Undergraduate Courses

French in Translation Courses

FRTR 2584--French Cinema

The French have been pioneers in film, from the early shorts of the Lumière brothers and Méliès, through the early classics of the 1930s, and during the New Wave and beyond.  French directors and critics have transformed movie-making beyond the boundaries of France, giving us a way of looking at such American phenomena as “Film Noir.” This course is an introduction to masterpieces of French cinema, including 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 it counts towards the Humanities area requirement. FRTR 2584 does not count toward the French major or minor. Lectures and discussion in English.  For questions, contact John Lyons (jdlf2@virginia.edu).

MW 2:00 – 3:15 (Lyons)

Advanced Courses in French

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/minor credit in French and in Linguistics.

TR 11:00  AM - 12:15 PM (Saunders)
TR 12:30 PM– 1:45 PM (Saunders)

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.

FREN 3034-001 - Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French

Prerequisite: Students must have completed French 3031 and French 3032 or their equivalent.

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.

In this class, students will learn the basics of physical and oral expression in French with an emphasis on theatre performance. The techniques emphasized apply to public speaking, stage performance and daily interactions. Different theatre approaches will be taught, ranging from role-playing to work on real life situations to an in-class performance of a Molière comedy.  


FREN 3034-002 - Advanced Oral and Written Expression in French

Prerequisite: Students must have completed French 3031 and French 3032 or their equivalent.

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.

In this course, students will learn about the major industries of, the organizational structures of, and the primary positions within French and francophone businesses.  They will gain experience in business research, will hone their oral and written French for use in a business-setting, will give group and individual oral presentations, will craft CV’s and cover letters in French, will have practice job interviews, and will learn the practical aspects of living and working in France.  Students will also take a practice DFP (Diplôme de français professionnel) exam in Business French, a certification accepted by numerous universities and corporations, in order to prepare them to take the official exam if they so choose.


FREN 3041 The French-Speaking World I:  Origins

Prerequisites: FREN 3031 and 3032 or equivalents.
Knights rescuing damsels in distress.  Damsels rescuing knights in distress.  Quests for adventure, God, love, truth.  Bawdy ballads and soulful sonnets.  The first five hundred years of French literature provide endless entertainment and often unnerving perspectives on the world and its history.  The authors of this time are responsible for the ideas, stories and literary genres 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 are in modern French translation and include the foundational text of modern Frenchness, La Chanson de Roland; the provocative Vie de saint Alexis; Arthurian tales of chivalry by Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France;  Christine de Pisan's feminist Cité des dames; Michel de Montaigne's essays on cannibals and friendship; and a selection of lyric poetry from each century. 


FREN 3043 - The French-Speaking World III:  Modernities

Rather than focus on any single theme, movement, motif, or overarching problem, this seminar will examine a few of the most admired and influential novels--Great Books all!--in the history of modern French literature: from Honoré de Balzac’s tale of a young law student driven 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 Albert Camus' atmospheric L'Etranger (1942), Alain Robbe-Grillet’s scandalously puzzling La Jalousie (1957), and Georges Perec's critique of consumer society in the 1960s (Les Choses, 1965).  Each of these works will be considered within their larger cultural and historical contexts. We will round out the semester with one or two works by contemporary novelists who prove that French fiction is, indeed, thriving today.

Required work to include: active participation in class discussions, weekly Collab discussion board posts, an oral presentation, 2 longer papers (4-5 pages), and a final exam. Course conducted in French.


FREN 3051 - History &  Civilization of France;  Rev – 1945: Histoire et civilisation de la France contemporaine

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

Prerequisite: FREN 3032


FREN: 3585 - Topics in Cultural Studies:  L’immigration en France

L’immigration en France est sujet de nature interdisciplinaire. Il questionne l’histoire et la géographie  de la France et donc l’histoire des populations européennes, africaines et asiatiques à travers la proximité géographique ou l’histoire coloniale.

L’immigration en France suscite bien des débats sur les questions politiques, économiques, sociales et humanitaires que nous aborderons à travers une littérature variée : romans, articles académiques et revues de presse mais également   à travers des films et documentaires audio-visuels . 

(Taught in French)

FREN 4031 – Grammaire et Style

Prerequisites: B+ average in FREN 3031, 3032, and or instructor permission.

Survey of the main tools and techniques of translation. Written and oral translation exercises to and from the target language. Text selections will vary.

Taught in French.


FREN 4540 Advanced Topics in Eighteenth-Century Literature Topic:  Humor/Society/Power in Classical France

In this course, we will study some of the "greatest hits" of classical French literature, including comic plays by Molière and Marivaux, funny stories and poems by Voltaire, and social satires by Boileau and La Fontaine. These works will be contextualized within the social norms and the literary conventions of their time, especially vis-à-vis the models of Ancient Greek and Roman comic literature.

