Courses

RLFR 101(F)Introduction to French Language and Francophone Cultures

This year-long course offers a complete introduction to the French language and is designed to help you become fully conversant in French by focusing on four fundamental language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Through daily practice, class activities, interactive discussion, listening exercises, written work, reading assignments, and active engagement with music, video, and film, you will quickly gain confidence and increasing facility with your abilities to speak and understand both spoken and written French. In addition, our study of grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills will be organized around an engaging and dynamic introduction to a variety of French-speaking cultures around the world, from France and Belgium, to Quebec and Martinique, to Senegal and Morocco. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 102(S)Introduction to French Language and Francophone Cultures

This year-long course offers a complete introduction to the French language and is designed to help you become fully conversant in French by focusing on four fundamental language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Through daily practice, class activities, interactive discussion, listening exercises, written work, reading assignments, video-observations, and film-viewing, you will quickly gain confidence and increasing facility with your abilities to speak and understand both spoken and written French. In addition, our study of grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills will be organized around an engaging and dynamic introduction to a variety of French-speaking cultures around the world, from France and Belgium, to Quebec and Martinique, to Senegal and Morocco.Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 103(F)Intermediate Studies in French Language and Francophone Cultures

This first-semester intermediate course builds on RLFR 101-102, with added focus on French-speaking cultures around the globe. The course prepares students for future study in French by increasing comprehension and communication skills, by refining lexical and cultural awareness, and by improving reading and writing. Daily work involves an expanded review of core grammatical structures and an exploration of various media, including film, music, and print. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 104(S)Intermediate French II: Advanced Intermediate Studies in French

As a continuation of French 103, this course "Images vivantes dans les arts et la litterature" is primarily conceived to enable students to express themselves with fluency and to easily comprehend the spoken and written language. The course is based on the concept that one can read images in any art form (portraits, landscapes, etc...) and pair them with passages taken from French fiction or poetry, comparing them, exploring their meaning, developing a wide range of vocabulary. Students will read creatively and in depth, express their ideas orally and in writing, and listen to interviews of artists and writers.Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 105(F)Advanced French: Advanced Studies in French Language and Francophone Culture

In this course, we will concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and polish your written and oral skills while focusing on the analysis of French and Francophone cultures and the concepts that define them. In particular, we will explore three themes: aimer, avoir peur, and le passe colonial as they relate to national identity in France, North Africa, and the French Caribbean. We will read short literary, theoretical and historical texts, and explore the production of popular culture and how it informs contemporary France. At the same time, we will review and practice advanced grammar concepts. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 106(S)Advanced French: Danger and Desire in French Film and Fiction

This is an advanced course in French language designed to help you improve your speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing, through the dynamic study of short literary texts and films focusing on danger and desire in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century France. Through active discussion and debate, textual and cinematic analysis, grammatical review, and careful writing and revision, you will improve your command of spoken and written French, strengthen your ability to express complex ideas, expand your vocabulary, and deepen your understanding of French fiction, film, and culture. This is an ideal course to prepare for study abroad or for more advanced coursework in French literature and cinema. As a focus for improving your French, we will examine a broad range of texts and films on danger and desire in France from 1830 to 2010, with an emphasis on passion and ambition, infatuation and seduction, betrayal and vengeance, courage and cruelty, warfare and resistance. Works to include nineteenth-century texts by Chateaubriand, Duras, Balzac, Merimee, Flaubert, Maupassant, Zola; twentieth-century texts by Colette, Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, Duras, Ernaux, Guibert, Quint, Lindon, Vilrouge; and twenty-first-century films by Caron, Ozon, Ducastel, Martineau, Dercourt, and Becker. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 201The Voice and the Book: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern France

Not offered this year

We are a society of silent readers. Our eyes move back and forth over words on a screen or page, and the act feels private, interior. In earlier times, however, people interacted differently with texts. Besides silent reading, texts were transmitted through recitation and improvisation for groups of listeners. This course offers an introduction to the key periods, artistic movements, and genres of medieval and early modern France as they come to bear on the relationship between literature and orality. How did literary forms circulate and develop before and after the invention of the printing press? When did people who write become "writers?" Who read, heard, and performed texts? Who didn't? Over the course of the semester, students will complete regular creative and analytical exercises, visit the Chapin Library and Special Collections, meet with guest speakers, and practice declamation and performance. Readings to include anonymous authors as well as Marie de France, Villon, Labe, Ronsard, Moliere, La Fontaine, Lafayette, Voltaire, Rousseau. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 202(F)War and Resistance: Two Centuries of War Literature in France (1804-2016)

