French

Professors: Elisabeth Cardonne–Arlyckab, Cynthia B. Kerr, Christine RenoabAssociate Professors: Mark Andrews (Chair), Patricia–Pia CélérierbAssistant Professors: Kathleen Hart; Susan Hiner; Visiting Instructors: Paul Fenouillet, Mansouria Geist.

All courses are conducted in French.

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units including at least 3 units at the 300–level. No courses in French elected after the declaration of the major may be taken NRO.

Senior Year Requirements: 3 units of French at the 300–level.

Teaching Certification: Students who wish to obtain Secondary Certification must complete the program of study outlined by the education department.

Advisers: The department.

Study Abroad: Vassar College and Wesleyan University sponsor jointly a program of study in Paris. Majors in French are expected to participate in this program for one or two semesters during their junior year. Students electing a correlate sequence in French are also encouraged to participate in the program. Students concentrating in other fields for whom study in Paris is advisable are accepted, within the regulations of their respective departments and the Office of the Dean of Studies. Courses offered in the Paris program are included below. Students of French who are unable to study abroad during the academic year are strongly encouraged to attend the summer program at Middlebury College French School, or other summer programs in France or French–speaking countries.

Correlate Sequence in French: Students majoring in other programs may complement their study by electing a correlate sequence in French. Course selection should be made in consultation with the chair or other advisers in the department.

Requirements: 6 units, at least 5 of which must be taken above the 100–level. At least 1 but preferably 2 units must be taken at the 300–level. No French courses elected after declaration of the correlate sequence may be taken NRO.

Study Away and summer courses may be substituted in the correlate sequence, with departmental approval. A majority of units in the correlate sequence must be taken at Vassar.


I. Introductory

105a–106b. Elementary French (1)

Fundamentals of the language. Students learn to understand spoken French, to express simple ideas both orally and in writing, and to read French of average difficulty. The department.

Not open to students who have previously studied French.

Three 50–minute class periods, 2 hours of drill and oral practice.

180a. Supernatural Effects (1)

This course explores the Fantastic tradition in nineteenth–century French literature and considers later eruptions of the supernatural in Surrealist and Magic Realist texts. From its origins under the terror of the guillotine, which ushered in a new fascination for the macabre, the French Fantastic took on deepening psychological dimensions over the course of the nineteenth century. We investigate further instances of the uncanny in early twentieth–century Surrealist novels. Finally, analyzing a novel by the Haitian writer, René Depestre, we contemplate to what extent different cultural contexts and historical moments present unique practices of the literary supernatural. Authors may include: Nodier, Gautier, Dumas, Mérimée, Verne, Villiers, Maupassant, Desnos, Depestre. Ms. Hiner.

Open only to freshmen.


II. Intermediate

205a or b. Intermediate French I (1)

Fast–paced review of the main points of basic grammar. Includes practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, through written exercises, short texts and compositions, and work with the audiovisual resources of the language laboratory. The department.

Prerequisite: French 105–106 or two years of French in high school.

Three 50–minute or two 75–minute periods; one hour of scheduled oral practice.

206a or b. Intermediate French II (1)

Expanded grammar study with an emphasis on more complex linguistic structures such as relative pronouns and the subjunctive. Reading, writing, and speaking skills are developed through discussion of cultural and literary texts and use of audiovisual material. This course prepares students linguistically for cultural and literary study at the intermediate level. The department.

Prerequisite: French 205 or three years of French in high school. French 105–106 by permission of instructor.

Three 50–minute or two 75–minute periods; one hour of scheduled oral practice.

212a or b. Reading French Literature and Film (1)

Introduction to the analysis of literature and film and to basic modes of interpretation through the study and discussion of short texts (poems, short stories, films, plays, essays). The department.

Prerequisite: French 206 or four years of French in high school.

213a or b. France Through Her Media (1)

An introductory study of France through current newspapers, magazines, television programs, films and the web. A strong emphasis is placed on the expansion of vocabulary and on oral and written expression. Some grammar review. The department.

