Frequently Taught Courses in French
Intermediate, Advanced, and Graduate Courses
FRE 3420 & FRE 3421 French Grammar and Composition I & II
An in-depth study of French grammar that helps students improve their writing style in French
FRE 3244 Intermediate Conversation
This course is designed to help intermediate learners of French improve their oral communication skills. Based on the textbook Cinema for French conversation that integrates a wide variety of cultural issues, this course allows students to engage in vocabulary building and extensive practice of spoken French through class and small group discussions and debates, role-play, presentations, and interviews. Supplementary materials will include videos and movies.
FRE 4410 Advanced Conversation- Dr. Marie-France Prosper-Chartier
This class develops oral expression, listening skills, and vocabulary acquisition in French in a variety of domains. We will read, analyze, discuss, and debate articles from French magazines and newspapers. In addition, we will view TV programs and other resources available online. The topics deal with various social and cultural issues of today's Francophone world and are chosen for their general interest, and their relevance to you. The course will include the viewing and discussion of at least one French or Francophone movie, listening to songs, as well as vocabulary building activities. This class also satisfies the University Oral Competency requirement. Students will develop their public speaking skills by learning principles of effective speech communication, and applying them by delivering 3 different speeches of 5-7 minutes in length: (1) Informative speech; (2) Persuasive speech (3) Special occasion speech. Requirement: A pocket book to Public Speaking, 4th edition, Dan O'Heair, Hannah Rubenstein, and Bob Stewart.
FRE 3440 Commercial French - Dr. Marie-France Prosper-Chartier
This course prepares students for work in an international environment by helping them acquire the necessary communication skills and cultural knowledge. Students learn about key Francophone countries, in particular, France and Canada, their economies as well as their administrative and company structures. Students have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to prepare them for today's competitive job market by creating a personalized professional portfolio, which will include a personal profile, resume, cover letter and job interview. In addition to authentic and up-to-date texts, the course includes viewing activities that encourage cultural analysis, and improve students' listening comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. The course is conducted entirely in French.
FRE 3501 Contemporary France - Dr. Marie-France Prosper-Chartier
This course introduces contemporary France through the study of its socio-economic, political, technological, and cultural realities and issues (its languages, traditions, education, social life, and political system), and places France in an historical and international context. Students have the opportunity to express their ideas through activities that encourage critical thinking such as in-class discussions, debates and presentations, as well as writing assignments. Additional materials include presentations, articles, videos, and the viewing of two movies exemplifying and expanding on topics covered in class. The course is conducted entirely in French.
FRE 3780 French Phonetics - Dr. Marie-France Prosper-Chartier
This course is a systematic study of the sounds of French, how they are formed (articulatory features) and how they are linked together. Students also learn the symbols of the international phonetic alphabet allowing them to identify and transcribe the standardized pronunciation of French sounds and their corresponding spellings. A good number of classes are spent in the language lab where students have the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice, thereby significantly improving their pronunciation and intonation of standard French. The course is conducted entirely in French.
FRT 3520 Francophone Cinema - Dr. Martin Munro
This course focuses on the cinematic traditions of the non-metropolitan Francophone world, chiefly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Students will learn of the historical, cultural, and social contexts in which filmmakers have produced their work. The emphasis will be on analysis and discussion of key themes and questions of style. The selection of a diverse range of films from different countries and different periods will encourage students to think comparatively, and to consider how divergent histories and cultures have created particular cinematic traditions in each country. Key themes will include: colonialism and its legacies; social class; color and race; the role of education; gender; childhood; exile, memory, and language.
