Undergraduate Courses
Graduate Courses

 French in Translation and French

FREN 2933 - Oral and Written Expression in French (Stuart)

Prerequisite: Completion of FREN 2320 or equivalent. Permission of instructor for those having completed only FREN 2020. Students having completed French 3032 may not take this course.

An intensive course designed to give students a better command of present-day spoken and written French. Class discussion of news articles on current events (French and international), including but not limited to politics, economics, education, language, and entertainment, and including some articles which class members choose. Mastery of advanced vocabulary, weekly graded written or oral assignments including one guided short exposé, several one-two page papers, oral and written quizzes, and a final exam. Consistent attendance and ACTIVE participation constitute 30% of the semester grade.

This course is designed for students who have not had an extended stay in a French-speaking country. Students who have participated in semester study-abroad programs must confirm placement and transfer credit with the instructor to avoid duplication. Students who have studied in a French speaking country for a year should enroll in FREN 3034 or above.

FREN 3030 PHONETICS - The Sounds of French (Saunders)

French 3030 is an introductory course in French phonetics, intended to present basic concepts in phonetic theory and teach students techniques for improving their own pronunciation. It includes an examination of the physical characteristics of individual French sounds, the relationship between these sounds and their written representations, the rules governing the pronunciation of “standard French”, the most salient phonological features of selected regional varieties (e.g. le français méridional), and much more. Taught in French. Counts for major credit in French and in Linguistics.


FREN 3031 - Intensive Grammar and Composition (Staff)

Prerequisite: Completion of FREN 2020 or 2320 or exemption from FREN 2020 by the Placement Test; or a score of 3 on the AP French language exam; or a score of at least 660 on the SAT. Required as preparation for all subsequent courses except FREN 2933 and FREN 3030.

This course offers an introduction to narrative writing in French. Emphasis is placed on writing, revision, and an intensive review of grammar rules as they apply to oral and written communication. A variety of assessment formats include compositions, presentations, short quizzes, dictations, and a mid-term and/or final exam. Preparation and active participation are essential to improve reading, writing, and speaking skills. The course is conducted in French.

FREN 3032 - The Writing and Reading of Texts (Staff)

Prerequisite: French 3031. This course is a prerequisite for all undergraduate courses on a higher level except French 2933 and French 3030.

This course will prepare students for upper-level French courses by introducing them to the skills necessary to analyze literature and to express ideas in a written and oral form. Specifically, students will read literary texts from a variety of periods; they will learn to identify the elements that authors use to construct these texts; and they will learn the technical terms used to analyze poetry, prose, and theater. Grading will largely depend on the student's development of an analytical perspective on literature and on the student's ability to compose well-structured papers in correct French. The minimum writing requirement is a total of 10-15 pages for the semester, with at least one paper assignment of 5 pages. In addition, students will be expected to participate actively in order to advance their speaking skills in French. All discussion, readings, and assignments will be in French.

FREN 3034 - Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French (Staff)

Prerequisite: Students must have completed French 3031 and French 3032 or their equivalent. Counts for major/minor credit.

An intensive course designed to improve more advanced students' oral and written language skills. Assignments include discussion on topics of current interest, presentations, translations, and compositions. All materials are French- or Francophone-related. The course focuses on language development in a Francophone cultural context, so students can get familiar with French and Francophone cultures and comfortable in expressing their viewpoints in French. Of course, consistent attendance and active participation are essential.


FREN 3041: Medieval and Sixteenth Centuries: Of Monsters and (Wo)Men (McGrady)

The premodern period pushed the limits of human experience. In the process, it introduced many of the laws, beliefs, and practices we hold as truths today. This class will study some of the most daring Francophone texts from the first six centuries of French culture. To understand the limits of love, friendship, family, community, and spirituality, these works recount the adventures of alienated and excluded identities– from bestial men, monstrous women, and Satan’s spawn to sexual predators and incestuous couples.

