Undergraduate Courses

French in Translation and French

FREN 3031 - Intensive Grammar and Composition

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

Prerequisite: French 3031. French 3032 itself 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 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 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 discussions, readings, and assignments will be in French.

FREN 3032 - The Writing and Reading of Texts (Section 6)

Prerequisite: French 3031 or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP French Exam. French 3032 itself 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 in literature, film, and cultural studies by introducing them to the skills necessary to analyze literature and to express ideas in 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 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 discussions, readings, and assignments will be in French. Because the course meets only one-day each week attendance and participation--both in class and in on-line discussion--are especially important.

In this section of the course we will analyze some visual texts and non-literary texts. The required books include:
Schofer, Peter, Donald Rice and William Berg. Poèmes, pieces, prose. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1973.
Beauvoir, Simone de. Les Belles images. 1966 (any French edition; easy to find in Folio paperback)
Additional required readings will be available in PDF and on line.

FREN 3034 - Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French

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 - Literature of the Middle Ages & the 16th Century: Representative Literary Texts: Sinners, Saints and Storytellers

"Medieval," in current usage, frequently means reactionary, superstitious or ignorant. "Renaissance" suggests breadth of knowledge and sudden resurrection after a period of intellectual darkness. However, the periods we now call the Middle Ages (1000-1499) and the Renaissance (1500-1599) witnessed the almost continuous revival and re-evaluation of both classical texts and folk traditions. The scholars and artists of this period are responsible for reworking the ideas, stories and literary genres of earlier ages into the forms that determine our "modern" assumptions about subjects such as romantic love, common courtesy, gender, literary conventions, virtue and heroism, sport and entertainment, and truth. Readings for this course include La Chanson de Roland, La Vie de saint Alexis; texts by Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, Christine de Pisan, Michel de Montaigne; and a selection of lyric poetry from each century. There will be several short assignments, a five-page essay, a midterm and a final exam.

FREN 3043 - Literature of the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries: Great Books

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, 1835) and Gustave Flaubert’s portrait of the original desperate housewife (Madame Bovary, 1856), to Alain Robbe-Grillet’s scandalously puzzling La Jalousie (1957), Georges Perec's critique of consumer society in the 1960s (Les Choses, 1965), and Jean-Philippe Toussaint's tale about TV (La Télévision, 1997). 

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 3046 - African Literatures & Cultures

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 3051 - History and Civilization of France: Revolution to 1945

Beginning with a study of the French Revolution, this course focuses on the cultural and historical influences that have shaped Modern France. We will explore the relationship between culture and political power, the changing role of government, and how ordinary men and women experienced social change. Readings will be drawn from primary documents, memoirs and secondary historical texts. Visual elements will be incorporated in this course as well as selected films.

Readings in this course will be done in both French and English. All lectures, discussions and writing will be done exclusively in French.

FREN 3585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: Literature and Culture of North Africa

La situation géographique des pays d’Afrique du Nord fait de cet ensemble un carrefour de multiples influences depuis l’antiquité. Bordé au sud par le Sahara, à l’ouest par l’océan atlantique, au nord par la mer méditerranée, il est rattaché à l’Asie à son extrémité nord-est par l’isthme de Suez.

Les cultures et populations nord-africaines reflètent cette diversité d’influences qui n’ont jamais cessé de les irriguer depuis les premières invasions à la colonisation et jusqu’aux effets récents de la mondialisation.

Nous aborderons les cultures de l’Afrique du Nord à travers des œuvres littéraires francophones qui nous mèneront de l’Egypte au Maroc, de l’histoire coloniale aux données actuelles, des religions à l’art. Books TBA.

FREN 3585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: Early Novel

This course will serve as an introduction to the French novel from its beginning to the Revolution. Readings will include chivalric romances, excerpts from the comic narratives of Rabelais and Diderot, and a variety of tales of love and adventure. We will examine the novel as an international phenomenon; specifically, we will see how foreign works such as Cervantes's novellas, the Arabian Nights, and Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy influenced the development of the French novel.

FREN 3585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: Non-Fiction - French Social Thought and the "Human Condition"

One of the great treasures of literature in French is the repertory of non-fiction prose: essays, letters, discourses, treatises, travel narratives and numerous other forms. This course proposes a sampling of such writings from the 16th century to today. To provide a thematic thread through the centuries, we will read mainly texts concerning society and the "human condition" in authors such as Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, Sévigné, Rousseau, Diderot, de Staël, Tocqueville, Baudelaire, Fanon, Barthes, and Quignard. Regular participation in class discussion, quizzes, four papers, one oral presentation, final exam. 