FRT 3520 French Cinema - Dr. Reinier Leushuis
This course introduces students to the rich history and development of metropolitan French cinema, from the first films of the Lumière brothers in 1895 until the youngest generation of French filmmakers. Within a chronological and thematic framework, we will analyze films from the major directors and movements of French filmmaking. Students will learn of the historical, cultural, and social contexts in which filmmakers have produced their films. In doing so, students will also learn about underrepresented groups and issues of race, ethnicity, class, and gender, such as France's postcolonial and multicultural renegotiations of race and ethnicity, and the place and value of women and minority groups in French society. Moreover, this course analyzes to what extent French cinema can be called particularly 'French' by studying the influences of American filmmaking on French cinema. Finally, we will consider the contribution of French cinema to film as an art form. What was the unique creative vision of the director, screenwriter, producer, etc., and/or the 'school' to which they belonged? What were the esthetical and theoretical concerns of French cinema, how did these develop over time and how did the directors try to give shape to these concerns in the artistic elements of the movie?
FRT 3561 French Women Writers - Dr. Virginia Osborn
Students in this course will learn about, and review techniques and strategies for reading and interpreting complex literature. While we will cover a wide range of literary topics and cultural issues, students will acquire a special awareness of women writers' place in the institution of literature and will learn to identify recurrent plots, motifs and narrative techniques that women writers have adopted to express their difference.
FRW 3100 Survey of French Literature: from its origins through the 17th Century - Dr. Aimée Boutin
This course is a survey of French literature from the Middle Ages through the seventeenth century. It introduces you to the major literary genres (poetry: epic and lyric poetry, the fable; theater: comedy and tragedy; prose: the romance, the essay, the aphorism, the fairy tale) and aesthetic movements of each period, while perfecting your command of written and spoken French. This course has an important cultural component: beginning with the history of the medieval manuscript, students are introduced to the historical context of each of the works we read. We will watch historical films on these periods, read a play together in class, and analyze a variety of other cultural materials relating to early-modern France (visual arts, architecture, music, etc.).
FRW 3101 Survey of French Literature: 18th Century through the Present - Dr. Aimée Boutin
This course will introduce you to a selection of well-known works of French Literature and their cultural contexts. The readings have been chosen to exemplify the most significant literary movements of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century, including le Siècle des Lumières, le romantisme, le réalisme, la modernité, le surréalisme, l'existentialisme, and la Francophonie. By reading, writing, and participating in French, you will increase your comprehension and oral proficiency in the language. Although there will be key lectures in class every week, a substantial amount of time is devoted to discussion in French.
FRW 4770/5775 Introduction to Francophone Caribbean Culture - Dr. Martin Munro
The Francophone Caribbean consists primarily of the French Départments d'outre mer (DOMs) of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guyane, and the Republic of Haiti, independent since 1804. While these territories share a common history involving colonialism and plantation slavery, they also have widely divergent experiences in terms of political status and economics. This course will introduce students to the history and culture of these fascinating places. The focus will primarily be on the period from the mid-twentieth century to the present. In the DOMs, this period begins with the Négritude movement, moves through Frantz Fanon's critique of Négritude, Edouard Glissant's Antillanité, and ends with the Créolité movement. In Haiti, the period covered begins with the Indigenist movement, and moves through the Duvalier era, reading and viewing works that challenge traditional, masculinist versions of Haitian history. Recurring themes will include: race and color; social class; language; exile; history; and memory. Works studied will include poems, novels, films and some recent visual art from Haiti. The course is taught in French.
FRW4770/FRW5775 Vodou, Race and Revolution in Haiti, 1804-2013 - Dr. Martin Munro
Haiti is one of the most fascinating countries in the Americas. There are two dominant conceptions of Haiti: that it is the first black republic in the New World and also the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. This course seeks to understand and go beyond these two clichéd ideas of Haiti, and consider some of the diverse ways it has been represented in film, poetry, fiction, ethnography, and historiography from the eighteenth century to the present. We will consider works by Haitians, but also representations of Haiti from the outside, by European and American travelers, ethnographers, and novelists. The aim will be to set up a dialogue between the various representations and to consider how they have contributed to our understanding of this most complex and intriguing American nation. Key themes will include: race, class, violence, politics, and religion.
