French and Francophone Studies Department

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. 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.

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 2011-12

184b. From Francophiles to Freedom Fries: our Love-Hate Relationship with France (1)

While the city of Paris and the French countryside have inspired some of the most vibrant and enjoyable writing in modern times, the French as a people have not always met with the same unmitigated enthusiasm. This course explores various literary works and films related to France and the French: spirited accounts of life in France by travelers and expats such as Janet Flanner and Adam Gopnik of New Yorkerfame, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. We deepen our exploration of France by reading (in translation) works by French writers such as Daudet, Maupassant, George Sand, Pagnol, Mauriac and Colette, who portray various French regions in tones ranging from lyrical to sinister. Finally, we analyze criticism leveled at the French by mostly English-speaking observers, but some French ones as well. All readings in English. Ms. Reno.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two -75 minute periods.

II. Intermediate

205. a 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.

206. a 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.

212. a 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.

213. a and b. Media and Society (1)

Topic for 2011-2012: Introduction to the analysis of current media through the study and discussion of 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. Mr. Andrews.

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

230a. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

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

Not offered in 2011-12

Two 75-minute periods.

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

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 the equivalent.

Two-75 minute periods.

Not offered in 2011/12.

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 2011/12

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. Ms. Celerier.

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. 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.

Two 75 minute periods.

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

Not offered in 2011/12.

243a. Studies in Genre II (1)

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

Topic for 2011/12a: Poetry, Theater and Songs for the Senses. This course is an Epicurean voyage in poetry, theater and song that teaches us to interpret works, please the senses, and feed the soul. By analyzing the range of sensory impressions and their synesthetic blends, we hear tragedy in verse, feel color in poetry, and see tone in music. We treat food in satire and farce, indulge in questions of form and performance in French lyric and eco-poetry, and unlock the rhythm of Caribbean rara. By inquiring into the mechanics of representation, we examine how writers create images through sound, learn to scan classical verse through rock music, and study dance and performance with Lully and Molière. Poets vary from Ronsard and du Bellay to Baudelaire, Rimbaud and René Char. Composers include Lully, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Rameau, Debussy, and Messiaen. Drama ranges from the Medieval farce Le Pâté et la tarte, a work from de Sade, and Yasmina Reza’s play Art. Mr. Parker.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

244a. French Cinema (1)

Not offered in 2011/12

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

Two 75-minute periods plus evening film screenings.

246. French-Speaking Cultures and Literatures of Africa and the Caribbean (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 246) 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, advertising, 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.

Not offered in 2011/12.

289b. Designing Women: Power, Castles, and Writing Early Modern France (1)

Traditional histories of politics, the visual arts, and literature in early modern France tend to downplay or distort the contributions women made in these fields. So much so that, to this day, little is known about the dozens of royal, noble, and bourgeois women who populated the political, philosophical, literary, and visual landscapes of France with their writings and patronage of art and architectural projects. Yet, as recent scholarship has shown, not only did women of privilege participate in the revival of the arts and the political changes of the Renaissance and seventeenth century, they also had incisive, powerful messages to communicate through their works. In this course, we survey the writings of women such as Christine de Pizan, Marguerite de Valois, Mlle de Scudéry, Mlle de Montpensier, Mlle L’Héritier de Villandon and Mme d’Aulnoy. Their works include essays, memoirs, novels, letters, and fairy tales that address the desires and concerns women shared at the time, many of which still strike us as urgent today. At the same time, we examine the political role of queens, princesses and royal mistresses such as Anne de Bretagne, Renée de France, Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Médicis and Marie de Médicis, who, just as their male counterparts did with Versailles, Chambord, and Fontainebleau, built palaces and castles to affirm certain images of political and/or personal power. Ms. Mariñez.

Two 75-minute periods.

Prerequisite: another 200-level course above 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

Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 1 unit of 200-level work above French 212 or French 213, or Study Abroad in France or in a French-speaking country, or by permission of the department. Open to freshman and sophomores by permission of the instructor.

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)

Not offered in 2011/12

One 2-hour period.

348a. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2011/12a: Fashion’s Empires. This course examines the emergence of fashion as one of French modernity’s most complex and ideologically charged discourses. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we consider the historical and cultural evolution of fashion in France from the end of the Old Regime to the early twentieth century. From the spectacle of Marie Antoinette’s fashion excesses to the new chic of Coco Chanel’s simplicity, the course explores the ways in which fashion and its representation in both text and image operated on gender, society and national identity in France’s modern age. Studying literary texts next to historical documents, illustrations, real objects, and works of fashion theory, our analysis reveals fashion’s central and powerful role in French culture. Authors studied may include Scribe, Girardin, Balzac, Feydeau, Zola, Goncourt, Mallarmé, Proust, Colette, Triolet, alongside illustrators and fashion writers. Ms. Hiner.

One 2-hour period.

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

Topic for 2011-12: The Beast Within: Animals in French Literature and Culture. While stepping into the shower one day, the French philosopher Jacques Derrida felt oddly embarrassed to realize his cat was watching him. What does it mean, he wondered, to share the planet or indeed one's own household with animals? We read passages from Derrida's L'animal que donc je suis (1998) while exploring representations of the animal world both before and after the emergence of evolutionary theory. Special attention is paid to ways in which national or cultural identity depends fundamentally upon an identity that distinguishes us from "the beastly." Expressive forms include poetry, fiction, manifestos, painting (including the Lascaux cave paintings) and film. Other readings include selections from Buffon's Histoire naturelle, Jonathan Gottschall and David Sloan Wilson's The Literary Animal, and Louise Robbins'Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris. Ms. Hart.

One 2-hour period.

366b. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2011/2012b: Aimé Césaire:A Voice for LIBÉRATION. This seminar examines the work of Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), a seminal voice of the Négritude movement and a defining intellectual presence at the core of postcolonial studies. One of the founding editors of Présence Africaine, Césaire upended Western paradigms of "civilization" and disrupted the belief in the positive effects of the French colonial legacy. From his Discours sur le colonialisme, to his plays on Haïti and the Congo, Césaire's radical vision set the course for the evolution of contemporary thought and continues to influence new generations. Ms.Celerier.

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

380b. Special Seminar (1)

Topic for 2011/12b: Sugar, Slaves and the French Atlantic. This seminar explores the tension between purity and “mixture” in the French imagination, and inquires into how the evolution of this relationship led to successive framings of French colonies, slaves and the goods they produced. From pre-Revolutionary France, where this dialectic was at the center of a nexus of sugar, slavery, and empire, to the Enlightenment and an ever-greater ambivalence towards slavery, we explore the ethical problematics set in motion by French colonization and trade practices. By investigating paradigms as diverse as luxury, libertinage and monstrosity, we discover a literary culture grappling with material desires and fears of mixing. We crisscross the Atlantic with readings of texts from both metropolitan France and the new world, in particular, Haiti and Louisiana, where we find new literary and cultural iterations of this dialectic in the Creole language, métissage and material as mixed as Haitian vaudou and New Orleans gumbo. Authors include Descartes, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Claire de Duras, Doin, de Staël, paired with activists and ethnographers such as Toussaint Louverture and Charles-César Robin. Mr. Parker

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.