French and Francophone Studies Department

All courses are conducted in French except French 186.

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 (VWPP). Majors in French and Francophone Studies are encouraged 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 counted toward French and Francophone Studies credit, 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.

Yearlong 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 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.

Yearlong 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 periods, 2 hours of drill and oral practice.

Students should go on to 205 after successful completion of 106.

109. 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 the foreign language requirement with this course.

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

Not offered in 2012/13.

186b. Meeting Places: Bars, Streets, Cafés (1)

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” This bitter observation, made by the owner of “Rick’s Café” in the 1942 American-made film Casablanca, is often misquoted as, “she had to walk into mine." Indeed, the unexpected encounter with a past acquaintance or stranger is a necessary catalyst that sets in motion the plot of many a novel or film. This course looks at literary or cinematic chance meetings that occur in three kinds of locales: the bar, the street, and the café. While studying bars, streets, or cafés as narrative meeting places, we simultaneously consider France’s relation to the larger “place,” or geographical region, in which each story of a chance meeting unfolds. After viewing Michael Curtiz’s film Casablanca, set in French-occupied Morocco, our explorations take us to the city of Paris in André Breton’s Nadja, to Amsterdam in Albert Camus’ The Fall, to French Indochina in Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, and then back to France with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain. Finally, we return to the film Casablanca, better equipped to understand why, if all roads lead to Casablanca, then all roads in Casablanca “must” lead to Rick’s Café. The course is taught in English. All works are read in translation. Ms. Hart. 

Open only to Freshmen. Satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

205a. Intermediate French I (1)

Basic grammar review 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, or permission of the instructor. 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 205 or permission of the instructor. 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 Literature and Film (1)

Introduction to the analysis of French and Francophone literature and cinema and to basic modes of interpretation. Study and discussion of poems, short stories, plays, essays, and films. The course serves as a preparation for upper 200-level courses. The department.

Prerequisite: French 206 or equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

213a and b. Approaches to Media and Culture (1)

Introduction to the analysis of media and culture and to basic modes of interpretation through the study and discussion of short texts (print or online magazine or newspaper articles, short stories, essays), films, and other visual or recorded media. The course serves as a preparation for upper 200-level courses. The department.

Prerequisite: French 206 or equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

228. Tellers and Tales (1)

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

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2012/13.

230a. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

Studies in French literature, history, and culture from the Medieval to the Classical period. 
Topic for 2012/13a: 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 Tristan et Iseut, the love poetry of Ronsard and Labé, La Princesse de Clèves, a story of illicit passion by France's first prominent female novelist, and classical theater's greatest masterpieces of love and deception authored by Corneille, Racine, and Molière. The course concludes with Denis Diderot's daring and celebrated narrative, La Religieuse, about a young woman's struggle for emancipation in pre-Revolutionary France. Ms. Kerr.

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

231. 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: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two-75 minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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. Topic for 2012/13b: Music and Text. From Bizet’s opera Carmen, inspired by Prosper Mérimée’s nineteenth-century novella, to modern cultural practices including rap, raï, slam, and environmentally focused sound recordings, the course examines literary language in relation to music. How does language “sing,” and what does music “say?” If music performs a “socially prescribed task,” as musicologist Richard Middleton proposes, then what do various combinations of music and language suggest about specific moments in French history? We address this question by considering music and literature both separately and together in relation to class, gender, ethnicity, and national identity. Readings include song lyrics, poetry by Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine, a play by Marguerite Duras, and fiction by Germaine de Staël and Jean-Paul Sartre. Required films are Edmond T. Gréville’s Princesse Tam-Tam, Jaco van Dormael’s Toto le héros, and Christophe Barratier’s Les choristes. Ms. Hart.

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

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. Célérier.

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

240a. Study of French Grammar (1)

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

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the 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: 212/213 or the equivalent.

242b. Studies in Genre I (1)

Study of narrative and prose forms including the novel, autobiography, and the essay. Topic for 2012/13b: Imaginary Biographies. The course examines the popular category of biographical fiction, one of the dominant forms of narrative invention in the twenty-first century. Contemporary authors have embraced the genre as a flexible and creative means of exploring their own links to the past, a relationship often complicated by social upheaval resulting from major catastrophes such as war, colonial oppression, or epidemics, but also by personal misfortune or transition on a more intimate scale. Original storytelling techniques and imaginative scenarios are deployed to uncover ways in which past and present intertwine to produce and contextualize individually tailored histories. We explore the origins of the genre and consider the evolution of modern narrative conventions in our study of several distinctive imaginary biographies. Authors may include: Azouz Begag, Maryse Condé, Marguerite Duras, Hervé Guibert, Patrick Modiano, Amélie Nothomb, Gisèle Pineau. Mr. Andrews.