In 1883, Maupassant called on his fellow war veterans and writers to join him in speaking out against warfare and violence, crying "Let us dishonor war!" From the Gallic Wars against Caesar (during the first century BC) to the recent terrorist attacks in France (at the opening of the twenty-first century), the French literary tradition is rich in texts that bear witness to war and speak out against its monstrous inhumanity. While war literature in France can be traced back to ancient and medieval texts on Vercingetorix, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, and Joan of Arc, this course will focus specifically on literary representations of war during the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, from the Napoleonic Wars, to the First and Second World Wars, to the Algerian and Cold Wars, and the "War on Terror." Discussions will examine the impact of war on soldiers and civilians, patriotism and pacifism, history and memory; the implications of war as invasion and conquest, occupation and resistance, victory and defeat; the relationship of war to gender, sexuality, and ethnicity; and the role of war in colonialism and genocide. Readings to include novels, short stories, and poems by Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Rimbaud, Daudet, Maupassant, Zola, Cocteau, Wiesel, Duras, Camus, and Fanon. Films to include works by Resnais, Renoir, Carion, Jeunet, Malle, Angelo, Pontecorvo, and Duras. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 203Introduction to Francophone Literatures

Not offered this year

What is the Francophone world comprised of? Who speaks French today and why? What does the idea of Francophonie really mean? Is this term really relevant? Why, how, and by whom is this idea being criticized? How does the litterature-monde manifesto fit within these interrogations? Is the French-speaking world merely a linguistic community or is it also a political, cultural, and economic project? Last but not least, why is the idea of Francophonie so important for France? We will answer these questions through the lens of literary and cinematic texts from Quebec, Senegal, Vietnam, France (l'hexagone), and Haiti among others. [ more ]

RLFR 204Intro to French Literature: French Drama from Classicism to the Theatre of the Absurd

Not offered this year

What can we learn about French society through its theater? This course proposes to examine the evolution of French plays from the 17th to the 20th century within their political, social and cultural contexts. Readings plays by Moliere, Beaumarchais, Musset, Anouilh, Becket and Ionesco will allow students to see how the theater as a genre engages the public through self-reflection and analysis. Readings will be complemented by theoretical texts and film versions of the plays. Questions regarding the nature of the play itself (dramatic structure), the role of space and the role of language, the importance of acting and the public's involvement will be examined and will evolve, into a mini staging of our own. [ more ]

RLFR 206Outsiders in French and Francophone Film: Cinematic Adaptations of Literary Texts

Not offered this year

The banlieue looms large in the French collective imagination. From its origins in medieval law, the term banlieue at the end of the 20th century has taken on multiple, at times overlapping but almost exclusively negative meanings. It designates a peripheral geographical space often in contrast to its city center, social exclusion, the "urban culture"--as in Hip Hop--produced within that space, and last but not least the symbolic bias through which its inhabitants are viewed (Vieillard-Baron). In this course, we will examine various constructions of the banlieue in French music, film, blogs, and literature to focus on the analytical, contestatory and affirmative dimensions of these narratives. Two decades after the landmark film La haine (1995) and ten years after the 2005 and 2007 riots, how are filmmakers, artists, authors, and scholars of the banlieue reimagining and reframing the banlieue? What do current depictions of banlieues in the French media tell us about the State, French politics, and the state of French politics? What do "banlieue films" and "banlieue lit" tell us about the banlieue? [ more ]

RLFR 224Sexuality and Seduction in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century France

Not offered this year

In 1857, both Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal were put on trial for sexual indecency and "crimes against public morality." In 1868, Le Figaro attacked Zola's novel Therese Raquin as "putrid literature" for its depiction of adultery, murder, and scandalous sexuality in nineteenth-century Paris. A century later, Gide, Colette, and Duras continued to shock French readers with their extraordinary novels on male and female homosexuality, inter-generational lovers, and bi-racial relationships. In this course, we will examine a wide range of issues on eroticism and sexuality in nineteenth- and twentieth- century French literature, including marriage and adultery, seduction and desire, love and betrayal, prostitution and fetishism, gay and lesbian identity, cross-dressing and gender representation, exoticism and colonial (s)exploitation. Readings to include novels, shorts stories, and poems by Chateaubriand, Constant, Duras, Balzac, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Zola, Maupassant, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Gide, Proust, Colette, Duras, and Guibert. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 226(S)Black France/France Noire

