French

Fall 2007/Spring 2008 Course Catalog

The information below is taken from the printed catalog the college produces each year. For more up to date information, including links to course websites, faculty homepages, reserve readings, and more, use the 'courses' or semester specific link to your left.

French Language and Composition

01. Elementary French. This course features intensive work on French grammar, with emphasis on the acquisition of basic active skills (speaking, reading, writing and vocabulary building). We will be using the multimedia program French in Action which employs only authentic French, allowing students to use the language colloquially and creatively in a short amount of time. Three hours a week for explanation and demonstration, plus small sections with French assistants. This course prepares students for French 03.

For students without previous training in French. First semester: Senior Lecturer Nawar and Assistants. Second semester: Lecturer Uhden and Assistants.

03. Intermediate French. Intensive review and coverage of all basic French grammar points with emphasis on the understanding of structural and functional aspects of the language and acquisition of the basic active skills (speaking, reading, writing and systematic vocabulary building). We will be using French in Action, the multimedia program. Three hours a week for explanation and demonstration, plus small sections with French assistants. This course prepares students for French 05.

Requisite: French 01 or two years of secondary school French. First semester: Senior Lecturer Nawar and Assistants. Second semester: Lecturer Uhden and Assistants.

05. Language and Literature. An introduction to the critical reading of French literary and non-literary texts; a review of French grammar; training in composition, conversation and listening comprehension. Texts will be drawn from significant short stories, poetry and films. The survey of different literary genres serves also to contrast several views of French culture. Supplementary work with audio and video materials. Successful completion of French 05 prepares students for French 07, 08, 11 or 12. Conducted in French. Three hours a week.

Requisite: French 03 or three to four years of secondary school French. First semester: Lecturer Uhden. Second semester: Professor de la Carrera.

07. Contemporary French Literature and Culture. Through class discussion, debates, and frequent short papers, students develop effective skills in self-expression, analysis, and interpretation. Literary texts, articles on current events, and films are studied within the context of the changing structures of French society and France’s complex relationship to its recent past. Assignments include both creative and analytic approaches to writing. Some grammar review as necessary, as well as work on understanding spoken French using videotapes. Highly recommended for students planning to study abroad.

Requisite: French 05, or completion of AP French, or four years of secondary school French in a strong program. First semester: Professors Katsaros and Rockwell. Second semester: Professors Caplan and Hewitt.

08. French Conversation. To gain as much confidence as possible in idiomatic French, we discuss French social institutions and culture, trying to appreciate differences between French and American viewpoints. Our conversational exchanges will touch upon such topics as French education, art and architecture, the status of women, the spectrum of political parties, minority groups, religion, and the position of France and French-speaking countries in the world. Supplementary work with audio and video materials.

Requisite: French 05, or completion of AP French, or four years of secondary school French in a strong program. Limited to 16 students per section. First semester: Professors Caplan and Hewitt. Second semester. Professors Katsaros and Rockwell.

French Literature and Civilization
(French 11-19)

11. Cultural History of France: From the Middle Ages to the Revolution. A survey of French civilization: literature, history, art and society. We will discuss Romanesque and Gothic art, the role of women in medieval society, witchcraft and the Church, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the centralization of power and the emergence of absolute monarchy. Slides and films will complement lectures, reading and discussion of monuments, events and social structures. Conducted in French.

Requisite: French 05 or equivalent. First semester. Professor Caplan.

NOTE: Courses above French 12 are ordered by chronology and topics rather than by level of difficulty.

Medieval and Renaissance Literature and Culture (French 20-29)

20. Literary Masks of the Late French Middle Ages. The rise in the rate of literacy which characterized the early French Middle Ages coincided with radical reappraisals of the nature and function of reading and poetic production. This course will investigate the ramifications of these reappraisals for the literature of the late French Middle Ages. Readings may include such major works as Guillaume de Dole by Jean Renart, the anonymous Roman de Renart, the Roman de la Rose by Guillaume de Lorris, selections from the continuation of the Roman de la Rose by Jean de Meun, anonymous Fabliaux, and poetic works by Christine de Pisan, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Charles d’Orléans. Particular attention will be paid to the philosophical presuppositions surrounding the production of erotic allegorical discourse. We shall also address such topics as the relationships between lyric and narrative and among disguise, death and aging in the context of medieval discourses on love. All texts will be read in modern French. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. First semester. Professor Rockwell.

