2019 Fall Course Descrptions

Undergraduate Courses
Graduate Courses

The following writing requirements apply to courses in which the authorized enrollments do not exceed 20 (French 3031 and 3032) or 25 (literature and civilization courses beyond French 3032): FREN 3031 and 3032: 10-15 pages, typically divided among 4 to 5 papers. Peer editing is introduced during class and may be practiced outside. 3000-level literature and civilization courses: 10-15 pages, typically divided among 2 to 4 papers. The content is relatively less sophisticated than at the 4000-level. Peer editing outside of class may be offered to students as an option or it may be required. 4000-level literature and civilization courses: 15-20 pages, typically divided among 2 to 4 papers. The content is relatively more sophisticated than at the 3000-level. Peer editing outside of class may be offered to students as an option or it may be required. In all courses, the quality of students' written French (that is, the degree to which their use of grammar and vocabulary is correct and appropriate) affects the grades they receive on their papers, since it affects how comprehensible, persuasive, and impressive their writing is. As students move from 3000- to 4000- level courses, they are expected to show greater sophistication in sentence structure, grammar, and use of idioms.

French Translation Courses

FRTR 2510 Topics in Medieval Literature:  Lives of the Saints

Murderers, prostitutes, Trans people, kings, rebellious children… all saints?  Modern depictions of holy people often foreground their subjects' virtues and gloss over their complexities, but, historically, stories about saints highlight more than just heroic courage in the face of impossible odds: the stories (hagiography) also focus on sin and redemption and on staunch resistance to contemporary norms. Gender bending, marvelous journeys to heaven and hell, spectacular sins and helpful animals are just a few of the exciting elements authors have used to draw their audiences in.  For more sophisticated readers and listeners, they frequently offer edgy commentaries on the hot topics of their day (e.g., virginity vs. marriage) and on eternal issues (e.g., the conflicting goals of parents and children).  Focusing on one of the highpoints of hagiographic writing—Christian France in the Middle Ages—but drawing on a range of Lives, from the earliest times to the modern era and from different religious traditions, 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 ecclesiastics and lay people to fulfill their spiritual and their terrestrial responsibilities.

         All readings will be in English translation and discussion will be in English.  This course may not be taken as part of the requirements for the major or minor in French.

MW    2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Ogden)

CREO 1010-001 - Elementary Creole I

Development of basic oral expression, listening and reading comprehension, and writing.  Pre-requisite: No previous formal instruction of French or Creole is required.

TBA - Dramé

CREO 2010-001 - Intermediate Creole I



Develops the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Creole. 

Enrollment Requirement:  Must have completed CREO 1020.

Pre-requisite: Two previous semesters of Elementary Creole (I and II).

TBA -    Dramé

Advanced Courses in French

FREN 3030 – Phonetics: The Sounds of French

FREN 3030 is an introductory course in French phonetics. It provides basic concepts in articulatory phonetics and phonological theory, and offers students techniques for improving their own pronunciation. The course will cover the physical characteristics of individual French sounds; the relationship between these sounds and their written representation (orthography); 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 to some extent, ‘la musique du français’, i.e., prosodic phenomena (le rythme, l’accent, l’intonation, la syllabation). Practical exercises in 'ear-training' (the perception of sounds) and 'phonetic transcription' (using IPA) are also essential components of this dynamic course.

Pre-requisite: FREN 2020 (or equivalent).  Course taught in French; counts for major/minor credit in French and Linguistics

MWF   11:00 AM – 11:50 AM   (Saunders)

FREN 3031 –Finding Your Voice in French

This course offers an opportunity for students to explore and develop their own “voice” in written and spoken French. Through reading and viewing a variety of cultural artifacts in French, and completing a series of individual and collaborative creative projects, students will have a chance to develop their own potential for self-expression. They will develop greater confidence in their communicative skills, command of grammar, and ability to revise and edit their own work. The course is conducted entirely in French.

Pre-requisite: 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.

Advice:  FREN 3031 is a major and minor requirement and a pre-requisite for most other courses in French.  Try to take FREN 3031 as soon as you are eligible --first year, first semester if possible.

