The work of the seminar will focus on in-class discussions of assigned literary and critical texts. Written assignments for this class will include a midterm paper (3-4 pages) and a longer (7-8 page) final paper. Other written assignments will include short response papers on assigned readings and a semester-long creative project.
FRENCH 205 (Fall)
Literature and Film in Cultural Contexts
Discussion of modern literature and film in their cultural contexts. Training in techniques of literary and cultural analysis. Materials include novels, short stories, poetry, films, screenplays and videos from France and the Francophone world. Vocabulary building and review of key points of grammar. Frequent written practice. Attention to oral skills and listening comprehension as needed. Prerequisite: 202 or 203, an SAT II score of 600-640, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 3.
Students who have taken French 202 and wish further language training should take French 205, emphasizing reading and writing, before moving on to other 200-level courses. French 205 is also recommended for incoming students who place as indicated above and who would benefit from some grammar review and special attention to writing prior to further literature or culture courses.
A transition course from basic language acquisition at the intermediate level to the study of literature, film and culture
, French 205 provides a review of key points of grammar, vocabulary building and help with writing as well as an introduction to techniques of literary and cultural analysis. It will also help build reading skills. Although the emphasis is on reading and writing, oral comprehension and speaking will not be neglected. Active participation in class discussion is essential. Short papers will be assigned throughout the semester.
The literary, film and cultural selections will cluster around four pivotal moments or movements of the past century: la Belle Epoque, World War II and the Resistance, feminisms in France and other Francophone countries, colonialism and post-colonialism.
Works studied include:
François Truffaut: Jules et Jim (film and screenplay)
Poetry from La Belle Epoque (Guillaume Apollinaire, Nathalie Clifford Barney, Lucie Delarue-Mardrus)
Vercors: Le Silence de la mer (novella and film)
Pierre Sauvage: Les Armes de l'Esprit (film)
Colette: La Femme cachée (short stories), in conjunction with La Belle Epoque and feminism in the 1920’s and 1930’s
Feminist manifestoes of the 1970’s
Négritude and anti-colonial poetry from Africa
Albert Camus: L'Exil et le Royaume (short stories)
Gillo Pontecorvo: La Bataille d'Alger (film)
Assia Djebar: excerpts from Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement
FRENCH 206 (Fall & Spring)
Intermediate Spoken French
Practice in conversation, using a variety of materials including magazine articles, short stories and films. This course is designed to develop oral proficiency and listening comprehension
, with necessary attention to the other skills—reading, and writing. Prerequisite: 202, 203, or 205, an SAT II score of 650-680, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 4.
Throughout the semester, special attention is given to the idiomatic expressions, forms of speech and pronunciation. In addition to the reading and study of magazine articles and short stories, extensive use is made of French short films. Class time is entirely devoted to conversation and a wide variety of activities is proposed to increase students’ vocabulary, improve pronunciation, fluency and comprehension. At the end of the course, students’ oral and listening skills are substantially developed.
Calanque d’en Vau, Cassis
FRENCH 207 (Spring)
Perspectives on French Culture and Society:
French Identity in the Age of Globalization
In this introduction to French society and culture, we will examine France's identity crisis at the beginning of the twenty-first century. From its historical position of political, economic, and intellectual leadership in Europe and the world, France is searching to maintain its difference as a defender of quality over mass appeal and the proud values of its national tradition in the face of increasing globalization. Topics covered include Franco-American relations, the European Union, immigration, the family, and the role of women in French society. Readings are drawn from a variety of sources: historical
, sociological, and ethnographic. Magazine and newspaper articles along with television programs and films will provide supplementary information. Prerequisite: FREN 202, FREN 203, or FREN 205, an SAT II score of 650-680, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 4.
