A native of Ramseur, NC, Bill Allen attended Wake Forest University where he participated in study away programs in Venice, Italy and Dijon, France. He completed his MA and doctoral work at UNC-CH, where his dissertation was on literary dandyism in the works of Théophile Gautier. Before coming to Furman in 1987, he also taught at the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France, and Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

Allen has often served the department as French coordinator; he has also served as recorder of the faculty and on numerous university, administrative and ad-hoc committees, including stints as chair of Appeals and Faculty Status. He was chair of MLL from 2007 to 2016.

In addition to diverse teaching duties which have included Italian, Humanities, and continuing education courses as well as French classes at all levels, Allen has been a frequent director or co-director of study away programs at UNC (Quebec, Montpellier), Dickinson (Toulouse) and Furman (Versailles, Summer China Experience, Slow Food Italy).


Name Title Description


Elementary French I

Introduction to the sound system and grammatical structure necessary to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in French. An appreciation of French-speaking culture underlies the orientation of the course.


Intermediate French I

Continuation of the development of proficiency in listening and speaking, while expanding the reading and writing skills using materials of a literary or cultural nature.


Intro to French Readings

Builds upon and further enhances the basics developed through the first intermediate course. Reading numerous short works of fiction and nonfiction and through discussions and short written assignments in French, expanding the critical listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary and cultural skills necessary for further study.


French Conversation

Intense oral practice focusing on practical daily use as well as discourse on Francophone cultures and events with an emphasis on current, everyday speech. A variety of sources are used to develop listening and communication skills; improve fluency in speaking French; build vocabulary; and familiarize students with appropriate linguistic register. An introduction to French phonetics is included.


French Composition

Development of advanced writing skills in French with emphasis on advanced grammar structures, organization, idiomatic expressions, vocabulary building, and rhetorical strategies. A variety of sources are used to refine the ability to write in different genres for different occasions.


French Lit & Civilization II

An interdisciplinary introduction to French civilization, literature and fine arts from 1600 to 1800.


French Lit & Civilization III

An interdisciplinary introduction to French civilization, literature and fine arts of the 19th and 20th centuries, including authors of the Francophone world.


French Romanticism

Selected works of the principal literary figures of the first half of the nineteenth century in France. Poetry, prose fiction, and drama included.


Studies in French Literature

In-depth focus on a period, movement, author, genre, or theme. Possible topics might include the French lyric tradition, exoticism, narratives of childhood, etc. May be repeated for credit based on change of topic.


Beginning Italian

Introduction to the sound system and grammatical structure necessary to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Italian. An appreciation of Italian culture underlies the orientation of the course.

Our mission in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures is to give our students the tools to communicate with, interpret and understand countries, cultures and people both beyond and within American borders: in short, to make of them cosmopolitan citizens of the world.

To reach this goal, I believe students need to engage in a dialectic process involving both hard work (usually through intensive, solitary, cognitive activity) and lived experience (often in memorable group settings engaging all the senses at once). (I sometimes sum this up as "Work Hard, Play Hard"). The former tends to occur in formal, campus-based classes; the latter in study away experiences, but neither form of learning is exclusive to one setting. The modern language teacher's goal should be to excite the curiosity of the students as they learn, read, and think; and then to bring them to spaces (classroom, café, museum, homestay, landscape, etc.) where they can confront new things beyond their previous experience and develop means to cope, communicate, and finally to understand. In this way they proceed toward discovery of world and self.

Allen's dissertation and subsequent work examined the figure of the dandy as a literary character and narrator in the works of Baudelaire, Balzac, Barbey d'Aurevilly and particularly Gautier. Other interests have included Gautier's travel literature, the poetic imagery of Victor Hugo, political perspectives in 19th century French writers, and 20th century French history. More recently, he has been a frequent presenter at regional conferences on the novels of Irène Némirovsky and the resistance literature of Vercors. In addition to other publications, numerous book reviews by Allen have appeared in French Review and other journals.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wake Forest University

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