FREN 3042 -- The Ancien Régime (Tsien)

This course will present an overview of literature from the Ancien Régime period, most commonly associated with the reigns of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. Sometimes rebelling against church and state, sometimes flattering these institutions, the writers of this period sought above all to show the workings of human nature. In elegant and witty language, they explored the many possible outcomes that arose from conflicts between love, hypocrisy, family, vanity, and religion, among other factors. Readings for this course will include plays by Corneille and Molière, poems by La Fontaine and Voltaire, and other writings by the marquise de La Fayette, Pascal, and Diderot. 

FREN 3043 - Literature of the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Centuries: Great Books (Blatt)

Rather than focus on any single theme, movement, motif, or overarching problematic, this seminar will examine a few of the most admired and influential novels in the history of modern and contemporary French literature: from Honoré de Balzac’s tale of a young law student’s drive to make it in the big city (Le Père Goriot) and Gustave Flaubert’s portrait of the original desperate housewife (Madame Bovary), to Albert Camus’ atmospheric L’Étranger, and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s scandalously puzzling La Jalousie. Tanguy Viel’s breathtaking 2006 thriller Insoupçonnable will round out the corpus and introduce students to one of the most talked-about young novelists of the last few years. 

Required work to include: active participation in class discussion, regular response papers (1-2 pages), an oral presentation, 2 longer papers (4-5 pages), and a final exam. Course conducted in French.

FREN 3043 - Literature of the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Centuries: Great Books (Hommel)

Ce cours est une introduction à la littérature française moderne. Nous nous intéresserons en particulier à cinq grands romans. Bien que ce cours ait pour objectif principal de vous faire découvrir les auteurs, les mouvements, et les styles narratifs ayant marqué le paysage littéraire français, nous chercherons également à aller au delà d’une simple lecture descriptive. Ce cours implique une participation orale active ainsi qu’un travail d’écriture régulier sur les oeuvres au programme.


Balzac – Le Père Goriot (1834)

Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary (1857)

Marcel Proust – A la recherche du temps perdu, Tome 1, Du côté de Chez Swann (1e partie: “Combray”) (1913)

Albert Camus – L’étranger (1942)

Marguerite Duras – Le Vice-Consul (1957)

FREN 3046 – African Literatures and Cultures (Drame)

This course will explore aspects of African literatures and cultures. It will focus on selected issues of special resonance in contemporary African life. Oral literature and its continuing impact on all other art forms. Key issues in French colonial policy and its legacy in Africa: language, politics, education. The course will examine the image of the postcolonial state and society as found in contemporary arts, paintings, sculpture, music, and cinema. Selections from painters like Cheri Samba (Democratic Republic of Congo), Werewere Liking (Cameroun) and sculptors like Ousmane Sow, including such popular icons as Mamy Wata and forms such as Souwere glass painting; from musicians like Youssou Ndour (Senegal), Cheb Khaled (Algeria), Seigneur Rochereau, Tshala Muana (DRC), Salif Keita (Mali), and Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde); from Mande, Peul, and Kabyle oral literatures in French translation; from filmmakers D.D. Mambety, Moussa Sene Absa, and Ngangura Mweze. Visit to National Museum of African Arts depending on availability of funding. The final grade will be based on contributions to discussions, a mid-term exam, 2 papers, and a final exam.

Selections from the following texts will feature among the required reading list:
Wéréwéré Liking - Statues colons
A. Sow - La Femme, la Vache, la Foi
D.T. Niane - Soundjata ou l'épopée mandingue
Amadou Hampaté Ba - Koumen

FREN 3585 - French Canadian Literatures and Cultures (Hommel)

Ce cours est une introduction aux littératures et cultures francophones du Canada (Quebec, Ontario, Nouveau-Brunswick et Nouvelle-Écosse) à travers la littérature et le cinéma. Depuis que Voltaire a dit du Canada qu'il ne valait pas quelques arpents de neiges, le Canada a su se faire entendre. Bien qu'il soit historiquement et culturellement lié au "Vieux Continent" et à "La Vieille France", le Canada est également une société du Nouveau Monde et partage avec les Amériques (les États-Unis, Les Caraïbes et le Mexique) une culture qui est davantage tournée vers le futur. Au programme: des oeuvres littéraires et cinématographiques créatives, rebelles qui ont fait beaucoup de bruit ou continuent d'en faire et qui révélent, surtout, la mosaïque de cultures franco-canadiennes d'un bout à l'autre du continent.


