Undergraduate course descriptions

UN3240 French lang., Society, Culture Through Film
Heidi Holst-Knudsen, Tommaso Manfredini
Prerequisites: 2 years of college French. Socio-political issues and language through the prism of film. Especially designed for non-majors wishing to further develop their French language skills and learn about French culture. Each module includes assignments targeting the four language competencies: reading, writing, speaking and oral comprehension, as well as cultural understanding.

UN3242 French lang., Society, Culture Through Paris
Alexandra Borer
Prerequisite: 2 years of college French. Paris may be referred to as the capital of modernity, as the city of romance and pleasure, as the center of social and political powers, or as a privileged stage for crises and revolutions. Analyzing and researching the meanings of these diverse representations would expose students to key aspects of French and Francophone political, social, and cultural history. This is a proposal for a course intended for students who, having completed their language requirement in French, would like to better their knowledge of French language and society. It would offer students the opportunity to study representations of Paris over the centuries as a way to practice writing, reading, and conversation in French and as a way to deepen their understanding of French and Francophone cultures. Materials for the course would include major literary texts as well as paintings, movies and popular songs, but also museum websites, local newspapers and local ads, brochures from retail and food malls, restaurant menus, postcards... such variety can be utilitarian and intellectually compelling at the same time. It would allow students not only to study language registers and vocabulary contextualization but also work on finding patterns and making connections.

UN3333 Introduction to Literary Studies
Pierre Force
Reading and discussion of major works from the Middle Ages to 1750.

UN3405 Third-year Grammar & Comp.
Through the study of two full-length works of literature and a number of short texts representative of different genres, periods, and styles, students will become more aware of stylistic nuances, and will be introduced to the vocabulary and methods of literary analysis. Working on the advanced grammar points covered in this course will further strengthen their mastery of French syntax. They will also be practicing writing through a variety of exercises, including pastiches and creative pieces, as well as typically French forms of academic writing such as “résumé,” “explication de texte,” and “dissertation.

UN3420 Intro to French and Francophone Studies I
Examines conceptions of culture and civilization in France from the Enlightenment to the Exposition Coloniale of 1931, with an emphasis on the historical development and ideological foundations of French colonialism. Authors and texts include: the Encyclopédie; the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen; the Code noir; Diderot; Chateaubriand; Tocqueville; Claire de Duras; Renan; Gobineau; Gauguin; Drumont.

UN3421 Intro to French and Francophone Studies II
Jeanne Devautour
Prerequisites: FREN UN3405 Advanced Grammar and Composition or an AP score of 5 or the director of undergraduate studies permission. Universalism vs. exceptionalism, tradition vs. modernity, integration and exclusion, racial, gender, regional, and national identities are considered in this introduction to the contemporary French-speaking world in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. Authors include: Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sedar Senghor, Frantz Fanon, Maryse Condé.

UN3995 Senior Seminar
Antoine Compagnon
Prerequisites: completion of either FREN UN3333-FREN UN3334 or FREN UN3420-FREN UN3421, and FREN UN3405, or the director of undergraduate studies' or the instructor's permission. Required of all French and French & Francophone Studies majors. Usually taken by majors during the fall term of their senior year. Critical discussion of a few major literary works along with some classic commentaries on those works. Students critically assess and practice diverse methods of literary analysis.

GU4301 17th Century Literature  
Pierre Force
A one-semester survey of seventeenth-century French literature, with an emphasis on the relationship between literature and the major cultural, philosophical, and religious developments of the period.

GU4422 Baudelaire Painter of Modern Life  
Antoine Compagnon
Close reading of Baudelaire’s poetry and prose as it relates to both the painting of modernity and the resistance to modernity. The course will be taught in French.

GU4730 Discovering Existence
Bachir Diagne
A study of the theme of human existence confronted with the infinite universe of modern science (Descartes, Pascal), with the proliferation of existence (Sartre), with the absurd (Camus), with the other (Levinas).

GU4422 Versailles
Elisabeth Ladenson and Caroline Weber
This seminar will examine ancien régime culture through the history of Versailles from its origins as a hunting lodge through Louis XIV's displacement of the court to his ongoing château project, through the Revolution. We will read contemporary documents; look at cultural history, architecture and the arts; and consider film treatments from Sacha Guitry's 1954 "Si Versailles m'était conté" to the recent television series "Versailles." 

FREN UN3333 Intro to Literary Studies I
Reading and discussion of major works from the Middle Ages to 1750.

FREN UN3334 Intro to Literary Studies II
Reading and discussion of major works from 1750 to the present.

FREN UN3421 Intro to Francophone Studies II
Universalism vs. exceptionalism, tradition vs. modernity, integration and exclusion, racial, gender, regional, and national identities are considered in this introduction to the contemporary French-speaking world in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. Authors include: Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sedar Senghor, Frantz Fanon, Maryse Condé.