Given the comparative perspective of this course, we will begin by studying American stereotypes of the French as well as French stereotypes of Americans. Next, we will explore the way in which the French define themselves, examining such topics as French attitudes toward their language, geography, and history, as well as toward the state, money, and food. We will then continue our survey of contemporary French society and culture, taking care to situate issues of current interest within an historical framework. The major challenge facing the French today is related to the globalization of their culture and economy. Franco-American relations as well as France’s role in the European Union are the product of French attitudes toward its past: witness the recent “hamburger wars” of a few years ago and even more recent debate about Iraq. The impact of immigrant culture, in particular, Islamic culture, has led to the emergence of a multicultural identity which challenges the traditional notion of “France, une et indivisible,” inherited from the French Revolution and reinforced by the republican school system, established in the 1880s. The meritocratic discourse of the republican schools still resonates today, although these schools seem to reinforce social inequalities rather than transcend them. Women, too, in spite of egalitarian rhetoric, lag behind their European sisters in terms of representation in French politics
, although legislation has been passed recently to help rectify this situation. All in all, France faces many difficult problems in the twenty-first century.
Wylie et Brière, Les Français (textbook)
Articles from the French and American press
Films: La Haine, Entre les murs, La Vie rêvée des anges; L’Auberge espagnole, Etre et avoir
Assignments: Three short papers on a film or text studied in class and a final research paper.
FRENCH 209 (Fall)
Studies in Literature:
Topic: The Paris of Poets
A study of the city of Paris as urban inspiration for French poetry, with an emphasis on speaking and writing skills. This course explores the visual arts, culture and history of the City of Light as represented and celebrated through French poetry. Special attention is paid to Parisian artistic and poetic life from the late nineteenth-century to the present. Prerequisite: FREN 202, FREN 203, or FREN 205, an SAT II score of 650-680, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 4.
Please note that the distribution for FREN 209 is Language and Literature or Arts, Music, Theatre, Film, Video.
The Paris of Poets explores French poetry directly inspired by the centuries of architectural, cultural, even political layers that compose the urban landscapes of Paris. Spiraling outward like some massive snail shell, each of Paris’s twenty arrondissements has been touched by the writings of the French poets that we will read: (among many others) Baudelaire, whose “Le Cygne” is set in the Tuileries Garden (1er arrondissement), Senegalese poet Léopold Senghor’s “Luxembourg 1939” (5e arrondissement), Théophile Gautier’s « L'Obélisque de Paris » (8e arrondissement), Raymond Queneau’s “Rue Paul-Verlaine” (13e arrondissement), and contemporary poet Jacques Réda’s « Hauteurs de Belleville » (20e arrondissement). Other poems we will read crisscross Paris and its banlieues. The poetry of Paris has equally inspired and been inspired by some of the greatest paintings and sculptures in the holdings of Paris museums, thus a part of our course is devoted to exploring the special relation between the painters, sculptors and poets of Paris through the ages. The course emphasizes learning how to read a poem (both out loud and analytically). Short papers will be assigned through the semester. Intensive participation in class discussion is expected. There will be one short final project.
Texts: A Reader will be made available for this course.
FRENCH 210 (Fall)
French Literature and Culture Through the Centuries
Topic: From the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment
Major authors from the Medieval period through the Enlightenment studied in their historical and cultural contexts, with emphasis on close reading, critical analysis, and writing in French. Attention to literary genres, including the constraints and innovations they engender, and study of key notions that will inform students’ understanding of French literature and history—galanterie, courtoisie, mimesis, poetics, epistolarity, Salic law, French Wars of Religion, the Edict of Nantes, and Absolutism. We will end with consideration of pre-revolutionary works
, anticipating the rise of the French Republic.
Prerequisite: At least one unit of FREN 206, FREN 207, FREN 208, FREN 209 or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
For students entering after 2014, FREN 210 and FREN 211 each fulfill the 200-level requirement for the major, for study abroad, and for all French Department courses at the 300 level. Majors should consult with a member of the French Department to determine which course best suits their needs
In tracing the literary portrayal of France’s turbulent emergence as a nation, we will begin with Charlemagne’s defeat of the invading Moors and end with Voltaire’s call for religious tolerance and the abolition of State-run torture. With these works marking our trajectory, we will explore how literature from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries shaped visions of the past—and the nostalgia for a past that perhaps never was—in order to organize the present.