3:30 - 4:45 

FREN 3652: Modern Paris

This course will explore the history of Paris from the French Revolution to the present. The principal theater of the Revolution, Paris became over the course of the nineteenth century not only the central focus of French intellectual, political, and artistic life, but also the model of a nineteenth-century European city. Through a broad variety of written and visual texts, we will study the topography, architecture, politics and daily life of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century Paris as well as the development of the imagined city in art and literature. We will also consider how the traces of the past are inscribed on the modern urban landscape.

FREN 4031 - Grammaire et Style

Prerequisite: B+ average in FREN 331 and 332.

Grammar review through the traditional method of grammatical analysis; includes free composition.

FREN 4510 - Advanced Topics in Medieval Literature: Identity and Sexuality: the Medieval Perspective

From damsels in distress to knights in shining armor, this course will confront and challenge lingering stereotypes about men and women in medieval culture. Women writers and castrated men, female warriors and lovesick boys, cross-dressers and werewolves will serve as our guides in exploring gender, sexuality, and social identity in pre-modern Europe. We will move back and forth between medieval and modern culture: How do medieval views continue to influence modern society? How can the medieval perspective help clarify modern approaches to sexuality and identity?

Readings will include literary, spiritual, autobiographical, philosophical, scientific, and historical writings in modern French. Class conducted in French.

FREN 4520 - Advanced Topics in Renaissance Literature: Women Writers of the Renaissance

Prerequisite: Completion of a 3000-level literature course with a grade of B or better.

Against societal norms that relegated them to silence, women of the sixteenth century wrote and published more than ever before. How did women become authors in a world where authority was male? We will consider widely accepted notions of women in statements made by prominent men (Aristotle, Erasmus, Rabelais, Calvin, Montaigne, for example); and we will read a variety of literary works to see how women saw themselves and their society. Readings will include selections from literary works by Christine de Pizan, Hélisenne de Crenne, Marie Dentière, Marguerite de Navarre, Pernette du Guillet, Louise Labé, Madeleine and Catherine des Roches and Marie de Gournay. Class conducted in French. Active participation in class discussion, a mid-term exam, and three papers (15-20 pages total) will be required.

FREN 4559: New Course in French Literature and French Linguistics: Reel Life Stories

Documentary film is the opposite of fiction film. Or is it? Are the stories told in documentary film more “real” or “true” than fictional stories? Do documentary films establish a different relationship with their audiences than fiction films? Do documentarians have a moral imperative to tell the “truth,” from which fiction filmmakers are exempt?

Through what John Grierson called their “creative treatment of actuality,” documentaries seek to inform audiences’ relationship with the past, present, and future. From the very beginnings of cinema, many documentary filmmakers have understood their role as both poetic and political. This course will examine a variety of films from France and the French-speaking world that purport to tell stories that are “real.” We will also read widely in French history, film history, and film theory in order to ask questions about film, communication, truth, and reality in the broadest sense.

FREN 4582 - Advanced Topics in French Poetry: Baudelaire et la modernité

Nous lirons *Les fleurs du mal* et d'autres écrits en prose de Baudelaire. Nous explorerons ce qui est "moderne" dans la modernité de Baudelaire, et, d'une façon plus générale, nous nous intéresserons à la nature et au pouvoir du langage poétique ainsi qu'à la relation entre la poésie et la réalité/ la vie. Prérequisite: One 400-level French literature, culture, or film course. 

FREN 4585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: La laicité : The Secular Tradition in France

Arguably, France is the most adamantly secular country in Europe today. Yet, the French tradition of secularism--known as la laicité--continues to spark heated discussion and debate. A recent law has banned the wearing of the burqa—and other articles of clothing that cover the face- from all public places in France. In 2004, the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols were forbidden in public schools. How can we, as Americans, understand this debate? What can we learn about French culture and history if we analyse it closely? Beginning with a discussion of the main themes of this contemporary debate, we will take a longer view and study the historical, cultural, and philosophical context that shaped this distinctive form of secularism.

Topics of study will include: the history of church/state relations in France; the legacy of the French revolution; anticlericalism; immigration and the evolution of public versus private identities; the defense and (re)definition of the secular state in modern France.