Prerequisite: French 206 or four years of French in high school.

228b. Tellers and Tales (1)

Study of short stories taken from several periods of French literature. Introduction to the study of narrative forms and critical writing. Mr. Andrews.

Prerequisite: two years of college French or four years of French in high school.

230b. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

Topic for 2001/02: The Politics of Seduction. Introduction to the literature and culture of France, with a special focus on woman as subject and object of desire. Readings include the love poetry of Ronsard, La Princesse de Clèves, a story of illicit passion by France's first prominent woman novelist, and classical theater's masterpieces of love and deception authored by Corneille, Racine, and Molière. The course concludes with Diderot's celebrated narrative, La Religieuse, about a young woman's struggle for emancipation in pre–Revolutionary France. Ms. Kerr.

Prerequisite: two years of college French or four years of French in high school.

231a. Revolutionary France and Its Legacies (1)

Studies in French literature, history, and culture in relation to the French Revolution during the Enlightenment and the Romantic period.

Topic for 2001/02: Politics and Poetics of the Exotic: A study of French literary encounters with the "exotic" from the Age of Enlightenment to Romanticism. From the Enlightenment construction of the noble savage to Romantic escapism in an imagined Orient, this course considers the space and character of the exotic as a point of cultural intersection in the French literary imagination. Authors may include: Montesquieu, Graffigny, Rousseau, Voltaire, Bernardin de Saint Pierre, C. Duras, Chateaubriand, Balzac, Baudelaire. Ms. Hiner.

Prerequisite: two years of college French or four years of French in high school.

[232b. The Modern Age] (1)

The course explores literary, artistic, social, or political manifestations of modern French society and its relation to the French–speaking world from the Napoleonic Empire to the present.

Prerequisite: two years of college French or four years of French in high school.

Not offered in 2001/02.

235a. Contemporary France (1)

A study of French society and culture from WWII to the present. Starting with the 1939 German occupation and its enduring marks on the French, the course draws on a variety of texts (historical documents, novels and short stories, special issues of selected French magazines and journals, movies and documentaries) to examine the impact on society and culture of the major historical events that have shaped France. Attention is given to Metropolitan France, its colonies and its Départements d'Outre–Mer (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guiana, and Reunion). Ms. Geist.

Prerequisite: two years of college French or four years of French in high school.

240a. Study of French Grammar (1)

In–depth study of major aspects of French grammar. Grammar exercises, compositions, and oral practice. Ms. Kerr.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

241b. Composition and Conversation (1)

A course designed to improve written and oral expression, through the study and practice of various forms of writing, and the discussion of readings on contemporary issues.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

[242b. Studies in Genre I] (1)

Study of narrative and prose forms including the novel, autobiography, and the essay.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2001/02.

243a. Studies in Genre II (1)

Study of dramatic and lyric forms including theater, poetry, and song.

Topic for 2001/02: "The Play's the Thing": Contemporary French and Francophone Theater, 1950–2000. An examination, through theater, of major developments in late twentieth–century thought, including existentialism, anticolonialism, and the avantgarde. From the politically committed "théâtre de situations" of Jean–Paul Sartre to the "théâtre de la négritude" of Aimé Césaire, the "désengagement" of Samuel Beckett, and the fierce social satire of Jules Romains, Eugène Ionesco, and Jean Genet. We explore how contemporary dramatists use the stage to parody society and/or effect change. Prominent women playwrights and directors are studied: Fatima Gallaire, Marie Redonnet, Anne Hébert, Ariane Mnouchkine. Students read dramatic literature, theory, and criticism, watch filmed performances, and work on their own interpretations of scenes from famous contemporary plays. Emphasis is placed on oral participation. Ms. Kerr.

Prerequisite: Another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

[244a. Studies in French Film] (1)

The course focuses on the evolution of narrative forms in French film, from the silent era to the present. Ms. Cardonne–Arlyck.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or by permission.

Not offered in 2001/02.

[246a. French–Speaking Cultures and Literatures of Africa and the Caribbean] (1)

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2001/02.