MWF 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM (Zunz) 
TR       9:30 AM – 10:45 AM (Staff)
TR       2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Staff)
MW 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM (Geer)

FREN 3032 – Image, Text, Culture 

In this course, students will discover and engage critically with a broad sampling of French and Francophone cultural production representing a variety of periods, genres, approaches, and media.  Students will learn how to become more sensitive observers of French and Francophone culture, attuned to the nuances of content and form. They will read, watch, write about, and discuss a range of works that may include poetry, painting, prose, music, theater, films, graphic novels, photographs, essays, and historical documents. They will also make significant progress in their oral and written comprehension and communication in French.  The course is conducted entirely in French.

Pre-requisite: French 3031.

Advice: FREN 3032 is a major and minor requirement and a pre-requisite for most other courses in French.  Try to take FREN 3032 as soon as you are eligible--first year, first semester if possible.

TR       11:00 AM – 12:15 PM (Staff)
TR       12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (McGrady)
MW     2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Lyu) 

FREN 3036  - Introduction to Translation

Comment dit-on… ? Que veut dire… ? This course will provide a practical and theoretical introduction to methods of translation. We will translate literary and non-literary texts such as news articles, ads, songs, essays, poems, and short stories from French to English and from English to French. Classes will be in the form of workshops as we take on the role of the translator and collaborate on translation projects using different practices and methods of translation, all while undertaking a comparative review of French (and English!) grammar and analyzing various cultural topics.

**Students who have already taken FREN 4035 “Tools and Techniques of Translation” may not enroll in this course.

Pre-requisite: FREN 2020 or FREN 2320 or equivalent placement

MWF   11:00 AM – 11:50 AM (Hall)

FREN 3041 – The French-Speaking World I:  Origins:

Globalization.  Love and friendship.  Encounters with other cultures and peoples.  Separation of Church and State.  Bourgeois values.  Law and justice.  Where did these features of modern life come from and—more importantly—what other forms might they have taken or might they still evolve into?  It is said that history is written by the victors, but historical documents—literature, histories, prayer books, etc.—retain the evidence of alternate values as well as hints of (temporarily?) abandoned futures.  Can we escape our preconceptions of the past and uncover, in the documents, different histories?  Histories that offer alternative ways of thinking about modern institutions, assumptions, and inequities and about the stories that give them authority?

Readings in the course will be in modern French translation, with occasional discussions of the original medieval and middle French if students are interested in the history of the language.  We’ll begin with the earliest narrative in French (ca. 880 C.E.) and continue up to about 1600, looking both at classic texts and little-known treasures.  Reading and writing assignments will be appropriate both for students coming directly from FREN 3032 and for more advanced students who want to hone their close reading and analytical/persuasive writing skills in French.

Pre-requisite:  FREN 3032

MWF   10:00 AM – 10:50 AM (Ogden)

FREN 3043-001 - The French-Speaking World III:  Great Books in French

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. Special attention will be paid to the potential uses (but also, as some would put it, to the ultimate uselessness) of literature. How might reading fiction inform our understanding of the world and our place in it, if at all? Texts may include, but are certainly not limited to: Honoré de Balzac’s tale of a young law student’s drive to make it in the big city (Le Père Goriot, 1835); Gustave Flaubert’s portrait of the original desperate housewife (Madame Bovary, 1856); Alain Robbe-Grillet’s scandalously puzzling La Jalousie (1957); and/or Georges Perec's critique of consumer society in the 1960s.  We will end our semester with an "extremely contemporary" novel, or two, published within the last decade or two.

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

Pre-requisite:  FREN 3032

TR       9:30 AM – 10:45 AM (Blatt)

FREN 3051 -  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

Pre-requisite: FREN 3032

TR       9:30 AM – 10:45 AM (Horne)

FREN 3509 - Topics in French Linguistics:  Introduction to phonological variation in French (NEW COURSE) 

Language variation is not an exceptional phenomenon in living languages; it is fundamental and permanent.  This introductory course considers selected aspects of variation in French at the phonological level.  It will focus on inter-speaker variation (variation between speakers, i.e., according to geographical and social characteristics) as well as intra-speaker variation (variation within the same speaker, i.e., according to register, or style).   The course will attempt to answer questions such as the following:  What aspects of the pronunciation of French vary (vowels, consonants, liaison, /ə/ . . .) and why?  What do the phonological systems of different varieties of French have in common?  How can one [or can one] identify the geographical region of France from which one comes just by listening to his/her pronunciation?   How do non-linguists (as opposed to linguists) perceive variation in French? Why do some non-Parisian French speakers perceive their own variety of French as inferior? 