Topics will include:
the memory and misremembering of French foundational moments in La Chanson de Roland and Rivette’s Jeanne d’Arc.
portrayals of civil war chaos and the glorification of military heroes in La Princesse de Montpensier and Cinna.
the textual creation of monuments and eye-witness accounts in the essays of Montaigne and Voltaire and in l’Heptaméron.
narratives of travel to and from the French kingdom’s borders in Les Regrets, Lettres portugaises, and L’Ingénu.
Our ultimate aims are, first, to familiarize students with texts from the early modern French canon; and, second, to better understand how fiction, in conversation with political ideology, religious doctrine, and literary genre can (re)create national history.
La Chanson de Roland
Du Bellay, Les Regrets; Défense et Illustration de la langue française
Marguerite de Navarre, L’Heptaméron ( “Amadour et Floride”)
Montaigne: Les Essais “Des Cannibales,” “De la Clémence,” “De l’Utile et de l’honorable,” and “Des Coches”
Lafayette, La Princesse de Montpensier
Guilleragues, Lettres portugaises
Voltaire, L’ingénu and L’Affaire Calas (excerpts)
Jacques Rivette, Jeanne D’arc
FRENCH 210 (Spring)
French Literature and Culture Through the Centuries
Topic: From the Enlightenment to the Present
Major authors from the eighteenth century to the twentieth studied in their historical and cultural contexts, with emphasis on close reading, analysis, and writing in French. Enlightenment writers like Montesquieu and Voltaire champion science and empiricism, and mount a frontal challenge to the authority of monarchy and church. Others (Diderot, Rousseau) foreground emotion, sensuality and aesthetic experience, explored later and in greater depth by Romantics like Hugo and Chateaubriand. The Realist writers Zola, Balzac, Flaubert and Maupassant reject the emotionalism of the Romantics and focus on the realities of everyday life in the 19th century. The twentieth century unveils its own revolutionary innovations—the Surrealists, Proust’s magnificent A la Recherche du Temps perdu
, ground-breaking experiments in the theater (Beckett, Ionesco) and the stark responses of Sartre and Camus to the disillusionments of the Second World War. French writing from the newly liberated colonies (Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire) will bring our survey to a close. Prerequisite: At least one unit of 206, 207, 208, 209 or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
For students entering after 2014, FREN 210 and FREN 211 each fulfill the 200-level requirement for the major, for study abroad, and for all French Department courses at the 300-level. Majors should consult with a member of the French Department to determine which course best suits their needs.
This course aims to approach French literature from an historical perspective. We will examine significant works from major periods, allowing us to understand how society, and more specifically, literary sensibilities have changed throughout the centuries.
We will begin with selections from Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes
, which contains acerbic criticism of the Ancien Régime that anticipates, in a way, the upheaval at the end of the 18th
century. The works of the “Philosophers” (e.g. Voltaire’s Candide
) and of other authors of the period (e.g. Beaumarchais’ Le Mariage de Figaro
) will provide us with avenues to discuss the ideals of the French Revolution of 1789.
In our selections from the 19th
century (Balzac’s Sarrasine
and Flaubert’s Un Cœur simple
), we will focus on various aspects of prose narrative. In poetry, we will discuss how Baudelaire’s aesthetic novelty influenced a whole new sensibility recognizable in other genres as well.
Finally, we will begin our study of 20th
-century texts with poems by Apollinaire, the play Les Chaises
by Ionesco, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Le Mur
. We will discuss Sartre’s idea of existentialism and his preoccupation with the individual’s responsibility in making choices.
From our own era
, Mariama Bâ’s Une si longue lettre
is a novel that implicates the personal, the female, and the autobiographical. We will also focus on colonial legacies in the former French colonies, and the issues of women’s struggles in a non-western context.
