French Department

Professors: Elisabeth Cardonne-Arlyck, Cynthia B. Kerr, Christine Reno;Associate Professors: Mark Andrews (Chair), Patricia-Pia Célérier; Assistant Professors: Kathleen Hart; Susan Hinerab.

All courses are conducted in French except 182 and 248.

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units excluding 248, and 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 excluding 248, 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.
 
182a.   Living on the Margins
(1)
Artists, non-conformists, disadvantaged groups, and outcasts are sometimes said to "live on the margins" of society, inasmuch as their values, ways of thinking, and survival strategies may differ from those of the cultural mainstream. What does living on the margins entail? Who lives on the margins by necessity and who tries to do so by choice? We explore notions of marginality in the literature, film, and music of the French-speaking world from the nineteenth century to the present, focusing on issues of gender, race, class, and nationality. Authors may include Mariama Ba, André Breton, Albert Camus, Marguerite Duras, André Gide, and Camara Laye. Ms. Hart
       Open only to Freshmen.
       Two 75-minute periods plus films.
 
 

II. Intermediate

 
205a and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
[230b.   Medieval and Early Modern Times]
(1)
Studies in French literature, history, and culture from the Medieval to the Classical period.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
[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.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
232a.   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.
       Topic for 2002/03: Women in Contemporary French Society. The course focuses on the situation of women in modern France, considered from the perspective of their long struggle to achieve economic emancipation and political empowerment. Concentrating on the twentieth century, the course assesses the challenges faced by successive generations of women in realizing the promises of universal liberty, suffrage, and political rights made at the time of the French Revolution and repeated by subsequent Republics. Authors may include Michelle Perrot, Christine Bard, Georges Duby, Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux, Elisabeth Badinter, Alain Corbin, Simone de Beauvoir, Mona Ozouf, Michel Foucault, Gisèle Halimi, Janine Mossuz-Lavau, and Pierre Bourdieu.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
 
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).
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
 
240a.   Study of French Grammar
(1)
In-depth study of major aspects of French grammar. Grammar exercises, compositions, and oral practice. Ms. Cardonne-Arlyck.
       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. Mr. Andrews.
       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.
       Topic for 2002/03: Québécois Literature. French Canadians, political orphans after the defeat of the French in 1763, embraced their religious and linguistic heritage, which set them apart from the English victor. From the nineteenth century on, literature has played a fundamental role in shaping Québécois cultural identity. The course focuses on milestones in that process, and explores the extraordinary dynamism of Québec's literary community, which is the source of a richly diverse and vibrant literature and has attracted writers from elsewhere in Canada and the French-speaking world. Authors include Marie-Claire Blais, Anne Hébert, Jacques Poulin, Gabrielle Roy, Yves Thériault, and Michel Tremblay. Ms. Reno.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
 
243a.   Studies in Genre II
(1)
Study of dramatic and lyric forms including theater, poetry, and song.
       Topic for 2002/03: Acting French. This production course is designed to give students the opportunity to select and stage a major French or Francophone play taken from the classic or contemporary repertory. It is taught in the form of a workshop, with emphasis on improving oral skills through diction exercises and dramatic readings. Previous stagings have included works by Molière (Le BourgeoisGentilhomme), Jules Romains (Knock), Jean Anouilh (Antigone), Samuel Beckett(Fin de Partie), and Marie Redonnet (Mobie-Diq). Ms. Kerr.
       Prerequisite: special permission of the instructor.
 
244a.   French National Cinema
(1)
Since WWI, French cinema has defined itself as national: not only as an industry requiring protection, but as a cultural institution bearing French identity. Through the study of individual films ranging from the silent era to the present, we examine the interaction between the French and their cinema in terms of historical circumstances, economic constraints, aesthetic ambitions, and self-representation. Ms. Cardonne-Arlyck.
       Students in this course attend one weekly 75-minute class in English with students in 248a, but do the readings in French, attend a different 75-minute discussion period in French, and write papers in French.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
       Two 75-minute periods plus evening film screenings.
 