1. Louis Hémon, Maria Chapdelaine (1913)
2. Michel Tremblay, La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte (1978)
3. Jacques Poulin, Volkswagen Blues (1984)
4. Daniel Poliquin, L’Obomsawin (2000)
5. France Daigle, Petites difficultés d’existence (2002)

FREN 3585 - Aesthetic Revolutions and Cultural Currents (Krueger)

A course on the emergence of aesthetic and intellectual movements such as Romanticism, Naturalism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Decadence, Dadaism, Surrealism, Existentialism, and the new Wave. These movements represent engagement with or resistance to society, culture and events of their time. We will study examples of several “isms” (in text, painting, film) while exploring how they got their name, and what they reveal about French culture.
Course conducted in French. Prerequisite FREN 3032.

FREN 4035 – Tools and Techniques of Translation (Zunz)

Survey of the main tools and techniques of translation. Written and oral translation exercises to and from the target language. Selection of texts will vary. Taught in French.

Prerequesites: B+ average in FREN 3031, 3032, and 4031 or instruction permission.


FREN 4510 - Medieval Saint's Lives (Ogden)

In the Middle Ages, stories about saints were one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Transvestism, marvelous journeys to heaven and hell, spectacular sins and helpful animals were just a few of the exciting elements the authors used to draw their audiences in. For more sophisticated readers and listeners, they offered edgy commentaries on contemporary hot topics (e.g., virginity vs. marriage) and eternal issues (e.g., the conflicting goals of parents and children). Saints' Lives can thus tell us much not only about medieval theological concerns, but also about secular interests, literary trends, and the quest of both ecclesiastical and lay people to fulfill their spiritual and their terrestrial responsibilities. In this course, we will focus on French Lives written in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (including those of the wise Catherine of Alexandria, Marie l'Égyptienne the harlot, and Louis IX, king of France), but we will conclude with one or more recent works, such as Flaubert's "Légende de saint Julien l'Hospitalier" or Anouilh's Becket, to see what has become of medieval saints in the modern literary world.


FREN 4530 - Urbanity and conflict (Lyons)

Seventeenth-century French culture emphasized politeness. This is no surprise: for decades the French had been killing and maiming one another, and it seemed a good idea not to provoke more hostilities. Learning to laugh, practicising irony, and adapting to a new urbanity became themes of the works of major authors, who often show that conflict is not eliminated from society but rather transferred inward, into the hearts and consciences of heroes and heroines. Our readings will include works by writers such as Corneille, Lafayette, La Fontaine, La Rochefoucauld, Molière, and Racine. 

FREN 4586 - Reflections of the République: Contemporary France through Fiction and Film (Blatt)

Through an exploration of some of the most dynamic novels and films to have come out of France during the last twenty years or so, this seminar seeks to understand what it means to be “French” in France today. With the rise of multinational capitalism, the formation of the European Union, and the increasing demands of a steadily growing and ever more vocal immigrant community (one that is, paradoxically, no less marginalized), for the past few decades France has been suffering an identity crisis of sorts. In order to better grasp the root causes of this malaise culturel, as well as the larger stakes involved, we will focus on how issues like race, class, religion, gender, and ethnicity have figured into recent constructions of francité (loosely translated as “Frenchness”). Special attention will be paid to the ways filmmakers and writers choose to engage these issues (from the social realist tone of films like Ressources humaines, to the roman policier (Daeninckx), militant satire (Salvayre’s La Médaille), and the more allegorical style of Haneke’s Caché). Discussions will cover a range of topics including representations of the banlieue, racism, anti-semitism, unemployment, poverty, and the role that narrative has played in the country’s collective coming to terms with the traumas of the recent past (the Nazi occupation and the Algerian War, specifically).

