Undergraduate Courses

French in Translation Courses

FRTR 2510 - Topics in French in Translation: The Lives of the Saints

Focusing on one of the highpoints of hagiographic writing—Christian France in the Middle Ages—but drawing on a range of works, we will investigate what saints’ Lives can tell us about their culture’s theological concerns, secular interests, conceptions of history and fiction, and the quest of both ecclesiastical and lay people to fulfill their spiritual and their terrestrial responsibilities.  All readings and discussions will be in English. 

FRTR 2584--French Cinema

An introduction to masterpieces of French cinema, from the earliest short films of the Lumière Brothers and George Meliès, to feature-length works by Jean Cocteau, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda and others. Students will study film genres and movements (Poetic Realism, the New Wave) in relation to social, cultural and aesthetic trends. They will also learn to identify and analyze film techniques (camera angle, camera movement, montage, and more). FRTR can be taken to meet the second writing requirement (by individual request) and the Humanities area requirement.


  • Lectures and discussion in English
  • Viewing: Approximately one film/week, to be viewed outside of class (on reserve at Clemons).
  • All films in French with English subtitles.
  • Textbook Alan: Singerman’s French Cinema.
  • Testing: one mid-term, one final, and several short on-line quizzes.
  • Writing: students will work in teams on creation of a bilingual course blog.
  • Project: students will work in teams to create a short, original film.
  • Questions? Contact the professor: Cheryl Krueger (clk6m@virginia.edu

Advanced Courses in French

FREN 3010 - Oral & Written Expression in French

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

FREN 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 representation (spelling); the rules governing the pronunciation of "standard French"; the most salient phonological features of selected French varieties; phonetic differences between French and English sounds; and much more. Practical exercises in 'ear-training' and 'phonetic transcription' (using IPA) are also essential elements in this dynamic course.

Taught in French. Counts for major credit in French and in Linguistics.

Final decisions about placement in French courses in the sequence FREN 3031-3034 are the responsibility of the Director of the Undergraduate Program (John Lyons: jdl2f@virginia.edu).

FREN 3031 - Intensive Grammar and Composition

Prerequisite: Completion of FREN 2020 or 2320; exemption from FREN 2020 by the UVA (F-Cape) Placement Test; a score of 3 on the AP French Language Exam; or a score of at least 660 on the SAT exam. FREN 3031 is a prerequisite for all subsequent French courses except FREN 3010.

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. The variety of assessment formats includes 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. This course is a prerequisite for all French undergraduate courses on a higher level.

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 discuss 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.

Note: Students must have completed 3031 and 3032, or tested out of both of their courses, to take any of the more advanced French courses listed below.

 FREN 3034 - Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French

FREN 3034, which counts for major/minor credit, is an intensive course designed to improve the oral and written language skills of more advanced students. Assignments include discussions 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 become familiar with French and Francophone cultures and comfortable expressing their viewpoints in French. Of course, consistent attendance and active participation are essential.

FREN 3042 - Literature of the 17th & 18th Centuries: Performing the Self

Prerequisite: FREN 3032.

The 17th and 18th centuries stressed the importance of conscious self-fashioning and self-presentation in society. Many approaches to this activity appear in important literary works from the period. One might conform to existing social types or attempt to run against prevailing norms. The results of either approach might be comic or tragic, for the social world was represented as pitiless. In this course we will read works by Molière, Corneille, Lafayette, Rousseau, Laclos, and Montesquieu.

FREN 3559 - New Course in French: Act French! Carribbean and African Theatre on Stage

Act French! aims at introducing students to Francophone Caribbean and African culture, history, and society through the study of contemporary theatrical texts and the staging of plays. It combines theory and practice, that is to say the reading and analysis of dramatic texts with the staging of plays written by major authors from various regions of the Francophone postcolonial world (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, Western and Northern Africa).

FREN 3570 - Topics in Francophone African Literature: African Oral Traditions

We will read and comment on a selection of proverbs, folktales, and epic stories across Africa that have been translated into French and assess the significance of oral tradition and the state of oral transmission in Africa today.

FREN 3584 - Topics in French Cinema: Introduction to French Cinema

An introduction to masterpieces of French cinema, from the earliest short films of the Lumière Brothers and George Meliès, to feature-length works by Jean Cocteau, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, and others. Students will study film genres and movements (Poetic Realism, the New Wave) in relation to social, cultural and aesthetic trends. They will also learn to identify and analyze film techniques (camera angle, camera movement, montage, and more).

  •  Counts toward the French Major or Minor
  •  Humanities Area Requirement


  • Lectures and discussion in English
  • We will divide small-group discussion into French and English tables for a portion of the class period each week.
  • viewing: Approximately one film/week, to be viewed outside of class (on reserve at Clemons).
  • All films in French with English subtitles.

Questions? Contact the professor: Cheryl Krueger (clk6m@virginia.edu)

FREN 3585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: Digital Story Telling Workshop

Students will investigate contemporary French culture through various forms of digital media. Adopting the dual perspective of a scholar-practitioner, they will read widely about modern France and digital media; be active readers, critics, and creators of digital audiovisual projects; reflect, speak and write about how their scholarly and creative works shape and inform one another. No prior technical or visual skills required; high level of motivation and French ability preferred.  