[247a. Constructions of Identity] (1)

Focusing on events, institutions, or movements, on expressions of "high" or "low" culture, on important figures, or on issues of class, gender, race, or religious differences, this course explores the changing conceptions of what constitutes identity in France or the French–speaking world.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

Not offered 2001/02.

280b. France: a New Multicultural Society (1)

Beginning with the history of immigration in France, the course is an examination of the political, social and cultural changes that ethnicity is bringing about in today's France. The course focuses on the creation of new ethnic groups and considers the current arguments concerning alternative concepts of cultural and national identity, as well as the conflicts that have been generated around minority cultures. Major topics include the impact of Islam in France, the affirmation of cultural difference, issues of citizenship, racism and antiracism, and the renewed debates on integration and multiculturalism. Ms. Geist.

Prerequisite: another 200–level course above French 206 or equivalent.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Permission required.


III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 1 unit of 200–level work above French 235, or Study Abroad in France or in a French–speaking country, or by permission.

300a. Senior Thesis (1)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

301a or b. Senior Translation (1/2 or 1)

Open only to majors. One unit of credit given in exceptional cases only and by permission of the Chair. The department.

[332a. Literature and Society in Pre–Revolutionary France] (1)

Not offered in 2001/02.

348b. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2001/02: Reading at the Turn of the Century. The course examines the forces, ideas, and events that shape the experience of readers of French fiction at the beginning of the twenty–first century. Through a reading of selected novels we consider the modern cultural practices at play in forging a relationship between author, text, and reader. We investigate the influence of market forces in the promotion of novelistic fiction and the emergence of the Internet as a vehicle for experimental engagement between writer and audience. The postmodern thinking of Jean–François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and Michel de Certeau provides a framework for our discussion of the reader as consumer or producer. Novelists may include: Annie Ernaux, Patrick Modiano, Marie Darrieussecq, Camille Laurens, Jean–Jacques Schuhl, Yann Apperry. Mr. Andrews.

355b: Cross–Currents in French Culture (1)

Topic for 2001/02: Consuming Culture in Nineteenth–Century France. The rise of material culture in the nineteenth century is chronicled in the great realist novels of the century, which are filled with objects and activities that supply and reflect the new fetishism of a consumer society. This course studies the consumer revolution in nineteenth–century France from an interdisciplinary approach, complementing primary fictional readings with treatises on such topics as fashion, cooking, etiquette, city life, household furnishing and tourism. Topics include the development of consumerism and the marketplace in France, the concept of distinction, the commodification of art, and the decadence of Second Empire lifestyles, etc. Through readings of both fiction and non–fictional works we examine the consumer, the public and private spaces of his/her consumption, and the objects s/he consumes. Readings from Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, Dumas, Baudelaire, Benjamin and others. Ms. Hiner.

366a. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2001/02: After the Rwandan Genocide: French–speaking African Literature and the Work of Remembrance. How does a writer speak of the unspeakable? Four years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the association Fest'Africa organized a writers' workshop in Kigali entitled "Rwanda; Writing and the Duty to Remember," to bear witness to and reflect on the "events." Approximately ten African writers, scholars, journalists and artists participated in this project. In the seminar, we study novels written as part of this initiative and ask the following questions: Is fiction writing paradoxically more able to articulate the madness of mass slaughter and inhumanity? How do these works help us rethink the political implications of the Rwandan genocide? How do they inform the field of African literature today? Authors include Boubacar Boris Diop (Senegal), Tierno Monenembo (Guinea), Monique Ilboudo (Burkina Faso), Koulsy Lamko (Chad) and Véronique Tadjo (France–Ivory Coast). Ms. Célérier.

370a. Stylistics and Translation (1)

A study of different modes of writing and of the major problems encountered when translating from English to French, and vice versa. Practice with a broad range of both literary and nonliterary texts. Mr. Fenouillet.

