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The Henri Peyre French Institute, founded in 1980, is named in honor of the late Henri Peyre (1901-1988), internationally renowned linguist, literary scholar, and critic. Professor Peyre was a great influence in introducing Americans to French modern literature and culture. He authored 44 books about French classicism, modern literature, and higher education, and mentored numerous students along their path to doctoral degrees while serving as Distinguished Professor and Executive Office of the Ph.D. Program in French at the Graduate Center.

Inspired by that rich intellectual legacy, The Henri Peyre French Institute presents a wide range of special events that are free and open to everyone who values and enjoys French and Francophone cultures. The programs include exhibits, artistic performances, readings, seminars and lectures on subjects as varied as literature, philosophy, politics, art, theatre, film and music.

Fundraising activities and the endowment of the Henri Peyre French Institute support the Graduate Center Ph.D. Program in French, ranked second in the country for the scholarly achievement of its faculty, by providing scholarship awards to students and funding for the French doctoral student conferences held at the Graduate Center.