FRW 4460/5595 Charles Baudelaire and Poetic Modernity/Charles Baudelaire et la modernité poétique - Dr. Aimée Boutin
Considered by many to be the father of modern poetry and an undisputed precursor of Modernism, Charles Baudelaire modernized the sonnet and the lyric, developed the prose poem and also wrote important essays (on his contemporaries, on intoxicants, on music), and art criticism. We examine Baudelaire's poetic works in their broader literary, historical, and critical context, relating the poems to his prose writings, comparing them to his contemporaries' works and situating them in relation to such figurative or critical concepts such as self and other, love and suffering, good and evil, memory and loss, time and space, spleen and ideal, flânerie and modernity. In the words of Claude Pichois, one of the foremost Baudelaire scholars: « L'oeuvre de Baudelaire n'est pas une oeuvre poétique parmi d'autres ; elle est une révolution, la plus importante de toutes celles qui ont marqué le siècle ; elle décide de ce qui désormais portera nos yeux les couleurs de la poésie ».
FRW 4460/5595 Paris, Capital of the 19th Century / Paris, Capitale du XIXe siècle - Dr. Aimée Boutin
Paris is not merely the privileged decor of the 19th-century French novel. Paris, the city of Lights, is one of its most prominent and colorful protagonists. Whether contemplated, lived, dreamed, adored or despised, Paris attained mythical status in the nineteenth-century. Writers attempted to read and decipher its intriguing cultural codes and languages, and understand its changing dimensions as it grew into a modern metropolis at the center of the Western world. This class will take students on a tour of aristocratic and popular neighborhoods, old and new Paris, the criminal underworld and the artists' Bohemia, working-class Paris and the universe of Parisian women, through the writings of Balzac, Sand, Baudelaire and Zola as well as Puccini's opera La Bohème based on Murger's Scènes de la vie de bohème and Eugène Sue's Les Mystères de Paris. This interdisciplinary course will include discussions of novels, poems, paintings, photographs and opera.
FRW 4420/5586 Gender and Genre in French Renaissance Literature - Dr. Reinier Leushuis
Departing from a socio-historical context, this course will examine how literary genre shapes representations of and attitudes toward gender in the French Renaissance. How do specific literary forms, such as love poetry, humanist and courtly dialogue, Renaissance novella, and Montaigne's essay depict, criticize, idealize, parody, glorify, vilify, etc., the masculine and feminine gender as well the interaction between the sexes as it is variously defined by courtly love, sexuality, friendship, marriage, and religious practices? In our readings, we will focus not only on how the various genres treat these issues, but also on whether and how authors tried to influence society, e.g. through exemplarity. The class will be conducted in French and all course work will be written in French. This class will cover a majority of works on the MA reading list (e.g. Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron, François Rabelais's Gargantua, the poetry of Clément Marot and the Pléiade, Louise Labé's Sonnets, and Montaigne's Essays) and thus forms an excellent preparation for your MA exams.
FRW 4420/5586 Montaigne, Pascal, Descartes: Self, Reason, and the Passions in French Culture and Literature of the Late Renaissance and Early Classicism - Dr. Reinier Leushuis
This course will be an in-depth exploration of the works of these three key humanist thinkers of the early modern and classical period. We will first focus on Montaigne's Essays, which we will utilize as a prism to understand both late French Renaissance culture and the major values of humanist literature, such as the emulation of ancient rhetorical forms and philosophical schools (e.g. Stoicism, Epicureanism, skepticism), the importance of education, the concern with the individual in its socio-political and religious surroundings, and the valorization of the self as a source of doubt, judgment, and knowledge. We will also address the literary form of the essay as a protean literary space that can absorb the poetics of a variety of other genres (poetry, dialogue, oratory, etc.). Montaigne's Essays will then form the springboard for our exploration into the thought of Descartes and Pascal. We will read their works not so much for the historical impact they had on theology and/or philosophy (which is amply addressed in courses on Western philosophy), but rather for a) the way in which they both continue and transform early modern humanist concerns of self, judgment, knowledge, truth, reason, and the emotions; and b) their formal, literary, and rhetorical staging of these concerns. For instance, we will assess to what extent the famous notions of Descartes's moi pensant ("thinking self") and Pascal's roseau pensant ("thinking reed") and "order of the heart" (l'ordre du coeur: "le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas" ["The heart has reasons that reason cannot know"]) can be understood as corollaries of Montaigne's "book of the self" (Regosin).