French 380a. Discourses of the Self (1)

In this course we examine questions of identity and self–representation in writings from the eighteenth century to the present. Our main focus will be theories of identity which propose that every individual needs to develop a feeling of positive value which can be confirmed by others. We will explore how first–person narrators seem to assign value to themselves in autobiographies, novels, and autofiction. We will also consider how gender, race, class, and nationality influence the ways in which narrators depict themselves and others. Authors include Rousseau, Laclos, Tristan, Camus, Gide, Ernaux, Guibert. Ms. Hart.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the Chair. The department.

Vassar–Wesleyan Program in Paris

Courses are subject to change. For information, please consult the French department.

250b. "Poète maudit": Birth and Death of the Myth (1)

How did the poet, a key figure at the Renaissance court, come to be considered by the end of the nineteenth century as a rebel, a literary outlaw? How does the modern poet define himself in this century and beyond under the shadow of this stereotype? After highlighting various milestones of poetry's liberation from the constraints of literary patronage (D'Aubigné's engaged epics, La Fontaine's contradictory verse, Hugo's Romanticism) the course focuses on the major "poètes maudits" of the post–Romantic period: Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Lautréamont. Ms. Garcia.

251a. Love and Tragedy in French Theater (1)

This course first studies the nature of seventeenth–century tragedy as transformed by Corneille and Racine, who grafted a love story onto the core of myth. We then move to the twentieth century's reshaping of the notion of the tragic through the influence of various philosophical currents. Questions of style (baroque and classical) and philosophy (existentialism and the absurd) are foregrounded, with emphasis both on the continuity of tragic literature and on formal variations from the seventeenth century to the present. Plays are chosen in light of the Paris theatrical season, so as to allow the analysis of a number of live performances. Mr. Clément.

[252a. Special Topics] (1)

This course is taught by the resident director. Topics vary each year.

Not offered in 2001/02.

253a. Contemporary French History (1)

This course focuses on French political history since 1958 and salient features of France's political institutions: strengths and weaknesses of the 1958 Constitution; the shared leadership of president and prime minister; the evolving role of the Assemblée Nationale and the constitutional and state councils. We analyze the strategies of the various political parties and the two recent major transformations in civil society: the urban crisis and the increasing visibility of women and minority groups (youths and immigrants) in the political arena. Franco–American relations and France's emerging role in the European Community are examined in depth. Ms. Sanson.

255b. France and the European Union (1)

This course examines the place of France in the European Union. It looks at the problems arising from economic restructuring, involving the lifting of trade barriers and the adoption of a common European currency. Finally, it analyzes the consequences of such changes for French national identity: shifts in educational policy, social and political disparities, the exacerbation of historical animosities. Ms. Balleix–Banerjee.

256b. Enlightenment Literature (1)

An introduction to the nature and spirit of the French Enlightenment through some of the major literary and philosophical works of the period. The course involves a historical presentation of the eighteenth century as well as a study of great individual works to which we still refer today in our thinking about art, science, politics, and love: Montesquieu's Lettres persanes; Rousseau's Discours; Diderot's Rêve de d'Alembert andPardoxe sur le Comédien; Voltaire's polemical writings. Mr. Chartier.

258b. Revolution and Totalitarianism in Europe; Fascist Italy, National Socialist Germany, Soviet Russia (1917–1939) (1)

The totalitarian regimes of the 1930s in Europe resulted from the political, economic and social consequences of World War I. These authoritarian governments embodied totalitarian ideologies which molded twentieth–century man. While Mussolini's fascist state, Hitler's Third Reich and Stalin's Soviet Union present important differences, all have in common interference through coercion at every leveleducation, culture, religion. This courses studies all aspects of these anti–democratic dictatorships. Mr. Ostenc.

259b. Social Classes and Political Parties in Contemporary France (1)

An in–depth study of France's ideological and political traditions and its economic, political and social structures. By tracing the historical development of these traditions since the Revolution and by comparing the French system with that of other European nations and the U.S., we come to understand the specificity of what many call "l'exception française" as well as the complexity of several major problems facing French institutions and society as France moves toward integration in the European Community. Ms. Berger.