FREN 4743 - Africa in Cinema

This course is a study of the representation of Africa in American, Western European and African films. It deals with the representations of African cultures by filmmakers from different cultural backgrounds and studies the ways in which their perspectives on Africa are often informed by their own social and ideological positions as well as the demands of exoticism. It also examines the constructions of the African as the "other" and the kinds of responses such constructions have elicited from Africa's filmmakers. These filmic inventions are analyzed through a selection of French, British, American, and African films by such directors as John Huston, S. Pollack, J-J Annaud, M. Radford, Ngangura Mweze, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Souleymane Cisse, Gaston Kabore, Amadou Seck, Dani Kouyate, Brian Tilley, Jean-Marie Teno on a variety of subjects relative to the image of Africa in cinema. The final grade will be based on one mid-semester paper (select a film by an African filmmaker and provide a sequential reconstruction of the story based on the methods of P. S. Vieyra and of F.Boughédir), a final paper (7-10 pages), an oral presentation and contributions to discussions. Each oral presentation should contribute to the mid-semester paper and to the final research paper. The final paper should be analytical, well documented and written in clear, grammatical French using correct film terminology.

Graduate Courses

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

FREN 5011 - Old French

Introduction to reading Old French, with consideration of its main dialects (Ile-de-France, Picard, Anglo-Norman) and paleographical issues. May be taken in conjunction with FREN 5100/8510 or independently. Weekly reading exercises, a transcription and translation exercise, and a final open-book exam. Prerequisite: good reading knowledge of modern French, Latin or another romance language. Taught in English. 1 credit.


FREN 5100/8510 - Medieval Literature in Modern French I

The objective of FREN 5100/8510 is to introduce students to the vibrant field of Medieval Studies and to some of the French texts that have played an integral role in this discipline since its inception in the nineteenth century. Inspired by current discussions (recent books and articles, calls for papers for future conferences), we will explore a diverse array of approaches to reading medieval texts. Topics will include authorship, material culture, manuscript contexts, cultural encounters, medievalism, gender, space, animal-human relations, and emotions.

The work of the semester will also focus on dialogue. Students will develop a final research project in response to previous writings and in discussion with their classmates. Final presentations will follow a conference format, with two or three papers, each on a different text, investigating the same topic.


FREN 5520/8520 - Topics in Sixteenth-Century Literature: Ovidian Metamorphoses: Poetic Recreations of the Ancients 

Long before Du Bellay’s Defense et Illustration, sixteenth-century poets looked to the Ancients for inspiration and models. They followed the rule of imitatio in different ways as they strove to articulate their own – French – poetic voices. We will read the poets they read (Ovid, above all, but also some Virgil and Horace in Latin/French editions) and appreciate the transformations they made through their creative imitations. We will see how Metamorphoses was not only a favorite source but also an inspiring principle for Petrarch, Marot, Scève, Labé, Du Guillet, Du Bellay, Ronsard and others. Students planning to take this course could prepare by reading any editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Aeneid this summer. Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier (I like the Charles Singleton translation) will also be a central point of reference. Some response writing, a mid-semester writing assignment and a final paper will be assigned.


FREN 5540/8520 - Topics in Eighteenth-Century Literature: L’Invention Romanesque au Siecle des Lumieres

Note: Students from departments other than French are welcomeand may choose to write their papers in English.

Le XVIIIe siècle n’est pas seulement «the Age of Reason»: c’est aussi un âge d’or du roman. À côté du prestigieux roman anglais et en concurrence directe avec lui, le roman français invente ses propres voies et élabore de nouvelles techniques. On assiste, dès les années 1720-1730, à une ébullition créatrice qui lance le roman dans des voies originales, tant du point de vue des matières traitées que des techniques narratives. La seule année 1731 voit la publication de deux chefs-d’œuvre de facture très différente: L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut de l’abbé Prévost et la Vie de Mariannede Marivaux. Dix ans auparavant, Montesquieu avait déjà imprimé au roman épistolaire le cachet d’une dramaturgie philosophique dans ses Lettres persanes. Jusqu’à la Révolution, le XVIIIe siècle français ne cessera d’être un vaste et remuant laboratoire des formes romanesques.

On lira donc des romans de Montesquieu, Prévost, Marivaux, Crébillon, Diderot, Rousseau, Laclos, choisis pour leurs qualités propres, mais aussi comme des exemples des diverses «voies» qu’emprunte alors la fiction romanesque en France. On portera une attention particulière à l’accréditement des récits, aux techniques narratives, au statut des personnages et de leur parole. On s’intéressera aux tensions productives entre romans «romanesques» et romans ironiques ou «anti-romans». On évoquera les diverses «poétiques» romanesques qui se dégagent des œuvres étudiées – ou les inspirent. On réfléchira aussi sur l’inflexion singulière donnée en France au roman sous la double influence de la Philosophie et du libertinage.