246b.   French-Speaking Cultures and Literatures of Africa and the Caribbean
(1)
       Topic for 2002/03: Crossing Borders: Francophone Women's Voices. In this course, we study contemporary works by Francophone women writers to come to a renewed understanding of the field of French-speaking literatures from North, West, and Central Africa and from Vietnam. We examine such issues as immigration, integration, legitimacy, and reconsider notions of social, national, (inter)racial, and sexual identity. We evaluate how the creative and often corrosive dynamism of these authors is expanding Francophone literatures beyond their imaginative constructs and political borders. Authors studied are Bessora (Belgium/Switzerland/Gabon), Calixthe Beyala (Cameroon), Fatou Dione (Senegal), Monique Ilboudo (Burkina Faso), Linda Lê (Vietnam/France), Kim Lefèvre (Vietnam/France), Leïla Sebbar (Algeria/France), and Ananda Devi (Mauritius). Ms. Célérier.
       Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.
 
248a.   French National Cinema
(1)
Since WWI, French cinema has defined itself as national: not only as an industry requiring protection, but as a cultural institution bearing French identity. Through the study of individual films ranging from the silent era to the present, we examine the interaction between the French and their cinema in terms of historical circumstances, economic constraints, aesthetic ambitions, and self-representation. Ms. Cardonne-Arlyck.
       Readings and discussions in English. May not be counted towards the French major or correlate sequence.
       Declared or prospective French majors, correlates, and students wishing to do the work in French, see French 244a.
       Two 75-minute periods plus evening film screenings.
 
298a or b.   Independent Work
(1/2 or 1)
One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. The department.
       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.
 
 

III. Advanced

 
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 2002/03.
 
348b.   Modernism and its Discontents
(1)
       Topic for 2002/03: Fears and Tears: Emotions in French Film. From early on, cinema has been defined by its ability to provoke mass emotions. In this course, which is topically rather than historically organized, we study the ways in which French filmmakers from the silent era to the present have dealt with cinema's emotional power. We see how they have represented emotions on the screen (Dulac's La Souriante Mme Beudet) or refused to do so (Bresson's L'Argent), and how they have induced emotions in the spectator (using close-ups to move and frighten, editing to create suspense, mise-en-scène to trigger laughter, etc). Focusing on fears and tears, we consider how the emotions that films arouse in us are bound up with the human face, the exchange of looks on the screen, and psychological processes of identification between viewer and viewed. Films include melodramas such as Becker's Casque d'or, Ophuls' Madame de, and Godard's Vivre sa vie thrillers such as Feuillade's Les Vampires and Franju's Les Yeux sans visageas well as unclassifiable films that call for conflicting emotional responses such as Renoir's La Règle du jeu and Pascale Ferran's Petits Arrangements avec les morts. Readings include film theory by Jean Epstein, Germaine Dulac, Christian Metz, Pascal Bonitzer, among others. Ms. Cardonne-Arlyck.
       One 3-hour period.
 
355a.   Cross-Currents in French Culture
(1)
       Topic for 2002/03: Beyond "Les Miz": Victor Hugo's Les MisérablesLes Misérables is one of the best selling novels of all time. When it was first published in 1862, it became an instant phenomenon in France. It was quickly translated and became a sensation throughout Europe and America. This seminar explores the many reasons for its enduring appeal: the interlocking themes of love and redemption, crime and punishment, order and chaos its memorable characters, including the ex-convict Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, Gavroche, and Javert, the implacable figure of Justice and its universal social relevance. Issues discussed include prejudice, revolt, and the struggle between Good and Evil both within the individual and within society. We study the life and enormously successful career of Victor Hugo as well as the dramatic historical events that shaped the novel. The course includes a close analysis of several film adaptations and concludes with a trip to Broadway to see the musical version of Hugo's novel and meet some of the performers. Ms. Kerr.
       Two 75-minute periods plus trip.
 
[366a.   Francophone Literature and Cultures]
(1)
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
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. Ms. Reno.
 