Voltaire, Candide; Montesquieu, Lettres persanes; Beaumarchais, Le Mariage de Figaro
; Flaubert, Un Cœur simple
; Baudelaire (selections); Apollinaire (selections); Sartre, Le Mur
; Ionesco, Les Chaises
; Bâ, Une si longue lettre
The prerequisites for all 200-level French courses numbered from FREN 210 on up
are the same. These upper 200-level French courses may be taken in any order.
Students preparing to spend their junior year in France or a Francophone country
should take FREN 211 as soon as possible.
FRENCH 211 (Fall & Spring)
Studies in Language
Comprehensive review of French grammar, enrichment of vocabulary, and introduction to French techniques of literary analysis
, composition, and the organization of ideas. Open to first-year students if they have taken one of the prerequisite courses. Prerequisite: At least one unit of 206, 207, 208, 209 or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
We will study fundamental concepts and techniques of analysis as they apply to French literature. Students will practice reading different literary genres in depth, including poetry, the short story and the novel. Students will learn to identify ways in which these texts are organized and the techniques an author uses to convey meaning. Students will be introduced to the techniques of the “explication de texte”, the “commentaire composé” of prose and poetical texts, and the “dissertation” (formal French essay).
Students will be acquiring a critical vocabulary for the analysis of texts and will learn to refine their writing style through intense practice. They will learn to write proper introductions and conclusions and to organize their ideas in a manner appropriate to each writing assignment. We will develop the linguistic means necessary for organizing the presentation of information, for putting ideas together, and for bringing more precision and nuance to writing. Finally, we will learn to improve writing style by incorporating new grammatical structures in compositions.
Chapters of the grammar book that introduce new notions will be thoroughly presented; grammar points students have learned at the intermediate level will be reviewed in detail and presented in the context of more complex analytical approaches. Students will learn how to use their grammar book as a reference guide—a “tool” to be used by each student according to her/his specific needs. Students will also learn how and where to find specific grammatical information.
by Denise Rochat
By Denise Rochat in My Frenchlab
by H.Jay Siskin, Cheryl L. Kruger, Maryse Fauvel
by Annie Ernaux
FRENCH 213 (Fall)
From Myth to the Absurd: French Drama in the
An investigation of the major trends in modern French drama: the reinterpretation of myths, the influence of existentialism, and the theatre of the absurd. Special attention is given to the nature of dramatic conflict and to the relationship between text and performance. Study of plays by Anouilh, Cocteau, Giraudoux, Sartre, Camus, Ionesco, Beckett, and Genet. Prerequisite: At least one unit of FREN 206, FREN 207, FREN 208, FREN 209, or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
This course will first look at how modern drama appears with the revolutionary importance given to the “mise en scène” and then will offer students the opportunity to study some of the most important and influential works of French drama since 1900 and to acquire at the same time a knowledge of the major literary and philosophical trends of the twentieth century: symbolism, surrealism, existentialism, and the absurd.
The class will examine not only the ideas expressed in each play but also its “mise en scène” and the author’s use of theatrical language. Attention will be given to the particular social, political, and aesthetic context of the plays and to the formal qualities of different dramatic genres: tragedy, comedy, tragi-comedy, and farce.
Written and Oral work
Regular preparation of an analysis of the plays and discussion in class. Two short papers (one on Anouilh and Cocteau, one on Sartre and Camus), one paper in class (Giraudoux), an oral exam for which the students will be encouraged to learn a part of a play (Beckett, Ionesco, Genet) or discuss a topic (Beckett, Ionesco, Genet) and a final exam (Claudel, Beckett, Ionesco, Genet).