Romans étudiés
- MONTESQUIEU, Les Lettres persanes
- PREVOST : Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut
- MARIVAUX, La Vie de Marianne (Livres I à VIII)
- DIDEROT, Jacques le Fataliste
- ROUSSEAU, La Nouvelle Héloïse (Livre Premier et extraits).
- Madame de STAEL, Corinne

French 5584/8584: Topics in Cinema: Masterpieces of French Cinema

This seminar aims to introduce students to the rich history of French cinema, from its origins in the birth of photography and other proto-cinematic technologies in the nineteenth century, to the advent of digital film at the dawn of the twenty-first. Provides a broad overview of key movements and genres, as well as concurrent trends in film theory and criticism. Students will be invited to reflect closely on film form, and to consider each film in light of the social and historical context within which it was produced. Films may include, but are not limited to, works by Lumière, Méliès, Feuillade, Gance, Buñuel/Dalì, Vigo, Carné, Renoir, Godard, Marker, Truffaut, Varda, Resnais, Chabrol, Tavernier, Besson, Pialat, Ozon, Kechiche, Cantet, Audiard, Asseyas, Desplechin, and Jeunet.

FREN 7040 - Theories and Methods of Language Teaching

An introduction to pedagogical approaches currently practiced in second-language courses at the university level. Students will examine critically the theories behind various methodologies, and the relation of these theories to their own teaching experience. Assignments include readings, exercises, and case studies on the teaching of French; development and critique of pedagogical materials; peer observation and analysis; and drafts of materials for an eventual teaching portfolio.

Required for all GTAs teaching French at UVa for the first time. Restricted to Graduate Teaching Assistants in French. Please register for CR/NC grade option, three credits. If you have already taken a similar course contact Karen James about registering for partial credit. Exchange Assistants will register as auditors.

FREN 7500 - Topics in Criticism and Theory: All You Always Wanted to Know about Theory and Criticism and Were Too Busy to Ask

The purpose of the Proseminar is to define, explore or clarify chosen aspects of Literary Theory, while trespassing on other disciplinary turfs (Philosophy, History of Ideas, Sociology, Gender Studies, Queer Studies, etc.) whenever necessary. Rather than targeting specific authors, this Proseminar (vintage 2011) will focus on «most often asked questions» in our field. Those questions will be exposed and discussed through short readings available in a course packet. I have identified 6 questions or topics (listed below), most of them very open. I will be happy to introduce a couple more during the course of our seminar, taking cues from your own interests.

1) Is engagement passé ?
(How «responsable» or irresponsible can literature be? Roman à thèse, roman idéologique, roman engagé.)

2) What ever happened to Modernity?
(Is Literary Modernity a historical or transhistorical concept? What use do we have for it?)

3) Who killed the Author (and where is the Corpse)?
(Why did Barthes and Foucault consort to commit such a horrendous crime —or did they? How is the Author doing these days?)

4) Is there a Hermeneutat at the Reception Desk ?
(What is the impact of hermeneutics on literary studies? How does it connect with Rezeptiontheorie? )

5) Is Literature a new form of Terror? Is Language Fascist?
(Is it all about Power? And why so many violent metaphors to describe Literature?)

6) How Knowledgeable Can Fiction Be ?
(Literature «knows a lot», says Barthes, but how and what?)

The seminar will be taught in French. Discussions in French and English.Students will be asked to give a 20 minute presentation on a theoretical topic of their choice.
A final paper of about 15 pages will be required.


RELG 7528 - Topics in Modern Religious Thought:

This graduate seminar focuses upon the major writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Special attention will be given to *Totality and Infinity* and *Otherwise than Being*, although we shall also attend to his writings on the relations between art and ethics. Reference will be made to critiques of Levinas proposed by Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, and one important counter to Levinas, the non-intentional phenomenology of Michel Henry, will also be considered. The ability to read French would be a distinct advantage in taking this seminar.


MUSI 7532 - Musical Analysis: Music and Culture in Third-Republic France

This course surveys the music and culture of Third-Republic France, which stretched from the Franco-Prussian War to World War II. We will pay particular attention to the life and work of Debussy, Satie, and Ravel, not only because of the sheer quality and historical influence of their music, but also because of its deep entanglement with the important trends of this period: Wagnerism, exoticism, symbolism, decadence, medievalism, neoclassicism, the "guerre des chapelles" between rival musical factions, and jazz, among many others. Primarily intended for PhD students. The abilities to read French and decipher musical scores will be useful, but are not required.