21. Medieval French Literature: Tales of Love and Adventure. The eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed social, political, and poetic innovations that rival in impact the information revolution of recent decades. Essential to these innovations was the transformation from an oral to a book-oriented culture. This course will investigate the problems of that transition, as reflected in such major works of the early French Middle Ages as: The Song of Roland, the Tristan legend, the Roman d’Eneas, the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes, anonymous texts concerning the Holy Grail and the death of King Arthur. We shall also address questions relevant to this transition, such as the emergence of allegory, the rise of literacy, and the relationship among love, sex, and hierarchy. All texts will be read in modern French. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Rockwell.

24. Studies in Medieval Romance Literature and Culture. The study of a major author, literary problem, or question from the medieval period with a particular focus announced each time the course is offered. The topic for spring 2006 is “Dante Alighieri.” A reading of the Divine Comedy with an eye to the social and philosophical implications of Dante’s allegorical practice. Readings, discussions, and papers will be in English.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Rockwell.

27. Humanism and the Renaissance. Humanists came to distrust medieval institutions and models. Through an analysis of the most influential works of the French Renaissance, we shall study the variety of literary innovations which grew out of that distrust with an eye to their social and philosophical underpinnings. We shall address topics relevant to these innovations such as Neoplatonism, the grotesque, notions of the body, love, beauty, order and disorder. Readings will be drawn from the works of such major writers as: Erasmus, Rabelais, Marguerite de Navarre, Montaigne, Ronsard, Du Bellay, Maurice Scève and Louise Labé. The most difficult texts will be read in modern French. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor Rockwell.

Seventeenth- and Eighteenth - Century Literature and Culture (French 30-39)

30. The Doing and Undoing of Genres in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. This course explores the formation and transformation of various genres in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, with a particular focus announced each time the course is offered. The topic for spring 2006 was “Comedy.” Readings include texts by Corneille (L’Illusion comique), Molière (Le Médecin malgré lui, Le Tartuffe, Le Misanthrope, Le malade imaginaire), Marivaux (La Double Inconstance, Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard) Beaumarchais (Le Barbier de Séville, Le Mariage de Figaro). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Caplan.

35. Lovers and Libertines. Passion and the art of seduction, from Mme. de Lafayette’s La Princesse de Clèves to Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le noir. We will focus on the oppositions between romantic love and social norms, passion and seduction. Both original masterpieces and their filmic adaptions will be considered. Sample reading list: Mme. de Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Prévost, Manon Lescaut; Casanova, Histoire de ma vie; Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses; Mozart/da Ponte, Don Giovanni; Stendhal, Le Rouge et le noir. Conducted in French.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Caplan.

37. The French Enlightenment. An analysis of the major philosophical, literary, and artistic movements in France between the years 1715 and 1789 within the context of their uneasy relationship to the social, political, and religious institutions of the ancien régime. Readings will include texts by Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Condillac, and others. To gain a better sense of what it might have been like to live in eighteenth-century France, we will also read essays in French cultural history. Supplementary work with film and slides. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor de la Carrera.

38. The Republic of Letters. An exploration of Enlightenment thought within the context of the collaborative institutions and activities that fostered its development, including literary and artistic salons, cafés, and the Encyclopédie. We will read texts by Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and others, drawn from the domains of literature, memoirs, and correspondence. To get a better idea of what it might have been like to live in the eighteenth century and be a participant in the “Republic of Letters,” we will also read a variety of essays in French cultural history. Supplementary work with films and slides. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor de la Carrera.