Works to be studied
Jean Cocteau, La machine infernale (LDP, 854)
Jean Anouilh, Antigone (Didier, La Table Ronde)
Jean Giraudoux, La Guerre de troie n’aura pas lieu (LDP 945)
Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mains Sales (Gallimard, Folio))
Albert Camus, Les Justes (Gallimard, Folio)
Paul Claudel, L’Annonce faite à Marie (Gallimard, Folio)
Samuel Beckett, En attendant Godot (Macmillan)
Eugène Ionesco, La Leçon (Gallimard, Folio)
Jean Genet, Les Bonnes (Gallimard, Folio)
Fin XIXe début XX: importance de la mise en scène en Europe
Antonin Artaud: extraits de quelques écrits sur le théâtre
Alfred Jarry, Ubu roi, extraits
FRENCH 218 (Fall)
Women in Postcolonial "French" Africa: After Négritude
Male elites in postcolonial Africa dominated the independence era with liberation movements such as "négritude." Women's position in both public culture and private spaces was ambiguous, rapidly changing, even contentious. Our study of a variety of media, while placing literary texts at the center, will seek to understand more fully, the role of women in the Francophone context and in postcolonial nations more widely. Prerequisite: At least one unit of FREN 206, FREN 207, FREN 208 [2012-13], FREN 209 or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
“Négritude” is the term used to identify the poetics and politics of a group of young African and African diasporic writers who came together as university students in Paris in the early twentieth-century. The names associated most notably with that cohort are: Aimé Césaire from Martinique, Léon Damas from French Guyana, and Léopold Sédar Senghor, who went on to be Senegal’s first president. Studying these writers will provide the base for our critique of early Francophone literary creation and the politics of independence from a feminist perspective. The stark demarcations between white and black of the colonial period are played out in Ferdinand Oyono’s novel, Une vie de boy
, whose central character tests out the meanings of being “French” African at the height of the colonial period. We will watch scenes from the film Chocolat
to think about the actual subjective experiences of the contrast and contradictions of the white-black divide in colonial Africa.
Studying the writings and life of the revolutionary historical figure of Frantz Fanon will allow us to understand many aspects of the position of colonized women during his lifetime (1925-1961), and especially during the period leading up to the time when many French colonies were preparing for independence through revolutionary struggle. Fanon provides an interesting focal point for such a study: we will explore the place of women in both his native Martinique (which became a French Overseas Department) and in the space of his primary revolutionary activity, which was Algeria, when the war of independence broke out. In this section of the class we will read from Fanon, but also from a relatively unknown Martinican woman writer, Mayotte Capécia, whom he criticized in an effort to understand race relations under colonialism in the French Creole island of Martinique. Fanon analyzed the culture of his childhood and youth as being over-determined by colonial culture. While his early work attempts to revise and surpass such severe limits on his existence and that of the youth of his time, it is often ruthlessly gender blind. Our critique will focus on this blind spot as we explore the creativity of women in the Creolized colonial world. Alongside readings from Fanon and Capécia we will also watch the delightful film, Sugarcane Alley
, which will allow us to explore, beyond Capécia’s biographical text, the multiple ways in which women were negotiating the same period. Our study of Caribbean culture and its relationship to metropolitan French culture will involve looking at French advertisements and some works on the history of the period. The classic film, Bataille d’Algiers
, will allow us to focus on the events of the Algerian war of independence, while we will critique the historical representation made of those events and of the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale) in the film. The film gives us a dramatic scene from which will ensue our discussion of the role of women in the war and soon after. Fanon’s famous essay on the veil provides textual entry into the question. Assia Djebar’s Les enfants du nouveau monde
provides a fictionalized literary account of the role of women in that war. We will end the class with two less serious contemporary films that raise these issues in France. In Café au lait
, the métisse (mixed-race), Lola, is pregnant and one of her two lovers is the father: is it Jamal, the son of African immigrants, or Félix, a young Jewish Frenchman? In Banlieu 13
, which includes many chases, stunning parkour
scenes, and a plot that does not rely on the spectator’s belief, a ruffian of North African descent, Leito, and a white undercover cop
, Damien Tomaso, team up to infiltrate a ghetto which is mostly inhabited by immigrants and the poor. The two characters are to diffuse a bomb that would destroy the entire community. The films allow us to open up the question of colonization in contemporary France
alongside issues of gender and immigration.
