recent language pedagogy and diverse instructional technologies. There are many initiatives in the department which allow graduate students to adopt leadership roles: coordinating an Italian film festival, the tavola italiana, writing contests, course coordination, and more.

Graduate students are also given the opportunity to collaborate with our department’s publications and plan events, the most visible of which is our annual departmental Carolina Conference on Romance Literatures, a two-day event now in its 20th year which brings together graduate students and professors from across the country for collegial exchanges on the most pressing current topics in Romance Studies.

Graduate students in Italian Studies have also the opportunity to apply for several competitive fellowships and for a year long period of teaching and research in Florence at the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Prospective graduate students may choose from the following degree programs:

The Graduate Program in Literatures, Languages, and Cultures of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas aims to equip scholars, researchers, and teachers with the necessary skills to analyze the literary, linguistic, and cultural production associated with these regions of the world.  The Ph.D. program allows specialization in the literature and culture originating in either continent, or, if a transatlantic approach is selected, a combination of both. Regardless of specialization, all students will be trained globally, since for their written examination they will be required to address both regions.  The goal is to perceive the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas not as separate entities to be studied in isolation, but as interconnected and interdependent regions whose cultural discourses reveal deep relationships when studied in unison.

The graduate faculty brings to bear a broad array of interdisciplinary interests and competencies, from historical, literary, linguistic, social, and cultural emphases to film and visual studies. Graduate students will engage in research and coursework that, while departing from the millenarian roots of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas, may consider, among other topics, East-West transatlantic and transcontinental discourses that have taken place among Spain, Portugal, the Americas, Africa, and Asia; or North-South literary and cultural dialogues between the Iberian Peninsula and Africa, and within the Americas.  Students may also build their programs of study to include diasporic exchanges (that is, those occurring in countries where people of Hispanic descent have settled) or the literatures, languages and cultures of other groups in these regions (those speaking indigenous, African or Portuguese Languages in the Americas; or Portuguese, Catalan, Basque, or Galician in the Iberian Peninsula).  In addition, students acquire a solid knowledge of literary criticism and theory, and may also include film and visual studies in their areas of preparation.

Students interested in global, trans-disciplinary, comparative and applied approaches to the study of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas will benefit from the department’s close association with theCenter for European Studies, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, American Indian Studies, theAfrican Studies Center, the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Latina/o Studies,Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Women’s Studies,  and other units with which many of our faculty collaborate.