39. Worldliness and Otherworldliness. Many eighteenth-century writers imagined and invented other, better societies. To attenuate their criticisms of the social, political, and religious structures of the ancien régime, they also had recourse to the viewpoint of fictional “outsiders” who arrive in France as if for the first time and describe what they see in minute and telling detail. We will analyze the role that these “other” worlds and the “otherworldly” point of view played in the development of eighteenth-century thought and literature, as well as some of the repercussions that these questions have had in twentieth-century thought. Readings will include Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes, Rousseau’s Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité, Diderot’s Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, and Madame de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne, as well as Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and a selection of essays by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor de la Carrera.

 

Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture
(French 40-49)

42. Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature. Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Katsaros.

 

43. Agents Provocateurs: Scandalous French Artists, from Baudelaire to Céline. “Merdre!” This is, famously, the opening word of Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu-Roi. First performed in 1897, Ubu-Roi illuminates in retrospect a key aspect of nineteenth-century French literature. Since the Romantics, French literature had been saying “Merdre!” to its bourgeois readers with remarkable consistency. From the bohemian to the poète maudit, from the dandy to the decadent, the art of provocation reached its peak in nineteenth-century France. In this course, we will explore the various aspects, meanings, and purposes of this strategy. We will examine the various forms of literary, artistic, and theatrical provocation, as well as their historical and critical significance. We will ask how and why the artist and the bourgeois were set up as enemies, and what effect this conflict has had on theories of artistic creation. We will also try to understand why the myths of the artist invented in the nineteenth century (such as the dandy, the bohemian, and the provocateur) still form an essential part of the critical discourse on the arts today. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor Katsaros.

Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture (French 50-59)

50. Contemporary French Literature: Crises and Transformation. A study of contemporary French literature and culture focusing on the twentieth-century novel. The course focuses on the long series of novelistic experiments, both narratological and ideological, which begin around the time of the First World War and continue feverishly through the existential novel and the New Novel of the seventies and eighties. Our readings will include critical theory as well as works of such major authors as Marcel Proust, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Claude Simon, Michel Butor, Nathalie Sarraute, Marguerite Duras, Monique Wittig and Patrick Modiano. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or the equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Hewitt.

51. French Cultural Studies. This course studies the shifting notions about what constitutes “Frenchness” and reviews the heated debates about the split between French citizenship and French identity. Issues of decolonization, immigration, foreign influence, and ethnic background will be addressed as we explore France’s struggles to understand the changing nature of its social, cultural, and political identities. We will study theoretical and historical works, as well as novels, plays and films.

Second semester. Professor Hewitt.

52. Modern French Autobiography. This course studies the tortuous relationships between fact and fiction as famous French writers focus on their own lives. We will study how identities are constructed through gender, class and race, and will discuss identity formation (and its breakdown) through certain literary and philosophical theories (existentialism, New Novel theory, modernism, Marxism, postmodernism, postcolonialism). After briefly considering passages from Rousseau’s model autobiography, Les Confessions, we turn our attention to twentieth-century authors such as Marguerite Duras, Nathalie Sarraute, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Leiris, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maryse Condé, Roland Barthes, and Louis Althusser. Assignments will include one creative essay in which students write on a personal experience using narrative strategies discussed in class. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. First semester. Professor Hewitt.

53. Literature in French Outside Europe: Introduction to Francophone Studies. (Also Black Studies 22) This course will explore cross-cultural intersections and issues of identity and alienation in the works of leading writers in the French-speaking Caribbean. Our discussions will focus on the sociopolitical positions and narrative strategies entertained in key French Caribbean texts of postcolonial literature (both fiction and critical essays). Issues involving nationalism, race, gender, assimilation and the use of Creole will help to shape our discussion of how postcolonial subjects share in or distinguish themselves from certain tenets of Western thought. At issue, then, is the way French Caribbean literature and culture trace their own distinctiveness and value. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Hewitt.