Les Arènes d’Arles, amphithéâtre romain d’Arles
FRENCH 222 (Fall)
French Cinema from the Lumière Brothers to the Present: The Formation of Modernity
This course offers a critical panorama of French cinema while also building essential vocabulary and critical concepts for film analysis. Students will pay specific attention to the various connections between cinema, urban space
, and notions of modernity. Close analyses of clips in class will also lead to a deeper appreciation of genre and technical aspects in the history of cinema. Filmmakers studied will include the Lumière Brothers (for the “perspective” model), Georges Méliès (for the cinema of attraction), Jean Renoir (for depth of field), Robert Bresson (for literary adaptation), Jean-Luc Godard (for traveling shots and direct sound), and Chris Marker (for documentary). Prerequisite: At least one unit of FREN 206, FREN 207, FREN 208 [2012-13], FREN 209, or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
What has evolved within the project of modernity is the establishment of a way of imagining and representing space
, as well as the space/society relation which underpins the material enforcement of certain ways of organising space, and consequently, society. Among various factors of material enforcement, cinema, “the last machine” in Hollis Frampton’s words, embedded the attempt to invent
appropriated space-producing events and forms. The relation between cinema and social space is not merely one of representation or recording; on the contrary, cinema is constitutive of social space, it has a seminal role in producing the space for a “reading” public. In other words, cinema exists and functions as a cast of the modern mind.
The complex relationships between cinema and modernity, as well as their inscription in urban life, are particularly salient in the history of French cinema. Moreover, French film theory and criticism played a seminal role in the development of French cinema. This course will analyze the formation of modern self and society by following the history of French cinema from 1895 to the present. Weekly screenings will also provide material for building film analysis vocabulary.
Readings will include articles from film journals Cahiers du Cinéma
and contemporary cinephilic blogs, as well as introductory theoretical texts on French film culture and French film history.
Screenings will include:
René Clair, Paris qui dort
Jean Vigo, L’Atalante (1934)
Jean Renoir, La Règle du jeu (1939)
Robert Bresson, Pickpocket (1959)
Jean-Luc Godard, À bout de soufflé (1960)
Paris vu par… (1965)
Agnès Varda, Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962)
Jacques Tati, Playtime (1967)
Mathieu Kassovitz, La Haine (1995)
Olivier Assayas, Irma Vep (1996)
Abdel Kechiche, L’Esquive (2003)
Claire Denis, 35 Rhums (2008)
Assignments include weekly postings on the Sakai forum, a mid-term in-class written examination and a final paper.
FRENCH 226 (Spring)
Speaking through Acting
Improvement of French oral skills and public speaking skills through the use of acting techniques. Intensive analysis of short literary texts and excerpts from several plays with emphasis on pronunciation, diction, elocution, acting, and staging. Prerequisite: At least one unit of FREN 206, FREN 207, FREN 208 [2012-13], FREN 209, or above, an SAT II score of 690-800, an equivalent departmental placement score, or an AP score of 5.
In this course, students will improve their pronunciation of the French language through the study of French phonetics and corrective phonetics. Phonetic exercises will be done on line. Students will also work on improving the intonation and the rhythm of their French.
In class, students will work on their diction and elocution. They will learn exercises used by actresses and actors at conservatories to improve their breathing and articulation, and to adjust the pitch of their voice. They will also learn ways to become more confident with their French by using both speech and gestures in improvisation exercises and by performing short texts or excerpts of plays.
Students will read and analyze those classical and modern texts (prose and poetry) from the 17th to the 21st century. It will be essential that students first gain a deep understanding of these texts prior to interpreting and performing them.
This course is especially useful to students preparing a teaching certificate or going abroad for their junior year.
Intensive participation in class is expected. Each individual presentation in class will be graded. There will be one mid-term and one final oral exam.
Excerpts from classical and modern texts (prose and poetry) from the 17th to the 21st century
Traité pratique de la diction française
Grammaire de diction française
Nouveau solfège de la diction
La lecture par le jeu dramatique
, Grosset-Bureau, Christophe, Isaac.
Sons et Intonations
– Exercices de prononciation, Martins & Mabilat, Didier.