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

243. Studies in Genre II (1)

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

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

244b. French Cinema (1)

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods plus evening film screenings.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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, 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, Christophe Ngalle Edimo and Simon-Pierre Mbumbo's Malamine, un Africain à Paris, Pahé's La vie de Pahé, Serge Diantantu'sSimon Kimbangu, Arnaud Floc'h's La compagnie des cochons and Stassen's Les enfants. We also examine how cartoon characters such those of Damien Glez, or Gbich!'s Camphy Combo and Le Cafard Libéré's Gorgooloo, represent the complexities of francophone African urban society at the turn of the century. Ms. Célérier.

Prerequisite: 212/213 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2012/13.

287b. Terroir, Wine, and Multidisciplinary Lessons on How the French "Taste" the Earth (1/2)

(Same as College Course 287) The French word “terroir” is a culinary term used to map the flavors in a food or wine to its specific origin. In the context of food assessment, terroir currently translates roughly to “the taste of the origin” or, more loosely, as “a sense of place,” but it has existed for over 500 years without an English equivalent. The term remains mysterious to most of the rest of the world as well, where countries and cultures have been slow to create a corollary. Terroir, in fact, is much more than a tasting methodology: It is a reflection of French visions of nationhood- how the French perceive themselves- in addition to how they understand, physically organize, and work land. While teaching students to appreciate wine responsibly and understand its significance in social and political contexts, this course illustrates the French notion of terroir and demonstrates how the specifics of agricultural place influence taste and identity. Taught in English. Mr. Parker.

Prerequisite: Open to Juniors and Seniors only, ages 20-21. Enrollment by special permission.

Second Six-Week Course.

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)

Topic for 2012/13b: The Rebirth of the Middle Ages. After centuries of neglect or disdain, the Middle Ages became an object of fascination and study beginning in the eighteenth century. The field of medieval scholarship began in earnest; Victor Hugo'sNotre Dame de Paris sparked the revival of interest in Gothic cathedrals and inspired the interpretive restorations of Viollet-le-Duc. Chivalry was reborn in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and spirituality was idealized in the works of Verlaine, Huysmans, Zola and Proust, among others. The twentieth century saw the revival of medieval theater, and medieval legends were brought to the screen as early as 1899. The course studies these phenomena and attempts to understand the enduring appeal of the Middle Ages for the modern imagination and the role of the medieval revival in the formation of French national identity. Ms. Reno.

One 2-hour period.

348a. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2012/13a: Modern Masterpieces. The course focuses on literary and artistic output in the twentieth century, taking Paris as its point of departure. We study a selection of works commonly viewed as masterpieces, and consider the evolution of a category both revered and repudiated as a window on the turbulent transformations of life and art during the period. Authors may include: Proust, Valéry, Gide, Saint-John Perse, Camus, Sartre, Becket, Duras. Mr. Andrews.

One 2-hour period.

355. Cross-Currents in French Culture (1)

Not offered in 2012/13.

366a. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2012/13a: 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 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.

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 2012/13b: A Taste of Terroir: French Methodologies for Experiencing the Earth. The uniquely French concept of "terroir" explains how the physiographic properties of the origin of a food or wine can be detected in its taste. Yet, although the French have "tasted the earth" through foods for more than 500 years, the idea remains problematic: some believe terroir to be more myth than science. This seminar queries the intersection between the science and myth of terroir, mapping the latter's evolution from the Renaissance to the French Revolution to the modern-day Parisian Restaurant. Along the way, we discover what terroir can tell us of French political theory, aesthetic appreciation, and an Epicurean philosophical movement subverted but never extinguished by Cartesian dualism. Other themes include: food and satire, the birth of connoisseurship, landscape theory, and the evolving dialect between nature and culture. Just as Proust used the flavors of the Madeleine to travel in time, we learn how the French use the psychogeographics of terroir to revisit forgotten places. Tastings accompany texts as we savor the fine line between science and figments of the French imagination. Mr. Parker.

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.