French and Francophone Studies 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. 

All courses are conducted in French except FREN 186.

Programs

Major

Correlate Sequence in French and Francophone Studies

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.

French and Francophone Studies Correlate Sequence

French and Francophone Studies: 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.

Enrollment limited by class. Open to seniors by permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have previously studied French.

Yearlong course 105-FREN 106.

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.

Enrollment limited by class. Open to seniors by permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have previously studied French. Students should go on to FREN 205 after successful completion of 106.

Yearlong course FREN 105-106.

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

109b. 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.

Not offered in 2015/16.

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

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 freshman writing seminar looks at literary or cinematic chance meetings that occur in three kinds of locales: the bar, the street, and the café. With each story or film we examine, we'll learn something about France and its relation to certain regions, while considering "place" itself as a critical concept. After viewing Michael Curtiz's film Casablanca, set in French-occupied Morocco, our explorations take us to nineteenth-century Paris in works by George Sand and Guy de Maupassant, to French Indochina in Marguerite Duras' The Lover, to twentieth-century Montreal in works by Liliane Dévieux and Dany Laferrière, to Tahar Ben Jelloun's present-day Tunisia, then back to Paris 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.

French and Francophone Studies: II. Intermediate

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

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: FREN 105-FREN 106, or permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken a course at or above the FREN 206 level.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

Three 50-minute or two 75-minute periods; 50 minutes 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.

Prerequisite: FREN 205 or permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken a course at or above the FREN 210 level.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

Three 50-minute or two 75-minute periods; 50 minutes 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." The course solidifies proficiency skills and includes review and expansion of more complex linguistic structures, and serves as preparation for upper 200-level courses. The department.

Prerequisite: FREN 206 or the equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

Two 75-minute periods; 50 minutes 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: FREN 210 or equivalent.

Enrollment limited by class. Placement test required.

228a and b. Tellers and Tales (1)

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

Prerequisite: FREN 210 or FREN 212 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

230a and b. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

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

Prerequisite: FREN 210 or FREN 212 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

231a and b. 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: FREN 210 or FREN 212 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two-75 minute periods.

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 2015/16b: The Worlds of Madame Bovary. Censored by the government on moral and religious grounds, Flaubert's 1857 novel Madame Bovary is considered today to be an important document for the reading of modernity in France, a great example of the conflicts surrounding the feminine in the nineteenth century, and a "master text" of French literature. The novel is also relevant to contemporary questions of material culture, desire and the feminine, the individual and society, and literary production. Taking Madame Bovary as our central focus, we read Flaubert's masterpiece in conjunction with some of the novels, images, and texts from the everyday press that informed the culture that produced its heroine and that she fictitiously and famously consumed herself. The principles of simultaneous readings and the juxtaposition of genres that organize this course offer a unique perspective into both what Emma read and the influence of mass culture on the production of the literary masterpiece. We also consider how Emma's readings and character persist into the twentieth century by taking up some later incarnations of this novel in both film and text. This class serves as both an exploration of narrative forms and an introduction to the practice of interdisciplinary cultural analysis. Ms. Hiner.

Prerequisite:  FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

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. Celerier.

Prerequisite:  FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor .

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. Andrews (a), Ms. Kerr (b).

Prerequisite: FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

241a and b. 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: FREN 210 or FREN 212 or the equivalent.

Not offered in 2015/16.

242b. Studies in Genre I (1)

Study of narrative and prose forms including  the novel, autobiography, and the essay.

Topic for 2015/16b: Mirrors of Ink. The course studies the literary practice of écriture de soi in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A malleable and versatile instrument for discovering or masking past personalities through role-play and reinvention, autofiction permits the transformation of the self through the looking-glass of narrative, whether to explore new horizons, confront inner torment, or flee adversity. The art of reflecting one's own story by adopting another persona invites innovative and resourceful storytelling. The inscription of the avatar is retraced in the works of Borgès and Doubrovsky and explored in several compelling modern novels and novellas in which writers enter a hall of mirrors of their own devising. Authors may include Azouz Begag, Maryse Condé, J. M. G. Le Clézio, Amélie Nothomb, Marie Ndiaye, Patrick Modiano. Mr. Andrews.

