French and Francophone Studies Department

Chair: Christine Reno; Professors: Cynthia B. Kerr, Christine Reno; Associate Professors: Mark W. Andrews, Patricia-Pia Célérier, Kathleen Hartab, Susan HinerabAssistant Professor: Vinay Swamy; Post Doctoral Fellow: Thomas Parker; Visiting Assistant Professor: Sophie Marinez.

All courses are conducted in French except French 184.

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units in French, or 10 units in French above 106 and an additional unit taken outside the department, chosen in consultation with the major advisor. 3 units must be taken at the 300-level; 1 of these units must be French 332, 348, 355, 366 or 380. No courses in French elected after the declaration of the major may be taken NRO.

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: Study abroad is the most effective way to achieve linguistic and cultural fluency. Vassar College and Wesleyan University jointly sponsor a program of study in Paris. Majors in French and Francophone Studies are expected to participate in this program for one or two semesters during their junior year. Students electing a correlate sequence in French and Francophone Studies 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 and Francophone Studies 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: Students majoring in other programs may complement their study by electing a correlate sequence in French and Francophone Studies. Those interested in completing a correlate sequence should consult as soon as possible with a member of the department to plan their course of studies.

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. This unit should be French 332, 348, 355, 366, 370 or 380. 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.

*Part-time.

I. Introductory

105a. 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. While enhancing their communicative skills, students acquire knowledge of France and the Francophone world. The department.

Year-long course, 105-106.

Enrollment limited by class.

Open to seniors by permission of the instructor.

Not open to students who have previously studied French.

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

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. While enhancing their communicative skills, students acquire knowledge of France and the Francophone world. The department.

Year-long course, 105-106.

Enrollment limited by class.

Open to seniors by permission of the instructor.

Not open to students who have previously studied French.

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

109a. Basic French Review (1)

For students who have had some French but who are not yet ready for an intermediate course. Students learn to understand spoken French, to express simple ideas both orally and in writing, and to read French of average difficulty. While enhancing their communicative skills, students acquire knowledge of France and the Francophone world. The department.

Enrollment limited by class.

Placement test required. 

Students must successfully complete the proficiency exam at the end of the semester in order to satisfy foreign language requirement with this course.

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

Not offered in 2010-11.

II. Intermediate

205a and b. Intermediate French I (1)

Basic grammar and vocabulary acquisition. Oral and written practice using short texts, audiovisual and on-line resources. Enrollment limited by class. The department.

Prerequisite: French 105-106 by permission of the instructor or two years of French in high school. Not open to students who have taken a course at or above the 206 level. 

Enrollment limited by class.

Placement test required.

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

206a and b. Intermediate French II (1)

Emphasis on more complex linguistic structures. Reading, writing, and speaking skills are developed through discussion of cultural and literary texts and use of audiovisual material. The course prepares students linguistically for cultural and literary study at the intermediate level. The department.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

Prerequisite: French 106, French 205 or three years of French in high school. Not open to students who have taken a course at or above the 212/213 level.

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.

Enrollment limited by class.

213a and b. Media and Society (1)

Topic for 2011-2012: Introduction to the analysis of current French newspapers, magazines, television programs, recorded interviews, short literary texts, films and the Web. Ms. Hart.

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

Enrollment limited by class.

228b. Tellers and Tales (1)

Study of narrative fiction using short stories taken from several periods of French literature.

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

Not offered in 2010/11

230a. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

Studies in French literature, history, and culture from the Medieval to the Classical period.

Topic for 2010/11a: Legends Old and New. Tristan and Isolde, Le Cid, Don Juan, Cinderella, Puss ‘n Boots, Beauty and the Beast, patient Griselda, the outlaw poet, the woman who lives for love: these are all cultural archetypes that took shape, often from oral and ancient sources, in medieval and early modern literature, and live on to this day in literature, opera and film. We study the development of legendary figures and legends in Marie de France’s lais and fables, the twelfth-century romance Tristan et Iseut, the poetry of François Villon and Louise Labé, fairy tales and stories by Perrault and Mme Leprince de Beaumont, and larger-than-life characters from the repertoire of French classical theater. Ms. Reno.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

231b. 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.