On the eve of the new millennium, the year 1998 saw the emergence in France of "Black studies a la francaise" (Ndiaye). Inspired, in part, by the 150th anniversary of the 1848 abolition of slavery, the French black minority "made itself more visible" (Faes and Smith). This course examines a wide range of discursive practices through which athletes, artists, authors, politicians, activists, and scholars amplified their voices in the French hexagone. It retraces the rise of these discourses and how they assert, reframe, and establish blackness as a legitimate field of knowledge and a space of contestation. Following a study of the interwar period (1918-1939), when the work of "negritude women" (Sharpley-Whiting) such as "afro-latinite" spurred the negritude movement, we will discuss publications, documentaries, and seminal moments of protest in the early twenty-first century. Course material may include works by Suzanne Cesaire, Jane and Paulette Nardal, Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Francoise Verges, Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel and Sandrine Lemaire, Pap Ndiaye, Gaston Kelman, Rokhaya Diallo, Alice Diop, Leonora Miano, and Fabienne and Veronique Kanor. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 228(S)Introduction to French and Francophone Film

In this course, we watch and examine seminal French and Francophone films. Starting with early French cinema and silent movies of the end of the nineteenth century, we continue with landmark films from the 1920s, '30s and '40s. World War II serves as a point of rupture to explore how the advent of Francophone film parallels postcolonial theory. Throughout the semester, we discuss film as spectacle, the emergence of narrative forms, innovative technical practice and their connection to aesthetics. We also look at the role of film in addressing larger questions that include acts of rebellion, decolonization, the radical rejection of societal values, colonialism, dislocation, alienation, French collaboration during the German occupation, and the intersection of history and biography, as well as migration, in between-ness, and transnationalism. Films from the Lumiere brothers, Melies, Guy-Blache, Vigo, Truffaut, Sembene, Mambety, Malle, Varda, Palcy, Peck, and Sissako. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 229 T(S)Coffee, Sugar, Wigs, and Desks: Writing and Material Life in Early Modern France

This tutorial considers the relationship between slavery, colonial commerce, and the burgeoning market in material and cultural goods. We look at France's "consumer revolution" through the lens of four material objects--sugar, coffee, wigs, and desks--to consider how eighteenth-century concepts of race, gender, and social status related to taste, sociability, appearance, and writerly identity. Readings by Voltaire, Aulnoy, Genlis, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, and others will be paired with critical texts from literary and material historians as well as objects found in local collections. [ more ]

RLFR 230Introduction to French Stylistics: The Art of Pastiche

Not offered this year

Generally speaking, pasticheurs are derivative artists. Yet many of France's most original authors were agile pasticheurs, among them La Bruyere, Proust, and the experimental writers of the OuLiPo movement. What might the art of pastiche suggest about the relationship between imitation and creation, tradition and innovation, and past and present? Discussion of such questions will be grounded in the study of short texts by Rimbaud (as Villon), Zalmanski (as Madame de Sevigne), Janin (as Diderot), Flaubert (as Chateaubriand), and Queneau (as Proust). Analysis and explication of pastiches will strengthen students' technical grasp of French. In the second half of the semester, students will apply their rhetorical, syntactical, and stylistic knowledge through weekly pastiche exercises, submitted as a final portfolio at semester's end. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 240The Banlieue in literature, Music, and Film

Not offered this year

In this course we will read, watch, and listen to various constructions of the banlieue in French music, film, and literature to focus on the contestatory and affirmative dimensions of these narratives. [ more ]

RLFR 250Women in Print:Gender, Power, and Publishing in Seventeenth-and Eighteenth-Century France

Not offered this year

What did it mean to publish--or not--"as a woman" in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France? Why did writers adopt or reject a feminine pen name at a time of women's legal, economic, and social subordination? Readings from Scudery, La Fayette, Guilleragues, Graffigny, Gouges, and Duras will be informed by contemporary theoretical and historical work on gender, authorship, and women's participation in political, religious, and public life. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 260(F)Reading Comics from the French-Speaking World

From political cartoons and satire of the 19th century to contemporary graphic novels, the bande dessinee has a long history in the French-speaking world. We will read classics such as Asterix and Tintin, and contemporary BD from France, Quebec, Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, and Guadeloupe to analyze how they tackle subjects such as nation, empire, sexuality, biography, war and human rights. We will pay attention to the visual form and critical theory of the genre. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 261Haitian and French Caribbean Literatures and Films

Not offered this year

Over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, authors and filmmakers have questioned prevalent representations of the Creole and French-speaking Caribbean such as the idea of Haiti as the First Black republic and the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere and and of Martinique and Guadeloupe as the "French" Caribbean. They have also interrogated their forebears by reclaiming modernity, reframing History, and telling "intimist" stories (Ferly). This course focuses on the diverging paths by Haitian and French Caribbean literatures (short stories, play, poem, novels) and film (short, feature and documentaries) as critical interventions that bring into focus slavery, identity, exile, migration, imperialism, culture, and (non) sovereignty. [ more ]