260a. Studies in French Cinema. (1)

Topic for 2001/02: The Burlesque in Cinema. Mr. Goudet.

261b. Paris Through its Monuments (1)

This course offers a panorama of the history of Paris art and architecture. Students visit monuments and sections of the city chosen to illustrate particular periods of its development. Oral reports, slide viewing, written work and readings on the periods under study are required of course participants. Ms. Pêcheur.

262b. Special Topics (1)

Topic for 2001/02: Paris–Cinéma. Ms. Cardonne–Arlyck.

264a. Medieval Art (1)

An introduction to Romanesque and Gothic architecture and medieval painting and sculpture. Guided visits to Saint–German–des–Prés, the Musée de Cluny, Notre–Dame, the basilica of Saint–Denis, the Conciergerie, the Sainte–Chapelle, the Louvre, Saint–Séverin, Saint–Etienne–du–Mont and the Sainte–Geneviève area complement scholarly readings on French medieval art and study of notable medieval monuments outside of Paris. Ms Pêcheur.

265a. Franco–African Relations (1)

Beginning with a survey of precolonial kingdoms in Africa and the implantation of Islam, the course proceeds to an analysis of European intervention and of the structure of European colonial administration. Various phases of the African independence movement are highlighted: the formation of an African elite, the spread of African nationalisms, Panafricanism, and "Négritude." Finally, we examine French policies in the post–colonial period and the U.S.'s emerging role in African affairs. Mr. Amégan.

267a, 268b. History of Art (1)

This course focuses, each semester, on a different period in the history of French art, with special emphasis on the works of one or several of the major artists of the period, or of one school of art. Class visits to the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Orangerie, the Picasso Museum, or other museums containing works by artists under study are an integral part of the course.

Topic for Fall 2001/02a: Modernism: Approaches to Twentieth–Century Art. This course presents the wide array and the profusion of styles, forms, practices and agendas found in art of the twentieth century. Questions of tradition and modernity are explored in depth. Visits to permanent art collections and galleries allow students to observe and analyze contemporary art work, its presentation, the transformation of space, and new techniques and experiments. Ms. Kraguly.

Topic for Spring 2001/02b: From Object to Work of Art. Our twentieth–century world has become increasingly object–centered, and the proliferation of objects has led to corresponding economic and cultural changes. Many modern artists attempt to break down barriers between life and art and take a dynamic stance vis–à–vis objects, which they lift from their everyday framework in a dynamic of alineation. The course examines several key artistic movements notable for their innovations with objects: Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, New Realism as well as recent works by Manzoni, Broodthaers, Beuys, Raynaud, Lavel, and Oldenburg. Visits to Beaubourg, the Louvre, the Musée Picasso, the Grand Palais, the Jeu de Paume, and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris form an essential part of the program. Ms. Kraguly.

269a. From Notre Dame to IRCAM: A Survey of Musical Culture in France (1300–2000) (1)

This course attempts to identify the contributions of French composers to the history of Western music by placing their achievements in the context of other disciplines (literature and the applied arts), and in comparison with other cultures. It follows French music from chant and early polyphony in the thirteenth century through the birth and development of French opera and revolutionary songs, and explores the relationship between music and symbolist poetry, and French drama and music in the twentieth century. Lectures are accompanied by audio and visual aids and field trips to conservatories, libraries, opera houses, salons and concert halls. Mr. Memed.

272a or b. Writing Workshop (1/2)

This half–credit course is required of all students. Those attending the Vassar–Wesleyan Program for the full year take the workshop during the first semester only. The course prepares students to write papers for their classes. It covers common problems encountered in writing French and introduces students to the organization and style of written assignments in France. Students meet individually with a tutor once a week for an additional half–hour.

273a, 274b. Special Topics: University of Paris (1)

Students in the Paris Program have the opportunity to enroll in French university courses under the supervision of the resident director and receive Vassar credit.

275b. Internship (2)

Internship in a French governmental, civic or volunteer organization through cooperation with the Internships in Francophone Europe program. Special application procedure.