Not offered in 2010/11.

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

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: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2010/11.

235a. Contemporary France (1)

This course offers a study of French society as it has been shaped by the major historical and cultural events since WWII. The main themes include Vichy France, de Gaulle's regime, the wars of French decolonization, the Mitterrand years, immigration, and the religious issues facing France today. The course draws on a variety of texts and documents including articles from the press and movies. Mr. Swamy.

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

Not offered in 2010/11.

240a. Study of French Grammar (1)

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

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. Enrollment limited by class. Mr. Andrews.

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

242a. Studies in Genre I (1)

Study of narrative and prose forms including the novel, autobiography, and the essay. Topic for 2010/11a: From Existentialism to Autofiction. The course studies ways in which storytelling has evolved in France and the Francophone world since World War II. It examines how narrative fiction, driven by social change, philosophical inquiry, and artistic experimentation, underwent a period of alienation and rejection of psychological realism in France, and how fresh novelistic perspectives on the everyday, and on the interplay of individual lives and concerns have emerged alongside cultural and political transformation in the post-Holocaust, postcolonial world. Authors may include Camus, Perec, Robbe-Grillet, Duras, Ernaux, Condé, Modiano, and Djebar. Mr. Andrews.

Two 75 minute periods.

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

243b. Studies in Genre II (1)

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

Topic for 2010/11b: Games People Play: French and Francophone Theater Workshop. On stage, the line between illusion and reality disintegrates. Characters play with each other’s minds. Playwrights tease their audiences into believing the truth of fantasy. This year’s workshop focuses on the theme of appearances in contemporary classics from the end of World War II to the present. Students engage in close readings of dramatic literature, view filmed professional productions, and work on scene presentations. Authors include Anouilh, Genet, Césaire, Hébert, Koltès, Ndiaye, and Reza. The course culminates in the representation of the apocalyptic, form-fracturing play 11 septembre 20001 by Michel Vinaver. Emphasis placed on oral participation. Ms. Kerr.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

244a. French Cinema (1)

Topic for 2010/11a: At the turn of the Millennium: France and Film. The last few decades of the twentieth century have seen many changes in the very fabric of French society. Focusing on films made in the last two decades, this course examines the various concerns of French society and its relationship with emerging “postcolonial” culture(s). By examining the representation of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race in these films, this course highlights the different processes by which the so-called “French” identity is constructed and can be (and is being) deconstructed. Mr. Swamy.

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)

(Same as Africana Studies 246b)Topic 2010/11: What Does Francophone African Comic Art Say? African comic art comes in a variety of styles, languages, and formats. From the comic strip, found in newspapers and magazines, to developmental and political cartoons, it interfaces with journalism, painting, advertizing, television, film and music. Having placed comic art in its theoretical context, we analyze the production of ‘bédéistes’ (cartoonists) from and on Africa, such as Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's Aya de Yopougon, Edimo-Simon-Pierre Mbumbo's Malamine, un Africain à Paris, Pahé's La vie de Pahé, Serge Diantantu's Simon Kimbangu, Arnaud Floc'h's La compagnie des cochons and Stassen Les enfants. We also examine how cartoon characters such as Camphy Combo and Gorgooloo, respectively in Gbich! and Le Cafard Libéré, represent the complexities of francophone African urban society at the turn of the century. Ms. Célérier Prerequisite: another 200-level course above French 206 or equivalent. Cross-listed with Africana Studies.