FREN 4035 - Tools & Techniques of Translation

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

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.    

FREN 4509 Seminar in French Linguistics: The French Language and the Académie française

One of France’s most talked about institutions (though less widely understood) is the Académie française.  In this seminar we will attempt to demystify the French Academy.  We begin by reviewing its historical origins, founding goal, societal setting, structural composition, famous members, etc.  Then we turn to the issue of perception:  How is the Académie perceived in France and outside France?  Why, for example, does it get such an appalling press from many writers, while others celebrate it as an historical monument not to be ignored?  What do people say about its future?   What does the Academy really do?  When was the Academy most useful?   When (and by whom) was its power ‘usurped’?  Why is there not a single linguist among its esteemed members?  Following the discussion on perception (myths and reality) we will broach the subject of linguistic politics and language change.  Along the way we will make comparative observations about the functioning of language academies in other countries (Spain and Italy, in particular), and about Webster’s failed attempt to get the idea accepted in the US.

Requirements will include:  a wide variety of readings in both French and English; oral interviews with French and francophone speakers; a mid-term exam; and a substantial research paper. 

The format of the seminar will be that of lively discussions and debates.  Students will thus have the opportunity to practice their oral French skills—as well as work on their critical thinking skills, their writing skills and their independent research skills.  

Prerequisites:  FREN 3032; a keen interest in the French language; and a willingness to speak French in class—students taking this course must feel comfortable speaking French in the classroom.  

FREN 4540 - Advanced Topics in 18th Century Literature: The Fictional Orient

French authors and artists created an imaginary Orient filled with harems, genies, princes, and crafty merchants -- a place of fantastic luxury and excessive cruelty. In this faraway dreamland, which included countries as disparate as Persia, Turkey, India, and China, the expectations of realistic writing were temporarily suspended. The perspective of fictional foreigners also allowed French writers to discuss controversial political and moral issues without openly criticizing their own country. Readings will begin with Galland’s translation of 1001 Nights and end with samples of post-colonial criticism. 

FREN 4581 - Advanced Topics in Francophone Literature: La réécriture de l’histoire en mots en images dans la littérature et le cinéma francophone caribéen et africain

Ce cours propose d’analyser comment les écrivains et cinéastes caribéens et africains francophone revisitent le passé de la colonisation et des luttes de libération de pays et de peuples placés sous la tutelle ou sous le joug d’un pouvoir européen, en l’occurrence la France. Nous étudierons la reconstruction en mots et en images d’une histoire principalement écrite par des chroniqueurs et historiens occidentaux, une histoire falsifiée qui demande à être réécrite, réévaluée. Cette exploration littéraire et cinématographique marque la volonté de se réapproprier une histoire obscurcie et raturée afin de restaurer la mémoire effacée et de rétablir une vérité historique qui ne soit plus celle unilatérale, linéaire et hiérarchisée du regard eurocentriste et impérialiste. Nous analyserons les œuvres d’écrivains et de réalisateurs originaires de différentes aires francophones (la Martinique avec Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Daniel Boukman et Euzhan Palcy, Haïti avec Raoul Peck et Jan J. Dominique, le Sénégal avec L.S. Senghor et Ousmane Sembène, l’Algérie avec Assia Djébar), tout en abordant des genres littéraires variés (roman, poésie, théâtre, essais) et des productions filmiques de diverses natures (documentaires et fictions ancrées dans la réalité historique). Nous verrons comment les œuvres de ces écrivains et cinéastes contribuent au rétablissement de « la chronologie tourmentée d’un temps stabilisé dans le néant d’une histoire imposée » (E. Glissant, Le discours antillais, 1981).

FREN 4585 - Topics in Cultural Studies: Joan of Arc from Medieval to Modern Times

Does the past matter in modern France? To what extent does history shape contemporary culture? This course will turn to the medieval heroine Joan of Arc to tease out these questions. That she has been the subject of well over 2000 major creative works, ranging from poetry and painting to cinema and drama; that she has served as the mascot for two of the most controversial political movements in modern France; that her silhouette hovers over more than two dozen francophone towns; and that she enjoys her own secret “national” holiday and cult following suggest that indeed the past matters very much. What is the deep cultural significance of the former French president’s announcement that Joan was his patron saint? How did she become a saint in the first place? How is it that Joan so often becomes the subject of some of the most controversial artistic creations – whether speaking of Voltaire’s sex-starved Joan, mystical poetic revolutions, cinema’s most haunting imagery, or contemporary fiction’s preoccupation with the grotesque? Understanding modern France means knowing more than the language and more than contemporary politics, it demands familiarity with a past that maintains a physical, intellectual and spiritual presence. This course promises not only to help students navigate Joan’s role in constructing the French nation and identity for over 500 years, but to provide students with the tools for reading past the contemporary to get the full story on what the past means to France today.