54. War and Memory. Through readings of short fiction, historical essays, drama and films, we study how the French have tried to come to terms with their role in World War II, both as individuals and as a nation. We will explore the various myths and deconstructions concerning French heroism and guilt, with particular attention paid to the way wartime memories have become a lightening rod for debate and discord in contemporary French culture and politics. No prior knowledge of the historical period of the war is necessary, but students of French history are welcome. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—French 07, 08, 11, 12 or the equivalent. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Hewitt.

Special Courses (French 60-69)

60. Masterpieces of French Literature in Translation. In this course we will read a variety of French literary works from the eighteenth century to the present. Readings may include Voltaire’s Candide, Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons, Charrière’s The Letters of Mistress Henley, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Balzac’s Cousin Bette, Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Zola’s Nana, or The Ladies’ Paradise, Proust’s Swann in Love, Camus’ The Plague or The First Man, Duras’ The Lover. We will study these works first as masterful stories, but we also will consider questions of cultural and personal influence, including sexuality and class. We will also learn why most of these works were judged politically or morally scandalous when they came out. For instance, special attention will be paid to the trials and censorship of Baudelaire and Flaubert. Finally, we will study some films inspired by these texts, and learn how different media can treat the same subject. Conducted in English. (French majors will be encouraged to write their papers in French, and to read a portion of these works in French).

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Rosbottom.

61. European Film. A study of issues concerning European film, with a particular focus announced each time the course is offered. In spring 2005 the course provided an introduction to French film from the 1930s to the present. Among the directors and films covered were: Jean Renoir (Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game), Marcel Carné (Hôtel du Nord), Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le flambeur), Alain Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad), François Truffaut (The 400 Blows), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, My Life to Live, Contempt), Robert Bresson, Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, Léos Carax (Lovers on the Bridge) and Mathieu Kassovitz (Hate). The course serves as an introduction to film analysis. Conducted in English.

Second semester. Professor Caplan.

62. Dangerous Reading: The Eighteenth-Century Novel in England and France. (Also European Studies 36 and English 48.) See European Studies 36.

First semester. Professors Rosbottom and Frank.

63. Three Masterpieces of French Literature in Translation. This course seeks to read and study in depth a small number of important narrative or poetic texts of early modern to contemporary France. The purpose is to do close readings of both the selected texts and the socio-political and other cultural trends that were dominant at the time they were written and published. One might read Laclos’ Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) and delve into the currents of pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary thought and events that would place this important book in a richer context. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857) would allow the students to learn about the increasing cultural and financial influence of the bourgeoisie and the Second Empire’s attempt to censor this novel juridically. Finally, reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927) permits addressing, among other social phenomena, the effects of the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War on French culture in the early 20th century. Conducted in English. (French majors who wish to count this course toward fulfillment of requirements will write some papers in French and read a portion of these works in that language.)

Second semester. Professor Rosbottom.

ADVANCED COURSES (French 70+)

70. Advanced Seminar. An in-depth study of a major author or literary problem from specific critical perspectives. The topic for fall 2006 is “Ousmane Sembene: The Works of a Militant Artist.” Entirely devoted to the works of Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, this course will explore the defining moments of his life, his participation in European leftist organizations, and the dominant features of his works and their significance within African cultural discourse. Our discussions will focus on four main themes: (1) the experience of exile in Le docker noir, La noire de…, and Lettres de France; (2) the question of history in Les bouts de bois de dieu, Emitaï, l’Harmattan, and Camp de Thiaroye; (3) political and social issues found in Le mandat, Xala, Guelwaar and Le dernier de l’empire, Moolaade, and Faat Kine; and (4) the quest for a genuine African aesthetics in both literature and film. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following: French 7, 11, 12 or the equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2007-08.

77, 78. Senior Departmental Honors. A single and a double course.

First and second semesters. The Department.

97, 97H, 98, 98H. Special Topics. Independent Reading Courses. Full or half courses.

Approval of the Department Chair is required. First and second semesters.

Related Course

Birth of the Avant-Garde: Modern Poetry and Culture in France and Russia, 1870-1930. See Colloquium 36.

First semester. Professors Ciepiela and Katsaros.

 

Barrett Hall