RLFR 309(F)Contemporary Short Stories from North Africa

Short stories are the vibrant center of the literary landscape in North Africa today. Written in French, Arabic and sometimes Amazigh languages, short stories provide timely interventions in political and social discourse. In this course, we will read short stories that use humor and satire to address the effects of globalization on local communities, that experiment with language to portray war and revolution, and that seek to create a new space for the discussion of gender. We will also analyze films, sociological texts and Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian online newspapers in order to explore contemporary transformations of life in North Africa. Readings by Maissa Bey, Abdelfattah Kilito, Zeina Tabi, Mohamed Zafzaf, Ahmed Bouzfour, Soumaya Zahy and Fouad Laroui among others. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 312Francographic Islands

Not offered this year

Utopia, paradise, shipwreck, abandonment, exile, death. Man's fascination and obsession with the island as place of discovery, beauty and imprisonment stretches across the centuries. In this class, we will read French literary and imagined islands alongside islands constructed by Francophone Caribbean, Indian Ocean and non-Western writers in French. What does the island symbolize in individual, community, national, and imperial imaginations? And how does the island become an agent in discussions of gender, race, modernity and history? Readings will include works by Paul Gauguin, Pierre Loti, Aime Cesaire, Michel Tournier, Ananda Devi, Maryse Conde, Patrick Chamoiseau and Edouard Glissant. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 316(S)Paris on Fire: Incendiary Voices from the City of Light (1830-2015)

During the 1830s, Balzac described Paris as a "surprising assemblage of movements, machines, and ideas, a city of one hundred thousand novels, the head of the world," but also characterized the French capital as a "land of contrasts," a "monstrous wonder," a "moral sewer." Similarly, writers from Hugo to Zola have simultaneously celebrated Parisian elegance and condemned the appalling misery of Paris's urban poor. Since 1889, Paris has been feted as the "City of Light" for its Enlightenment legacy, its Eiffel Tower modernity, and its luminous urban energy, captured in countless paintings, photographs, and film. However, Paris is also the historical site of revolution, resistance, and riots. From revolutionary revolt (1830, 1848, 1871), to wartime resistance (1870, 1914-18, 1940-44), to reformist and race riots (1968 and 2005), Paris has repetitively sparked with incendiary passion and political protest. As fires raged during the riots in 2005, many heard the echo of Hitler's ominous 1944 question, "Is Paris burning?" and asked: why was Paris burning again at the dawn of the twenty-first century? And following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, many wonder what lies ahead for the City of Light. To answer these questions, we will examine the social, political, and literary landscape of Paris during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from urbanization and modernization, to occupation and liberation, to immigration and globalization. Readings to include poetry, short stories, and novels by Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Verne, Zola, Apollinaire, Colette, Duras, Perec, Rochefort, and Charef. Films to include works by Clair, Truffaut, Godard, Minnelli, Clement, Lelouch, Luhrmann, Kassovitz, Besson, and Jeunet.Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 318Twentieth-Century French Novel: From Adversity to Modernity

Not offered this year

In his futurist novel Paris in the Twentieth Century (1863), Jules Verne envisions an era of technological superiority, complete with hydrogen cars and high-speed trains, televisions and skyscrapers, computers and the internet. But in Verne's vision of modernity, technological sophistication gives way to intellectual stagnation and social indifference, in a world where poetry and literature have been abandoned in favor bureaucratic efficiency, mechanized surveillance, and the merciless pursuit of profit. To contest or confirm this dystopic vision, we will examine a broad range of twentieth-century novels and their focus on adversity and modernity. In a century dominated by the devastation of two World Wars, the atrocities of colonial empire, and massive social and political transformation, the novel both documented and interrogated France's engagement with race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, colonialism and immigration. Within this historical context, we will discuss the role of the novel in confronting war and disease, challenging poverty and greed, and exposing urban isolation and cultural alienation in twentieth-century France. Readings to include novels by Colette, Genet, Camus, Duras, Ernaux, Guibert, Begag. Lectures to include discussions of Gide, Proust, Sartre, Beauvoir, Cixous, Foucault, Jelloun, Djebar. Films to include works by Fassbinder, Annaud, Lioret, Ducastel, Martineau, Techine, Charef. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 326Moliere in Performance