In addition to providing students with useful knowledge to support their future studies in French, linguistics, communication, cognitive sciences, global studies, and the like, this course offers students the opportunity to practice their oral French, improve their listening skills and engage actively in a number of individual and group projects (involving ‘authentic’ French). 

Course taught entirely in French, though some reading assignments are in English 

Pre-requisites:  FREN 3030 (phonetics) or comparable course

MWF   12:00 PM – 12:50 PM (Saunders)

FREN 3570 – Topics in Francophone African

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 impact on all other art forms; key issues in French colonial policy and its legacy in Africa: language, politics, and 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 and sculptors like Cheri Samba (Zaire), Iba NDiaye, O. Sow (Senegal), Werewere Liking (Cameroun), 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 (Zaire), Salif Keita (Mali), and Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde); from Mande, Peul, and Kabyle oral literature in French translation; from filmmakers D.D. Mambety, Moussa Sene Absa, and Ngangura Mweze. The final grade will be based on contributions to discussions, a mid-term, and 2 papers.

Pre-requisite: FREN 3032

TR 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (Dramé)

FREN 3585-001 - Topics in Cultural Studies:  France and the US (1919-2019)

The French-American relationship can be described as intense, passionate, and highly paradoxical. While the two countries like to think of themselves as old-time friends and allies, they often behave as rivals, not to say adversaries. While they share common (democratic) values, they often disagree on how to interpret those values, or how to act in accordance with them. As observed by an influential French statesman as early as the 1920s, periods of good will and camaraderie between France and the U.S. were always short-lived, and quickly followed by bitterness and tensions.

An aggravating factor in that strained relationship was, in the aftermath of WWI, the imbalance created by the war between a victorious, but weakened France, and the U.S.

Conflicts of interest — diplomatic, economical or otherwise— always played an important part in that rampant bellicosity. However, the great divide runs deeper. The most strident differences between the two countries are cultural, while at the same time (again paradoxically), each country feels, on many grounds, culturally attracted by the other. Such is the charade that we will explore together, through texts, images, songs, and films.

Our approach will be twofold :

1) CONTEXT : we will analyze the French-American relationship in terms of international relations, starting with the post-WWI crisis over the League of Nations, the treaties and the war debts, down to the (at best) tepid relationship between Presidents Trump and Macron;

2) REPRESENTATIONS : we will explore the major areas of ideological or cultural conflict, from religion to work ethics or néfaste food (a French pun on American fast-food). Identifying stereotypes on both sides of the Atlantic, will help us to delineate the imaginary portraits of «les Yankees», as seen by «the Frogs» —and vice versa. We will also explore the major objects of mutual fascination between the two cultures.

Pre-requisite:  FREN 3031 and FREN 3032 (or equivalent placement)

Taught in French


MW 3:30 PM – 5:15 PM (Roger)

FREN 4031-001 - Grammar and Style

Penser en français, parler en français correct, et écrire avec style, tels sont les objectifs de ce cours. Pour ce faire, nous reverrons les règles de base de la grammaire française à partir de textes variés choisis pour leur élégance et leur intérêt. Nous paierons tout spécialement attention au choix des mots, à leur fonction, aux expressions nouvellement apprises par les étudiants, ce qui nous permettra de relever les particularités grammaticales et stylistiques de la langue française.  Lecture des documents dans Collab, exercices de formation de phrases, présentations orales, trois essais de 500 mots, deux compositions de 1000 mots, deux interrogations et un examen en fin de semestre, tels sont les exercices de ce cours.

Taught in French.

Pre-requisites: FREN 3031, FREN 3032 and at least one FREN course numbered 3040 or higher. Restricted to third and fourth year students.