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

288b. French Utopian Adventures (1)

Punch your ticket and travel through the utopias of French literature. We voyage from early modern times, the golden age of utopia in France, visiting islands of political, social, and economic freedom, continuing on to strange worlds populated by even stranger characters that reveal the ethics, values, and ideals of French authors and their readers. We analyze past and present models of “perfection” conveyed through exoticism, nostalgia, futurism and, paradoxically, dystopia. We nuance our understanding with explorations of utopian art and architecture, urbanism, gardens, design, vehicles, and even food. More importantly, we deconstruct utopian narratives on French colonization, explore criticism of totalitarianism, and explain how utopian writing can create a critique of chauvinistic society. Authors include Cyrano de Bergerac, Gabriel de Foigny, Mme d’Aulnoy, Marivaux, Bernadin de Saint-Pierre, Chateaubriand, Jules Verne, and Francine Lachance. Genres include novels, fairy tales, short stories, comic books, films, a play, and a video game! Mr. Parker.

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

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

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.

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.

332b. Literature and Society in Pre-Revolutionary France (1)

Topic for 2010/11b: Masks and Mirrors in Seventeenth-Century France. Based on a multidisciplinary approach involving literature, cinema, music, and the visual arts, this seminar explores the radical transformations of vision that characterized the reign of Louis XIV. Reading fairytales, fables, plays, and private letters penned by the Sun King’s courtiers and courtesans, students examine politics as spectacle and literature as propaganda at a time when France, the most powerful nation in Europe, stood at the crossroads of the old and the new. They study the palace of Versailles, with its emphasis on décor, ceremony, fashion, and entertainment, as a metaphor for the theatricalization of life itself. An analysis of the literature of the period, highlighting romantic and political intrigue, unconscious duplicity, and willful inauthenticity, reveals how Louis XIV, brilliant magician and most absolute of monarchs, created an unparalleled theater state based on deception and illusion. Authors include Corneille, Molière, La Fontaine, La Bruyère, Perrault, and d’Aulnoy. Films by Rossellini, Mnouchkine, Planchon, Rappeneau, Corneau, Corbiau, and Tirard. Ms. Kerr.

One 2-hour period.

348b. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2010/11b: Paris Between the Wars .The course studies the interwar period in France between World War I and World War II (1918 - 1939) known as L'Entre-deux-guerres, and examines the rapid evolution of French literature during a period of radical experimentation in the arts in Paris and of growing tensions in the social fabric and political climate in Europe. Movements considered include Dada, Surrealism, Négritude, and Existentialism. Authors may include Proust, Gide, Colette, Apollinaire, Breton, Éluard, Césaire, Cocteau, and Sartre. Mr. Andrews.

One 2-hour period.

355b. Cross-Currents in French Culture (1)

Not offered in 2010/11. 

One 2-hour period.

366a. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2010/11a: Education and Ideology in (Post)colonial Francophone contexts. In this seminar, the theme of education in its various forms -- indigenous, colonial, republican, postcolonial, formal, informal -- serves as a focal point around which we can develop a discussion of the complex rapport that numerous cultures that have built with the French language. In examining presentations of different modes in which children and young adults are nurtured in (post)colonial Francophone contexts, the course elaborates on the intricate relationship between ideology (colonial or other), culture (French/Francophone) and the nation. Mr. Swamy.

Topic for 2010/2011b: The Detours of Experience: History and Memory in Postcolonial Francophone Literatures. In the past 20 years, memory has become a resurgent question as official versions of History have increasingly been brought under scrutiny. This course examines the representation of the past in a cross-section of contemporary francophone novels from the Caribbean, and North and West Africa. We analyze protagonists' new role as cultural mediators between personal and collective memory to reveal the silences of History and reconstruct forgotten experiences. We evaluate authors' treatment of the concept of narrator as witness. Finally, we look at the impact of memory on a new aesthetic of literary commitment. Authors studied include Marie-Célie Agnant, Nina Bouraoui, Boubacar Boris Diop, Tierno Monénembo, Gisèle Pineau, and Leïla Sebbar. Ms. Célérier.

One 2-hour period.

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. Kerr

380a. Special Seminar (1)

One 2-hour period and screenings.

Not offered in 2010/11

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.