FRW 4420/5756 - Readings in Old and Middle French - Dr. Walters
In this course we will study the language and literature of medieval Europe's most prestigious vernacular. The course has two main goals: to acquire a basic reading knowledge of Old and Middle French; to acquire a knowledge of key texts and genres (saint's life; lai; romance; fabliau; invective; etc), from the early, mostly anonymous texts of the early 9th century to those of later eras whose authors proudly proclaim their names. We will consider the question of dialect, including Anglo-Norman, the French dialect of the Norman conquerors of Britain that remained the favored vernacular well into the fourteenth century and the royal dialect of Ile de France. Of special note will be Marie de France, who wrote for the English court of Henry II; Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote for the court of Marie de Champagne, Eleanor of Aquitaine's daughter; and Christine de Pizan, whose texts, originally composed for the French royal court, were widely translated into English. In addition to providing basic reading knowledge of the language that is essential for doing research in any area of medieval studies, this course prepares students for the French MA exams in medieval literature. Offered in English. A reading knowledge of modern French is helpful.
FRE 4930/FRE 5900 The Female Public Intellectual - Dr. Walters
In this linked graduate and undergraduate course offered in English, we will consider female public intellectuals, from the Middle Ages to the present day, who worked in, or commented upon, various media: hand-written manuscripts; printed books; photography; film; and did so in various languages: Latin, French, English, German. Women studied will include Hildegard von Bingen, Christine de Pizan, Emilie du Chatelet, Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, and Margaretta von Trotta. We will situate these figures within larger gender and human rights issues. The course will feature guest lecturers; in the past these have included Charles Brewer (Music), Nathan Stoltzfus (History) and Daniel Meier-Katkin (Criminology).
FRW 4420/5756 Christine de Pizan and the Queen's Manuscript - Dr. Walters
In this seminar we will study how Christine de Pizan (1365-ca.1430) promoted her own image and that of the Queen of France in the so-called "Queen's MS," a collection of 30 of Christine's texts that she offered to Queen Ysabel de Bavière on New Year's Day 1414. Students will consult the manuscript online and do "hands-on" study in workshops organized around the sections of the 398-folio manuscript. We will consider Christine in her diverse roles as poet, political commentator, and bookmaker. As the head of her own scriptorium, Christine acted variously as the manuscript's scribe, textual editor, and planner of its 133 miniatures. We will see how in the Queen's MS, described as the "culmination of her career as author and as publisher," Christine strives to legitimize the queen's rapidly expanding functions as well as her own historically remarkable position as a female royal advisor and book producer.
FRW 4420/5419 Text/Image/Manuscript - Dr. Walters
In this seminar we will study the theory and practice of medieval compilatio, the principle by which both texts and manuscript collections were assembled into coherent wholes from smaller parts. The course focuses on Christine de Pizan (the quintessential compiler and author), the Romance of the Rose, and Chrétien de Troyes, all of which greatly influenced English, German, and other Romance traditions. We will consider in particular the way illuminations were used to add an additional layer of meaning to collections. Digital surrogates will be consulted whenever possible, in particular the Johns Hopkins site combining manuscripts of the Romance of the Rose and Christine de Pizan.
FRE 5060/5069 Graduate Reading Knowledge, Class and Exam - Dr. Marie-France Prosper-Chartier
This course provides a systematic approach to, and strategies for, reading French scholarly texts and translating them into English. Basic vocabulary and grammatical structures are introduced, and students have the opportunity to practice reading comprehension and translating French texts into English throughout the semester. This course prepares students for the language requirement exam administered at the end of the semester.