MWF   12:00PM - 12:50PM   Zunz

FREN 4580 – Advanced Topics in Literature:  The Extreme Contemporary, or What the French are Reading Today

This course is designed as a survey of contemporary French literature. One might even call it an introduction to what has come to be known as “extremely contemporary” French literature (l’extrême contemporain), which is to say books that have been published within the last few years. After an initial consideration of some of the major trends to have emerged on the French literary scene since the turn of the twenty-first century, students will read, discuss, and write about a selection of texts (fictions, non-fictions, and works that fall somewhere in between) that have been hailed by critics and readers alike. While the course focuses on what kinds of books the French are reading today, we will also consider how they read, how they talk about what they are reading, and how they inform themselves further about what to read next by consulting a number of essential and readily available resources for enthusiasts of contemporary French writing, like magazines, radio programs, websites, blogs, book reviews, and television programs (indeed, the French have a long tradition of producing quality “book tv”). Works by writers such as Jean Rolin, Jean Echenoz, Maylis de Kerangal, Vincent Almendros, Gael Faye, Leila Slimani, and Michel Houellebecq may find their way onto the syllabus. We will also endeavor to schedule a few opportunities for students to discuss their readings (over skype) with the writers themselves.

Requirements include regular reading and active participation in class discussion, an oral presentation on a particular aspect of the contemporary literary scene, a series of short commentaries and book reviews, and a final paper.

 Pre-requisites: FREN 3032 and at least one other course above FREN 3040. Course conducted in French.

TR       12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (Blatt)

FREN 4585 -  The History of 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 19th-century not only the central focus of French intellectual, political, and artistic life, but also the model of a 19th-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.

Pre-requisite: FREN 3032 plus one additional 3000-level course in French. (N.B. Students who have previously taken FREN 3652: Modern Paris may not enroll for FREN credit in this course.)

TR       11:00 AM – 12:15 PM (Horne)

FREN 4585-002 - Adv Topics Cultural Studies:  Portraits

An exploration of human portraits in France from prehistoric cave art to the selfie. Students will examine a variety of genres and media including paintings, drawings, film, photography, autobiography, autofiction, poetry, essays, and journals. We will focus in particular on narrative believability (in text and image), on the e creation of self-image and public persona, and on the mediated self. Coursework includes a final autobiographical, autofictional, or biographical audio-visual project.

Pre-requisite: FREN 3031 and 3032 (or equivalent) and one literature or culture course at the 3000 level.

MW     2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Krueger)

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 Cissé, Gaston Kaboré, Amadou Seck, Dani Kouyaté, Brian Tilley,  Jean-Marie Teno, A. Sissako on a variety of subjects relative to the image of Africa in cinema. Attendance is mandatory. The final grade will be based on one oral presentation (20%) and a short paper (20%), contributions to discussions in class (10% of final grade), and a Final Research Paper (50%).

Pre-requisite: FREN 3032 and FREN 3584 or another 3000-level literature, culture, or film course in French.

TR   3:30 PM – 4:45 PM   Dramé,Kandioura

Graduate Courses

Advanced undergraduate students who have earned a B+ (or higher) in at least one 4000-level course may enroll in graduate level courses with instructor permission.

FREN 5510/8510 -  Topics in Medieval Literature: Poetry in Motion: The Composition, Circulation and Reception of Verse in the Late Middle Ages

Founded on the notion that art is neither produced in a vacuum nor received by passive participants, this course will consider the ways in which the circulation of writings transforms their form, function, and meaning. Key topics to be addressed include 1) multi-authorship (both collaborative and competitive), 2) multi-modal compositions that combine text/image/music, 3) delivery and messaging (whether as performed works or material artifacts), 4) textual appropriation through rewriting and translation. Primary works will be from the “long fourteenth century” and will include Jean de Meun’s continuation of the Roman de la Rose, the Ovide moralisé, the poetry and music of Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de Pizan’s Cent ballades d’amant et de dame, and Charles d’Orléans’ French and English poetry.