Required work to include active participation in class discussion, regular film screenings, an oral presentation, regular short response papers (1-2 pages), and a final research paper (10-12 pages). Course conducted in French. 

Films may include: La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995), Bye-Bye (Dridi, 1996), Wesh Wesh, qu’est-ce qui se passé (Ameur-Zaïmeche, 2001), L’Esquive (Kechiche, 2004), La Petite Jérusalem (Albou, 2005), Chocolat (Denis, 1988), Caché (Haneke, 2005), Sans toit ni loi (Varda, 1985), Ressources humaines (Cantet, 1999), Ça commence aujourd’hui (Tavernier, 1999), Un hero très discret (Audiard, 1996).

Novels may include: Kiffe kiffe demain (Guène, 2004), Meurtres pour mémoire (Daeninckx, 1983), La Médaille (Salvayre, 2004), Daewoo (Bon, 2004) Prerequisite: successful completion of at least one 3000-level course in literature or cultural studies beyond 3032.

FREN 4811 – Intro. Francophone Literature of Africa (Drame)

Introduction to the Francophone literature of Africa; survey, with special emphasis on post- World War II poets, novelists, and playwrights of Africa. The role of cultural and literary reviews (Légitime Défense, L'Etudiant noir, and Présence Africaine) in the historical and ideological development of this literature will be examined. Special reference will be made to Caribbean writers of the Negritude movement. Documentary videos on African history and cultures will be shown and important audio-tapes will also be played regularly. Supplementary texts will be assigned occasionally. Students will be expected to present response papers on a regular basis. 
In addition to the required reading material, 2 essays (60%), regular class attendance, and contribution to discussions (10%), and a final exam (30%) constitute the course requirements. Papers are due on the dates indicated on the syllabus.
Required reading:
Diop, Birago. Les contes d’Amadou Koumba .
Chevrier, J. Anthologie Africaine: Poésie
Bâ, Mariama. Une si longue lettre.
Assia Djebar. Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (Toolkit).
Boudjedra, Rachid. L'escargot entêté.

FREN 4838 - Contemporary France (Horne)

Prerequisite: successful completion of at least one 3000-level course in literature or cultural studies beyond 3032.

French 4838 is designed to provide students with a background in social, cultural, political, and institutional aspects of contemporary French society in the context of recent history. We will first examine the role of geography, history, education, and politics in shaping contemporary French attitudes, cultural practices, and institutions since the Second World War.

We will then focus on important social questions facing contemporary France:

changing family structures, the role of women, religion, immigration, and France¹s place in the European union. Course materials include readings from the French press and other published sources, films, music, internet exploration, and radio and television broadcasts. The course strongly emphasizes oral participation and discussion, and students are expected to follow current events throughout the semester.


FREN 4581 - The Rewriting of History through Words and Images in Francophone Caribbean and African Literature and Cinema (Berard)

This course examines how contemporary Francophone Caribbean and African writers and filmmakers attempt to reevaluate the history written on slavery and colonialism by “official” historians from the Western world. Analysis of works by poets, novelists, essayists, and filmmakers from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Algeria and Senegal.


FRTR 4559/7588 French Caribbean: Cultural and Intellectual Currents (Berard)

Interdisciplinary co-taught course combining historical, anthropological, and literary approaches to the study of the French Caribbean islands.

Analysis of important periods in the history of French territorial expansion (including colonialism, slavery, decolonization, and the transformation of empire), of intellectual and cultural currents (Negritude, Antillanité, Creolité, and the Tout-Monde) shaping the French postcolonial world.


Graduate Courses

Advanced undergraduate students may enroll in graduate level courses with instructor permission.