Reading these works will lead us to discuss issues such as: What is irony? Can something be funny in translation? How did the French define vulgarity? Can satire fix society? What is the relationship between comedy and censorship? Can women be funny? When does humor cross the line to cruelty?  Is comedy a weapon used by the powerless against the powerful, or vice versa?

Class requirements will involve active class participation, one 15-page paper that compares/contrasts a classical French comic text with a work of contemporary humor (of any culture), and an oral presentation on the topic of this paper.


FREN 4585-001 Advanced Topics in Cultural Studies(3 different sections/topics)

(Roger)Topic: America in French Literature

While France and America historically stood as allies from the very birth of the United States, anti-Americanism also has a long tradition in France, shaped and nurtured by generations of intellectuals and writers. As early as the 18th century, prominent French philosophers and scientists such as Buffon dwelled upon America’s «weaknesses» as a continent, prompting Thomas Jefferson’s counter-attack in his Notes on the State of Virginia. In the course of the 19th century, anti-Americanism moved to new topics, ranging from the lack of cultural life to economic greed and military imperialism.

From Baudelaire, who coined the French word “américanisation” in the 1850s to Jean Baudrillard, who in 1986 described America as a non-entity, French poets, novelists and writers played a decisive part in the elaboration and diffusion of anti-American stereotypes.

The seminar will explore this tradition, which accounts for a great number of French attitudes towards the US today.

The first four weeks will be devoted to a presentation of the most salient features of French anti-Americanism, in connection with specific historical periods (from the 18th to the 21st century): «L’Amérique invivable»,  «L’Amérique inculte», «L’Amérique impériale» et «L’Amérique introuvable».

The second half of the seminar will be organized thematically, each week being devoted to a selected, significant topic :  «La ville», «La violence», «La voracité», «Le vice et la vertu».

Readings will include an array of sources, ranging from natural history and philosophy to poetry and from short story to political pamphlet. We will discuss pages or chapters in Buffon, De Pauw, Jefferson, Baudelaire, Georges Duhamel, Céline, Sartre, Marcel Aymé, Jean Baudrillard,. We will also have a look at representations of the US in film (Le Mépris by Jean-Luc Godard and French popular culture : serialized fiction (La Conspiration des milliardaires), comic books (Tintin en Amérique), cartoons (Plantu). 

Assignments :

  • students will be expected to participate in discussions on the readings.
  • 2 short reactions papers  
  • 1 mid-term exam
  • 1 final paper (about 10 pages) on a topic chosen by the student in agreement with the instructor  will be due at the end of the semester.

Lectures and assignments in French. However, you should feel free to use English in discussions when necessary.

Please note the particular timetable of this class (which end at the beginning of November) and the unusual 2hour format of the sessions.

Taught in French


FREN 4585-002 Advanced Topics in Cultural Studies (3 different sections/topics)

 (Levine)Topic: Contemporary France in Film and Media Arts 

FREN 4585 will examine how contemporary debates about French history, language, education, politics, institutions, attitudes, and social issues are represented in film and other time-based art forms. Course materials include films and web-based media projects, accompanied by readings from the French press and other published sources. The course strongly emphasizes oral participation and discussion, and in addition to reading, writing, and film/media viewing, students will be expected to contribute to the discussion forums and other social media activities connected to the films and digital media works investigated in the course. They will also create a linear or non-linear digital audiovisual project relating to the themes of the course. No prior technical or visual skills are required, but a high level of willingness to engage with the creation and analysis of digital texts and images, as well as excellent oral and written skills in French, is preferred. They should also be open to working in teams. For questions, contact the instructor alevine@virginia.edu.

Prerequisite: FREN 3032 and 3584 or instructor permission.


FREN 4585-003 Advanced Topics in Cultural Studies (3 different sections/topics)

(Ferguson)Topic: Sex, Gender, and Beyond in Renaissance France

The term “Renaissance man,” exemplified by figures like Leonardo de Vinci or Michelangelo, expresses a certain ideal of the educated and multi-talented individual. But in 16th-century Europe, and in France in particular, what did it mean to be a man? And what did it mean to be a woman? In this period, poised between the Middle Ages and modernity, paradoxically inspired by the Ancient world and encountering the “New World” of the Americas, what concepts did people have of the self, of sex, and of gender and how were these experienced in daily life? Studying a variety of texts focusing on examples of exclusion, marginality, and transgression – same-sex eroticism, cross-dressing, sex change, etc. – we will explore the constraints and possibilities of a sexual culture that also intersected with religious dissidence and racial difference, a culture that requires us to reflect on our own assumptions and contemporary society’s norms.


FREN 4743 – Africa in Cinema