Romance Languages

About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (RL&L) is a cornerstone of the humanities at Wesleyan and the University’s gateway to the French-, Italian-, and Spanish-speaking worlds. We represent literary and cultural traditions that extend from the Middle Ages to the present. We teach languages, literatures, and cultures that span Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Our students develop and apply their knowledge and skills through the extracurricular activities and study-abroad opportunities that we promote. Through a network of collaborations across departments and divisions, we support a wide array of majors, academic programs, and initiatives.

Additional Information.

Students interested in enrolling in French, Italian, or Spanish at the elementary or intermediate levels are urged to do so during their first and sophomore years.

Department policy gives priority to first-year and sophomore students in our language classes (numbered 101-112) to allow students to study abroad and to meet the requirements of those programs requiring language study. Juniors and seniors who wish to take elementary and intermediate language courses should submit an online enrollment request and attend the first class. They may be accepted during the drop/add period if seats become available. Should a junior or senior enroll in the first course of an ampersand sequence (such as 101-102), he or she will have priority for the second course, just like first-year and sophomore students.

Major Description.

Romance Studies

The Romance studies (RMST) major provides students the opportunity to develop a broad knowledge of two or more of the Romance cultures taught at Wesleyan (French, Italian, Spanish) through a flexible, interdisciplinary program combining course work in a number of fields that may serve as the basis for future work or further academic or professional studies. Students who are interested in this major should contact the chair of the department.

Student Learning Outcomes.

The Romance Studies major provides students with the proficiency in two Romance languages (among French, Italian, and Spanish) to live, study, and work successfully in the corresponding French-, Italian-, and/or Spanish-speaking environments. They learn about their literatures and other cultural forms such as film and, through them, about their modes of thought, expression, and creative achievement. As a result, they improve their ability to communicate in French, Italian, and/or Spanish as well as their native language, become more adept at understanding other points of view, and learn to draw on a wide range of sources to stimulate their own creative and critical capacities. Students are encouraged to bring the resources of their two Romance cultures to bear together on problems that interest them, providing a depth of perspective unavailable in English only or a single foreign language. Finally, students explore the enormous cultural diversity of the French-, Italian, and/or Spanish-speaking worlds through a flexible, interdisciplinary program (often including study abroad), which can serve as the basis for future work or further academic or professional studies.

Admission to the Major.

Students qualify for this major with a grade of B or better in any combination of two of the following courses or the equivalent:  FREN215, ITAL111, or SPAN221.

Major Requirements.
  • Determination of a major (five courses in your primary language) and minor (four courses in your secondary language) focus.
  • A minimum of two comparative projects. The idea is to suspend, for a moment, the nationalist assumption that languages and cultures exist in isolation from each other. Writers, artists, scientists, and businesspersons routinely cross borders and languages. We ask you to do the same in two short or long papers, to be completed at Wesleyan or during study abroad. A comparative project means simply that, in consultation with a course instructor, you will draw substantially on both your Romance major languages and cultures to explore a problem that interests you. The project could be about border-crossing movements, reception, influence or adaptation, intertextuality, or dialogue between languages, literatures, and/or cultures. Or it could be an exploration of an issue that interests you (the environment, health care, urban planning, food, science, queer identities, fashion, etc.) in cross-cultural perspective, drawing on both your major languages and cultures. The projects may also be more informal or essayistic reflections (the equivalent of two short papers in length) on something significant you have learned or a perspective gained through study of two languages and cultures that you are unlikely to have learned through English only, a single foreign language, or another major. These essays may draw on work or study abroad or on the multiple courses you have taken at Wesleyan in your major languages. They may be written in English or in one of your major languages.  If you write in English you are expected to draw on sources in your major languages.
  • Nine courses at or above determined levels (FREN223, ITAL111, SPAN221) in two Romance languages.
  • At least one course taken in both your primary and your secondary languages following the student’s study-abroad experience.
  • At least one course taken in both your primary and secondary languages in the student’s senior year.
  • Students are expected to earn a B or better in courses that count for the major. Students wishing to count a course with a lower grade toward the major are expected to consult with the Chair of Romance Languages & LIteratures (who will consult with the department) about it as soon as the grade is recorded.
  • Courses must be taken for a letter grade, unless the student is also majoring in COL.

Additional Information.

  • Study abroad is expected to take place on a Wesleyan-sponsored study-abroad program. Alternatively, students may, with the advisor’s prior statement of support, study on another approved program. This practice is intended to promote the intellectual coherence of a major in which students acquire one language more recently than another.
  • Students may take one course in English centered on the culture of their primary language.
  • With the advisor’s approval, students may satisfy the comparative requirement by way of course work and/or written work conducted on a study abroad program.
  • Students whose primary language placement is higher than FREN215, ITAL112, SPAN221 are required to complete nine courses, two of which may be in English in the primary languages's culture only.
  • You may count up to three courses taken during study-abroad toward the major.  These courses may be taken in one or both of the major languages.
  • Except in rare circumstances, students may not double major in any of the majors sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures: RMST,  SPAN, FRST, ITST.
  • Senior essays or theses must be comparative and involve the literatures and/or cultures of the student's major languages.
  • Essay, thesis, and other (e.g., CA/TA) tutorials and language courses do not count toward the major, although they are encouraged.
Study Abroad.

All majors are strongly encouraged to spend at least one semester studying abroad in a Romance-language-speaking country. In addition to Wesleyan's own programs in Bologna, Madrid, and Paris, there are currently Wesleyan-approved study-abroad programs in Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France (internships in Francophone Europe in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble), Italy (Florence, Padua, Rome), Madagascar, Mexico, and Senegal. Wesleyan also sends one exchange student a year to the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. Students who have strong academic reasons for wishing to participate in other programs may also petition the International Studies Committee for permission to do so. For information on the approved programs and the petition process, contact the Office of International Studies, 105 Fisk Hall (


See the department website or click on AP, Transfer of Credit, Honors, Capstone & Amphersand Courses

Advanced Placement.

See the department web site or click on AP, Transfer of Credit, Honors, Capstone & Ampersand Courses

Transfer Credit.

See the department website or click on AP, Transfer of Credit, Honors, Capstone & Ampersand Courses

Additional Information.

Students are responsible for ensuring that major communications with the primary language advisor about the essay or thesis work also go to the secondary language advisor at the same time (and vice-versa: communications with the secondary language advisor should go to the primary language advisor).