Not offered this year

Like Shakespeare, the work of France's greatest playwright is less a timeless monument than a living body perpetually in motion. This course offers a dual approach to the theater of Moliere. The first half of the semester will focus on readings and analysis of printed plays in the context of the seventeenth century. The second half of the semester focuses on a collective project that combines student research and performance of a single play. Possible worsk: Les Femmes savantes, L'Ecole des femmes, Le Misanthrope, L'Avare, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Throughout the semester, we will explore the dynamic relationships between tradition and innovation, elite and popular culture, actors and audience, past and present. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 410Senior Seminar: Landscapes of Movement and Migration in French

Not offered this year

How do migration and movement construct and disrupt landscapes of identity--home, city and nation--in the French-speaking world? How do migration and movement contribute to conditions of alienation, nostalgia and violence? This seminar explores such fundamental questions and asks us to think about how in an increasingly mobile and de-territorialized world, place is imagined, experienced and remembered. Over the course of the semester, we will examine theoretical texts on memory, space, identity and movement, and analyze literary and film narratives of migration that focus on: the immigration experience in France, the construction of an Atlantic identity between Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the Americas, internal migration between the country and the city, clandestine migration between Africa and Europe, population displacement due to war, and the possibility of creating portable places of memory. Works by Nora, Benjamin, Deleuze, Barthes, Charef, Chamoiseau, Glissant, Diome, Conde, Mernissi, Poulain, Pineau, Sembene, and Binebine among others. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 412Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century French Novel: Desperate Housewives and Extreme Makeovers

Not offered this year

In 1834, Balzac wrote that "Paris is a veritable ocean. Sound it: you will never know its depth." The same can be said of the French nineteenth-century novel and its boundless ability to echo the past and illuminate the present. From the Romanticism of Stendhal and Hugo, and the Realism of Balzac and Flaubert, to the Naturalism of Zola and Maupassant, the novel became a forum for examining illicit sexuality, institutional misogyny, social injustice, criminal passions, revolutionary struggles, and Parisian pleasures in nineteenth-century France. Characters such as the imprisoned housewife Emma Bovary, the reluctant revolutionary Jean Valjean, the social-climbing lover Julien Sorel, the ambitious undergraduate Rastignac, and the domestically-abused Gervaise became synonymous with France's turbulent social and political landscape from the 1830s to the 1880s. And as recent film adaptations make clear, these desperate housewives and extreme makeovers continue to haunt our twenty-first century present. Reinterpreted by such actors as Gerard Depardieu, Isabelle Huppert, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes, and Jennifer Aniston, the nineteenth-century novel continues to sound out the scandalous and sensational depths of our own century. Readings to include novels by Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, Zola. Films to include adaptations by Clement, Berri, August, Arteta, Lelouch, Chabrol. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 415(S)Senior Seminar: Banned In France: Literature and Censorship in the Eighteenth-Century

This seminar will explore the role of censorship in eighteenth-century France, another complex period transformed in part by unprecedented access to knowledge. Students will critically assess a range of works that were, before or after publication, repressed or altered by various religious and civil authorities, editors, publishers, and, in some cases, audiences. Discussions will focus on the formal and thematic content of each work, as well as its broader place in Enlightenment and French Revolutionary literature and culture. Analysis of such historically-specific concepts as tolerance, obscenity, and public censorship will be supported by critical work and commentary from the eighteenth century and the present day. As a central feature of the course, students will conduct a semester-long research project that will draw on readings which may include Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Sade, Beaumarchais, Chenier, Gouges, Charriere, Stael, and others. Key issues include copyright and the literary market, self-censorship, public opinion and public censure, gender and canon formation, blasphemy, pornography, and the politics of incitement. Conducted in French. [ more ]

RLFR 511(F)Intensive French Grammar and Translation

This course is designed to offer students a thorough and systematic review of sentence structures and grammar to develop a reading knowledge of French. Through this intensive study, students will learn to decipher the subtleties of the written language, and as they become more confident they will start translating a variety of short excerpts. Students are also expected to learn and develop a wide lexical range centered on art history and criticism, but not limited to it. [ more ]

RLFR 512(S)Readings in French Art History and Criticism

This course is designed to provide Graduate Program students and interested others with knowledge of French acquired through translation and interpretation. The core of this course is based on the reading and translating of a variety of critical works covering different periods and genres in the field of art history. The material read (excerpts from museum catalogues; the Gazette des Beaux-Arts and other publications; Salons by Diderot, Baudelaire, and Thore; artists on their works; and critics such as Francastel, Ch. Sterling, M. Fare, Valery, Focillon) will be analyzed in form and content, translated or summarized, in order to develop the skills and understand the techniques necessary for reading French acurately. Grammar will be reviewed in context. [ more ]