380.   Special Seminar
(1)
       Topic for 2002/03b: 21st Century Authors: The New Generation. The course examines the ideas, events, and creative forces that shape French narrative at the beginning of the 21st century. Through a reading of selected novels we consider the representation of modern cultural practices in the prose of contemporary authors. We investigate the influence of the marketplace in the promotion of new fiction and the emergence of the Internet as a vehicle for experimental engagement. The postmodern thinking of Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and Michel de Certeau provides a framework for our discussion of the relationship between reader and writer as consumer and producer. Novelists may include: Camille Laurens, Amelie Nothomb, Marie Darrieussecq, Marie Ndiaye, Annie Ernaux, Michel Houellebecq, Patrick Modiano. Mr. Andrews.
       One 2-hour period.
 
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.

 
245a.   Intensive Language/Bordeaux
(1/2 or 1)
The orientation session attempts to address most of the needs and worries of students studying for a semester or a year in Paris. In addition to offering an intensive grammar review that allows students to function at a much higher level in their classes in Paris, the Alliance Francaise also offers workshops placing a major emphasis on spoken French.
 
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.
 
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.
 
255.   Twentieth-Century French Theater
(1)
This course is a study of contemporary French plays and theoretical texts on theater, combined with attendance at plays currently on the French stage. Sartre's Huis Clos, as an example of existentialist and absurd theater, and Arthaud's Thÿÿtre et son double, is read and studied in depth. Three or four diverse plays are chosen from among those running during the current season to provide a panorama of contemporary trends in French theater. Students will read and study plays, attend productions, and discuss and critique them through written work and exposés.
 
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'sRêve de d'Alembert and Paradoxe sur le Comédien Voltaire's polemical writings. Mr. Chartier.
 
260b.   Studies in French Cinema.
(1)
       Topic for 2002/03: To be announced.
 
261b.   Nineteenth-Century French Sculpture
(1)
The course offers an introduction to French sculpture of the nineteenth century, beginning with the legacy of the eighteenth century, and tracing the evolution of sculpture from the Napoleonic Empire to the Republican era. The approach is chronological as well as stylistic and thematic. The course considers the genres of the commemorative monument and funerary statuary, and examines the issue of commercial reproductions. Three major figures of the period are emphasized: David d'Angers, Carpeaux, and Rodin. Authors include R. Wittkower, H. W. Janson, J. Hargrove, L. Benoist, and A. West. Mr. Jobert.
 
262b.   Special Topics
(1)
This course is taught by the resident director. Topics vary each year.
 
263b.   Power and Political Life in France and Europe
(1)
An analysis of the principal features of French and European political life, focusing upon institutions, major figures, and political agendas. Discussion centers on the nature of political power and specific consideration is given to the form and structure of European political regimes, the political stakes of the European construction, the power of interest groups, the reform of the welfare state, and the political treatment of minorities. Authors may include P. Bourdieu, P. Birnbaum, A. de Tocqueville, and M. Weber. Mr. Bollinger.
 
264b.   The French and "Modernity"
(1)
A study of French cultural practices, productions and models in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course follows the emergence of cultural "modernity" from the Revolution to the Republic and examines the gradual decline of religious and rural life, the challenges encountered by an academic and cultural elite, the cultural experiments of the avant-garde, and the democratization of culture through the rapid rise of consumerism and mass production. Major authors include Pierre Bourdieu, Roger Chartier, Michel Foucault, and Walter Benjamin. Ms. Kalifa.
 
265a or b.   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.
 
266a.   Politics and Society
(1)
The course undertakes a comparative study of French and American social and political systems. It examines the composition and role of the state in France and America, investigates the French and American revolutions, and explores central concepts of democracy, citizenship, immigration, race relations, and class distinction. Each nation aspires to a universal model their shared history is marked by close similarities and also profound divergences. Anti-Americanism in France and American perceptions of the French "exception" are discussed. Authors include A. de Tocqueville, D. Lacorne, E. Fassin, R. Knox, and A. Kaspi. Mr. Bollinger.
 
267a, 268b.   Twentieth Century 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 2002/03a: 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.
       Topic for Spring 2002/03b: 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.
 
269a.   Music and Culture
(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 and 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.