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. Two units must be elected at the 300 level from the group French 332, 348, 355, 366 or 380.  No courses in French elected after the declaration of the major may be taken under the NRO.

Senior-Year Requirements: Two units at the 300 level. This requirement is distinct from, but may overlap with the 300-level requirement for concentration stated above.

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 and 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 2013/14.

186a. 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

The intermediate level comprises a third-semester level (French 205), a fourth-semester level (French 206), a fifth-semester level (French 210), and a sixth-semester level (200-level courses numbered above 210). Prerequisite for all sixth-semester courses: completion of French 210 or the equivalent. Students desiring an introduction to the study of literature and culture may begin by electing French 212.

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 210 level.

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

210a and b. The Francophone World Through Text, Sound, and Image (1)

Introduction to the Francophone world and to basic modes of interpretation and analysis 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 includes a grammar workshop, vocabulary building, essay writing, image analysis, and “explication de texte.” Review and expansion of more complex linguistic structures and proficiency skills serve as preparation for the TCF exam, and upper 200-level courses. The department.

Prerequisite: French 206 or equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

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

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

Introductory study of French and Francophone literature and cinema through the analysis and discussion of poetry, short fiction, theater, the essay, and film. Biographical information, cultural context, historical background, critical theory, and the evolution of genre are explored. The department.

Prerequisite: French 210 or equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

228a. Tellers and Tales (1)

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

Prerequisite: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

230. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

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

Prerequisite: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two-75 minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

232. 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: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

240a and b. Grammar and Composition (1)

A course designed to improve written expression through the study and practice of various forms of writing, readings, and oral practice as well as an in-depth study of major aspects of French grammar. Mr. Reyes (a), Mr. Andrews (b).

Prerequisite: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

241. 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: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2013/14.

242. 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.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

243. Studies in Genre II (1)

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

Prerequisite: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

244. French Cinema (1)

Prerequisite: 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods plus evening film screenings.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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

(Same as Africana Studies 246) Topic for 2013/2014b: What Does 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 francophone 'bédéistes' (cartoonists) from and on Africa, such as Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's Aya de Yopougon, Edimo-Simon-Pierre Mbumbo'sMalamine, un Africain à Paris, Pahé's La vie de Pahé, Serge Diantantu'sSimon 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: French 210 or 212 or the equivalent.

Two 75-minute periods.

280b. Black Majesty: Fashioning the First King of Haiti (1)

Topic for 2013/14b:Can Western political power be wielded by black bodies and still be perceived as legitimate?. The question seems immanently close to us now but it is a question that has long haunted Haitian history in general and its first monarch in particular. Though “1804” is rightly celebrated as the year in which Haiti declared its independence from France and established the first nation in the New World free of slavery, the euphoria faded as the new nation was divided into two contiguous states: the Republic of Haiti to the South and the Kingdom of Haiti, led by King Henri Christophe, to the North. This multidisciplinary course analyzes the reactions by commentators from throughout the Atlantic world to the controversial rule of the black nineteenth-century monarch. In our reading of legal decrees, documents of the royal press, Haitian histories both past and contemporary, travel journals, Caribbean literary texts, modern political theory, and post-Earthquake memoirs, we examine the various, and radically differing, meanings that have been affixed to Christophe over the past two centuries. Throughout the course we interrogate the uses—and potential abuses—of theorizations of Haitian history for Western and Caribbean narratives and seek to determine why it is this monarch, over and above many of Haiti’s other heads of state, that has found himself at the center of so much literary and historical reflection. Mr. Reyes.

Two 75-minute periods.

Prerequisite: French 212 or equivalent.

284a. A Taste of Terroir: French Methodologies for Experiencing the Earth (1)

(Same as College Course 284) 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 Antiquity to the Renaissance and 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. Taught in English. A $35 enrollment fee for the tasting component will be charged to enrolled students. Mr. Parker.

Two 75-minute periods.

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 only by permission of the instructor.

300a and b. 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.

302a. Senior Project (1/2)

Senior Thesis Preparation. Course to be taken in conjunction with French 303. Only open to majors.

303b. Senior Project (1/2)

Senior Thesis. To be taken upon successful completion of French 302. Open only to majors.

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

Topic for 2013/14b: Crime and Punishment in Early Modern France. What was considered criminal behavior under French law from the Middle Ages to the Revolution, and why does it still matter today? Who determined guilt, and what kinds of punishments were inflicted? This seminar on crime, prejudice, and the struggle for civil rights examines from a modern perspective some of the most famous courtroom battles of history. It provides a look into the lives of heretics and rebels, enemies of the state, and hapless individuals caught up in the machinery of government. We read court transcripts and literary texts, explore cinematic adaptations, and analyze how modern scholars, film directors, and politicians have exploited these celebrated cases. Historical figures studied include Joan of Arc, Fouquet, Molière, Voltaire, Sade, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. Ms. Kerr.

One 2-hour period.

348a. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2013/14a: 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 Girardin, Balzac, Feydeau, Zola, Mallarmé, Proust, Colette, alongside illustrators and fashion writers. Ms. Hiner.

One 2-hour period.

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

Topic for 2013/14b: Foreign Lands, Inner Journeys. As of the nineteenth century, the French encountered other cultures on an unprecedented scale, due to colonialist expansion and an increase in tourism. Travel narratives and literary evocations of “local color” became popular, providing the reading public with an opportunity to learn about foreign lands and peoples. Yet travelers who write, and writers who travel, often express more about themselves than the cultures they purport to represent in their texts. Assumptions of national superiority, or dreams of a romantic “elsewhere” distort the traveler’s perception. Changes in geographical location may be accompanied by feelings of strangeness, leading the traveler to undergo an unexpected inner odyssey. As we explore the relationships between writing, displacement (both physical and psychological), and confrontation with an exotic “other,” we also consider real and imagined experiences of study abroad. Texts include novels, poetry, memoirs and essays from the nineteenth century to the present, and two films. Ms. Hart.

One 2-hour period.

366a. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2013/2014a: Paris at the Crossroads. Paris has been, and continues to be, celebrated as an enchanting place, a site of knowledge and sophistication, a cradle of democracy, and a refuge for exiles the world over. This course traces the evolution and treatment of Paris in works written by francophone authors originally from North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean, who live or have lived in the City of Lights. We analyze why and how their novels and short stories featuring the French capital manifest a frequently ambivalent relationship to France. From Bernard Dadié’s Un Nègre à Paris (1959) to Léonora Miano’s Blues pour Elise (2010), we identify the transformation of these writers’ positions vis-à-vis France’s dominant cultural and historical narratives. We discuss the key role they have played in the development of new aesthetics and a finer theorization of such notions as La France Noire and (post) beure. 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

378. Black Paris (1)

(Same as Africana Studies and English 378) This multidisciplinary course examines black cultural productions in Paris from the first Conference of Negro-African writers and artists in 1956 to the present. While considered a haven by African American artists, Paris, the metropolitan center of the French empire, was a more complex location for African and Afro-Caribbean intellectuals and artists. Yet, the city provided a key space for the development and negotiation of a black diasporic consciousness. This course examines the tensions born from expatriation and exile, and the ways they complicate understandings of racial, national and transnational identities. Using literature, film, music, and new media, we explore topics ranging from modernism, jazz, Négritude, Pan-Africanism, and the Présence Africaine group, to assess the meanings of blackness and race in contemporary Paris. Works by James Baldwin, Aime Césaire, Chester Himes, Claude McKay, the Nardal sisters, Richard Wright. Ousmane Sembène, Mongo Beti, among others, are studied. Ms. Célérier and Ms. Dunbar.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

380b. Special Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

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.