Universiteit Leiden

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Subject guide

French Language and Culture

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for research in French language and culture.

Literature: Renaissance, Modernism and innovative literature since 1950; major writers and works from all periods; French literature outside France, notably North Africa and the Caribbean. Linguistics: syntacs and semantics; second language acquisition and the role of the French language outside France.
Digital textcorpora; text books; French literature, dictionaries, journals

The majority of the paper French collection can be found at the University Library. Most of the books are in closed stacks and can be requested through the Catalogue.

Reference collection

The reference collection of French language and culture is available on the first floor. Items cannot be borrowed, but it is possible to make copies or scans. The reference collection comprises:

  • Reference works and bibliographies
  • Primary and secondary literature on an array of subjects
  • Dictionaries
  • Journals (only current issues)

The reference collection is organized by the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). Book titles in the field of French are mostly found in these classes:

  • PC : French language
  • PR : French literature
  • Z : Bibliographies
  • C : Philosophy

Paper journals

Current issues of journals which are not available online are placed in the round journal cabinets at the entrance to reading room 6. Back volumes are generally located in the S-UB (basement, stairs next to the information desk). Journals in the Closed Stacks can be requested through the Catalogue.

Find our databases on French Language and Culture in the catalogue.

To the catalogue

Gallica is the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France containing all the digitized material. A great deal of French texts older than 1900 can be read and partly searched online.

Le Grand Corpus des littératures française et francophone du Moyen Âge au 20e siècle contains more than 14,000 texts from about 300 authors that can be searched simultaneously. It includes diplomatic editions, modern written versions and translated editions for the medieval period (given with the version in ancient French).

Frantext is a textual database with mostly literary texts from the 9th untill the 20th century that can also be searched by syntactic categories.

The Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts is an important resource for finding publications on French linguistics.

The MLA  is an important bibliography for language and literature, also for French.

Klapp Online is the most comprehensive overview of publications on French literature since 1956. It is mainly used to search for references of books and articles over a wide variety of subjects. The printed edition can be found in Study Area 8 (Z2171.B56). The UBL also offers access to the online edition, which dates back to 1991.

Manuscripts and archives

Medieval manuscripts

  • Manuscripts with texts in Old Franch: about 60
  • Latin manuscripts produced in France: about 500

Post-medieval manuscripts and private archives

  • Paper of W.G.C. Byvanck (1848-1925), Sem Dresden (1914-2002), Jean Luzac (1746-1807) and Etienne Luzac (1754-1827), publishers of the Gazette de Leyde, Prosper Marchand (1678-1756).




Hundreds of French-language publications are part of the collections of UBL, Bibliotheca Thysiana and Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (sixteenth-nineteenth century). See also the subject guide Early Printed Books.


  • Photography (starting in the nineteenth century) and travel photography from France, among others famous buildings in Paris and other cities.
  • Paris in twentieth-century documentary photography, among others Emmy Andriesse (1914-1953, street photography, fashion photography), Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) and Johan van der Keuken (1938-2001)
  •  Portraits in nineteenth-century carbon printing by the Paris studio photographer Nadar (pseud. Nadar, 1820-1910) of writers, dramatists and musicians

Maps and atlases

  • Approx. 3500 land and sea maps, military maps and city maps of France, including manuscript maps (sixteenth century et seq.; see Bodel Nijenhuis, 80 t/m 95) and about 20 atlases of France
  • Approx. 1000 topographical prints of France (from the sixteenth century)

Prints, drawings and portraits

  • A large amount of prints from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, focusing on seventeenth-century artists such as Abraham Bosse, Jacques Callot, Claude Mellan, Jean Morin and Robert Nanteuil.
  • A series of prints on the French Revolution, called Collection complète de la Révolution française.
  • Portrait prints of French kings, emperors, scholars, writers and artists.
  • A rare fifteenth-century portrait drawing of an unknown young man from the circles of Jean Fouquet (PK-T-AW-1309)
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