FREN 5400/8540 – Literature of the Eighteenth Century I: A la Recherche de l'Amérique/In Search of America

Was the discovery of America a curse or a benefit to mankind? The American continent was a source of fascination, fear, and hope for the French Enlightenment. In this course, we will examine the different perspectives on North America by writers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Readings will include travel journals, descriptions of flora and fauna, and fanciful fictions involving "exotic" American characters. We will also focus on philosophical discussions of slavery, Native American civilization, the American Revolution, and the ethical consequences of colonialism, particularly in the Encyclopédie and in the works of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson. Assignments will consist of a 5-page literary analysis and a final research paper.

SAMPLE READINGS:Voltaire, L'Ingénu, Candide;"Etats-Unis," Encyclopédie méthodique; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia; La Hontan, Dialogues; Rousseau, Discours sur l'inégalité; Raynal, La Révolution de l'Amérique 

FREN 5812/8581 – New World Literature/Francophone Literature: De l’exil à l’ex-île: litteratures caribéenes de l’errance

Ce séminaire sur l’exil et l’errance dans la littérature caribéenne francophone vise à examiner les causes et les conséquences du déplacement, du voyage et du déracinement. Nous nous intéresserons à l’histoire passée des Antilles avec l’esclavage et l’arrachement à la terre mère africaine pour s’ancrer dans le Nouveau Monde, avant d’envisager l’histoire plus récente de l’immigration d’après-guerre et des mouvements de population toujours plus nombreux des Antilles vers l’Europe (et la métropole française) ou l’Amérique du nord pour bâtir un avenir meilleur ailleurs. Que signifie cet ailleurs? Qu’implique le fait de vivre en terre étrangère? Quelles sont les conséquences matérielles et psychologiques de cette migration caribéenne choisie ou subie? Les questions ayant trait à l’accueil, à l’hospitalité, au rejet et à l’exclusion tout autant que celle de l’impossible retour seront étudiées à travers des textes littéraires (Césaire, Condé, Pineau, Danticat, Laferrière, Pliya) et philosophiques (Fanon, Glissant, Derrida, Todorov) ainsi que des œuvres cinématographiques (Deslauriers, Maestrati, Saint-Eloy). 

FREN 5584/8584 – Topics in Cinema: Regards croisés

This course explores how metropolitan and colonial France, and later France and its former colonies, imagined one another through cinema over the course of the late 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries. Throughout this period, cinema has maintained a complex and evolving relationship to historical events and circumstances. We will examine the multiple declensions of the film form—state propagandist, scientific observer, subversive critic, sentimental apologist, formal innovator, poetic commentator, detached educator, and others—as it intersected with colonial and post-colonial histories. Drawing on questions emerging from recent scholarship in colonial history and historiography, as well as from post-colonial and film theory, we will explore the intertwined esthetic and political claims that come into play in these multiple cinematic representations of colonial realities and their legacies. We will examine a range of works from French and Francophone filmmakers from the late 19th century to the present, including five films from the M.A. reading list. 

FREN 5585/8555 – Topics in Civilization/Cultural Studies: Modern France in Global Perspective

This course proposes to examine key moments in French history since 1870 that are crucial to an understanding of France today. Rather than exclusively focusing on developments on the French mainland, we will broaden the spectrum of our vision to consider how France impacted, and was thought about by, those who lived well beyond its national shores. This wider global lens invites questions about France as an imperial power, but also about its reputation on a larger world stage. The country of revolution and the rights of man, France was also synonymous with Catholicism in many parts of the world, or with a model of sophistication and cultural refinement rooted in court society and marked, in the modern age, by the production and commerce of luxury goods. Its diplomatic traditions as well as its lively literary and artistic life also contributed to France’s prestige in the world. While the primary goal of this course will be to acquire a solid understanding of French political, social and cultural history, we will regularly explore these broader global reverberations because they too, defined France historically, and continue to define France today. Readings, in French and in English,will include modern historical writings, primary documents, and literary works. The themes of education, religion, and gender will be highlighted as will approaches to analyzing literature and literary form in historical context.