R         3:30 PM – 6:00 PM (McGrady)

FREN 5520/8510 – Topics in 16th Century Literature:  Masculine/Feminine: Gender, Sexuality, and Self in French Renaissance Literature

This course will examine texts from a variety of genres in which men and women of the sixteenth century write about themselves and each other, constructing similarities and differences, expressing love or hatred, admiration or rivalry, perplexity or a claim to know. What ideas of the body, sex, and gendered roles informed their thinking? In a period marked by new humanist models of learning, the perennial querelle des femmes, and the outbreak of civil war, sexual, social, political, and religious categories are at once circumscribed and fluid; the stakes of writing are high; the exploration of the self and the other in history is an undertaking at once urgent, tentative, and contested.

W        3:30 PM – 6:00 PM (Ferguson)

FREN 5585/8585 – Topics in Civilization/Cultural Studies LE SIÉCLE DES INTELLECTUELS (1898-2018)

« Intellectuel » was coined as a substantive in 1898, in the context of the Dreyfus Affair. Since then, it has remained a key notion in French social, political, and literary life. Used as a rallying cry or an insult, the word was born polemical, and never ceased to stir up controversy. In many occasions, French intellectuels proved able to considerably influence the course of national, and sometimes international, events. In that sense, telling their stories is one of the best possible introductions to French cultural, artistic and political life in the past one hundred years. Is it still the case, or is the « soft power » of French intellectuels already a thing of the past ?  

Those questions, and many others, will be addressed in this seminar.

We will follow three major paths :

1) we will contextualize the intellectuels' rise and reign, in relation with specific political events (Dreyfus Affair, antifascism, protests against colonization and colonial wars, Mai 68, etc.), but also in relation with the development of new literary genres (roman  «idéologique», roman à thèse, polemical essays, «engagés» novels or theater, «littérature de témoignage»), and new forms of interventions in the public sphere (manifeste, pétition, lettre ouverte, collective or anonymous writing, films-tracts, political graffiti, etc.)

2) we will take a fresh look at the disputes among, or about, French intellectuels, and we will revisit the notions around which authors such as Zola, Péguy, Sartre or Camus quarreled (art vs. ideology, «mystique» vs. politics, engagement vs. mauvaise foi, political partisanship vs. ethical critique, etc.) ;

3) finally, we will try to assess the status of les intellectuels today. Although anti-intellectualism is in no way a novelty, it has been boosted in recent times by a new wave of populism. Is the French intellectuel(le) an endangered species ? From Houllebecq's novels to the Gilets jaunes' street demonstrations, he or she is, in any case, the target of many attacks.  

 We will work mostly on short excerpts from various sources, political, sociological, historical, but most of all literary and philosophical  — among the latter : Zola, Barrès, Péguy, Gide, Breton, Alain, Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus, Blanchot, Barthes, Foucault, Kristeva, Lyotard, Lévy, Houllebecq.

Special guest : Prof. Martin Rueff (University of Geneva), an eminent literary critic and a poet, also an editor of Michel Foucault, will come to UVA this Fall at the invitation of the French Department, and has agreed to speak in our seminar.

Taught in French

T          3:30 PM – 6:00 PM (Roger)

FREN 7040 – Theories & 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 those theories to their own teaching experience and goals. Assignments include readings and case studies on the teaching of French, development and critique of pedagogical materials, peer observation and analysis, and a portfolio project for collecting, sharing, and reflecting on teaching methods.

Required for all GTAs teaching French at UVa for the first time. Restricted to Graduate Teaching Assistants in French. 3 credits. Students will register for the graded (letter grade) option in the SIS. Graduate exchange instructors will take the course as auditors.

TR       2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (James)

FREN 7500  - Topics in Theory and Criticism:  Literary Theory: Classic Thoughts, Modern Texts, Contemporary Debates

This course serves as an introduction to theoretical texts we encounter most frequently in the discourses of literary criticism. Our aim is to gain a deeper understanding of how literature has been thought and debated as well as how literary criticism has been practiced over time.

In the first part of the course, we will read key texts of the critical tradition from antiquity to the early twentieth century. In the second part of the course, we will survey the major theoretical movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as formalism/ structuralism/ deconstruction, reader response theory, psychoanalysis, feminism/ gender studies/ queer theory, eco-criticism/ animal studies. (Due to time constraints, we will not cover post-colonial theory and its variations in the francophone context, given that several seminars in the department treat the subject.)

M         3:30 PM – 6:00 PM (Lyu)

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