Prerequisite: FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

243a. Studies in Genre II (1)

Studies of dramatic and lyric forms, including theater, poetry, and song
 
Topic for 2015/16a: Standing Room Only. French and Francophone theater is alive and well, nourished by the talents of a new generation of authors, actors, and directors. This multimedia workshop showcases artistically ambitious works of the 21st century that have played to full houses around the world.  Students read texts written for the stage, watch screen adaptations, and compare filmed performances.  Emphasis placed on oral participation.  Authors studied this year:  Yasmina Reza, Jean-Michel Ribes, Marie NDiaye, Joël Pommerat, and Wajdi Mouawad.  Ms. Kerr.
 

Prerequisite: FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

244a. French Cinema (1)

Prerequisite: FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

(Same as AFRS 246)

Prerequisite: FREN 212 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a. Field Work (0.5 to1)

298a or b. Independent Work (0.5 to1)

One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. The department.

French and Francophone Studies: III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all advanced courses: 1 unit of 200-level work above FREN 210 or FREN 212, 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. Rotating topics courses may be taken more than once.

300a. Senior Thesis (1)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

301a or b. Senior Translation (0.5or1)

Open only to majors. One unit of credit given in exceptional cases only and by permission of the chair. The department.

302a. Senior Project (0.5)

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

303b. Senior Project (0.5)

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

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

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

348a. Modernism and its Discontents (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: 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.

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

Topic for 2015/16b: Voices of Change. The course studies major literary works and movements of the twentieth century as a series of defining moments that reflect and instigate social change. The city of Paris is considered as the epicenter of cultural, intellectual and artistic ferment on an international scale, where literary encounters flourish in cafés, salons, and cabarets, generating new philosophies, magazines, and manifestos. Authors may include Colette, Gide, Césaire, Beckett, Camus, Sartre, Duras, Condé, Le Clézio, and Modiano. Mr. Andrews.

One 2-hour period.

366a. Francophone Literature and Cultures (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: Ciné-vérité?  Narratives and French & Francophone Documentary Filmmaking. (Same as MEDS 366) The Francophone world has a rich and varied documentary film tradition ranging from René Vautier's Afrique 50 (1956), the first anticolonial film, to Alain Resnais' Nuit et Brouillard (1955), Marcel Ophüls' Le Chagrin et la pitié (1969), Nicolas Philibert's Etre et avoir (2002), Agnès Varda's Les Plages d'Agnès (2008), Moussa Sene Absa's Yoole, le sacrifice (2010), and Nadia El Fani's Même Pas Mal (2012). This seminar explores different genres of Francophone short- and feature-length documentaries including works of the historical, social and political varieties, the 'essai documentaire', the 'auto-documentaire' as well as Web and radio documentaries, and television Web-series. We use this palette of audio-visual essays as a springboard both to examine the specificities of this genre's form and the ways they interrogate the burning issues they seek to analyze, and to gauge the extent to which they frame -- and perhaps even define -- the French and Francophone cultures they depict. Ms. Patricia-Pia 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

378a. Black Paris (1)

(Same as AFRS 378 and ENGL 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.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

380b. Special Seminar (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: Inventing the Crime: Representations of Criminality in French and Francophone Literature and Film. The popularity of police procedurals, legal dramas, and detective stories attests to our collective fascination with narratives that concern criminality and the law. This course examines these intersections between textual and cinematic narratives in French and crime in various ways. Through the study of texts, films, and documents inspired by crime cases, students have the opportunity to study major literary movements and genres such as existentialism, surrealism, postcolonial literature and detective fiction. All the while, we analyze questions of gender, race and class in relation to crime to begin to understand how dominant ideas about criminality can help to shape a cultural identity. Authors may include André Gide, Albert Camus, Kamel Daoud, Marguerite Duras and Claire Denis. Ms. Brancky.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)

One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the Chair. The department.