CLFR W3500 The Modern Novel: Balzac, Flaubert, Proust
Elisabeth Ladenson
This course will examine the genealogy of 19th- and 20th-century realism and modernism through readings of three French novels: Balzac’s Lost Illusions, Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, and Proust’s Swann’s Way.  Readings and discussion in English.


UN3600 Intro to French Civilization
Based on readings of short historical sources, the course will provide an overview of French political and cultural history since 1700.

FREN UN3622 Monsters, Fairies, and Curses: The Fantastical in Modern Francophone Literature and Cinema
Caio Ferreira
As the title suggests, this course will offer an exploration of “the fantastical” (le fantastique) across the landscape of modern Francophone literature (from the late seventeenth to the twentieth centuries) as well as cinema. In it, students will find an “alternate version” of the modern Francophone canon, one that will lead them to the same celebrated authors (from Christine de Pizan, to Voltaire, to Césaire and Maryse Condé), but through different, stranger and often neglected routes.

FREN UN3835 Violence, Politics, and the Graphic Novel
Aubrey Gabel
The French-language graphic novel as an important contemporary medium for the representation of history, politics, and violence.In the first half of the class, we will consider various historical modes of image-text forms, in the French context and beyond, including (but not limited to): Scève’s emblèmes, Hokusai’smanga, Goya’s woodcuts, and Töppfer’s proto-graphic novels; Daumier, Nadar, and Doré’s political cartoons; children’s comics (notably Tintin, Corto Maltese); and adult comics (Hari-Kiri, Charlie Hebdo, Métal Hurlant).In the latter half of the course, we will focus our attention on iconic and lesser-known French and Francophone graphic novels, attending to the particularity of this neuvième art. How does one study a popular medium that has not been canonized or is in the process of canonization? Why have bandes dessinées become an important site for representing and remembering historical trauma, from the Iranian Revolution and October 17th, 1961?

FREN GU4426 Rousseau, Women and Gender
Joanna Stalnaker
This course will tease out Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s complex and often contradictory ideas on women and gender difference in nature and society, to examine his own gender construction in his autobiographical writings, and to determine how women writers from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries have responded to these aspects of his work.

GU4002 French Theory in a Global Context
Madeleine Dobie and Thomas Dodman
Staring in the 1980s, ‘French theory,’ an eclectic corpus of philosophy, political theory, psychoanalytic and feminist thought, became a catalyzing force in North-American intellectual culture. But while ‘theory’ came to be associated with France, it was in reality a product of transcontinental colonial and postcolonial intellectual encounters and exchanges. Seminal thinkers such as Althusser, Cixous, Derrida, Fanon, Glissant, Balibar, Bourdieu and Rancière were either born or began their careers in Algeria or the Francophone Caribbean. Others, such as Kristeva and Todorov, were immigrants from Eastern Europe. This course approaches ‘French theory’ from a decolonial perspective resituating its leading thinkers, intellectual contributions and political interventions  in light of colonial hybridity, postcolonial migration, the global circulation of Marxism and psychoanalysis, and American branding and marketing. We examine influential texts from the 1950s, 60s and 70s that came to be read in new intellectual contexts in the 1980s and 90s and more recent work that has built on this seminal thinking about identity and difference, power and cultural hegemony.

The course is divided into five units, each organized around a pair of complementary terms. Neither these categories nor the readings associated with them are in any way exhaustive; rather, they introduce a few important theoretical conversations, notably at the intersections of literary and historical studies, the two fields in which the instructors of this course are trained. During the semester we explore questions about authorship and reading, canonicity and the worlding of literature, documents and emotions, and the boundedness and/or fluidity of selves and others.

GU4292 Queer Medieval France
Eliza Zingesser
What did it mean to be queer in the francophone Middle Ages? Was there such a thing? The term ‘sodomy’ was used in the period to describe a wide variety of acts (not all sexual), and the term would seem to foreclose the possibility of female same-sex eroticism. In an era in which all non-procreative sex was conceived as sinful, does the opposition between homosexual and heterosexual still hold? Was male and female homosexuality conceived symmetrically? Topics include the construction of gender (binary vs. spectral, natural vs. cultural), gender variance (transgender and nonbinary people), sodomy and the contours of “sex,” and sadomasochism. Our readings will take us through a broad range of genres—from penance manuals to lyric poetry to romance. Texts include selected lais by Marie de France, troubadour songs, Alan of Lille’s Plaint of Nature, the Roman d’Enéas (a medieval French rewriting of the Aeneid that makes Aeneas gay), Heldris of Cornwall’s Le Roman de Silence and selected saints’ lives. Class taught in English, although some readings may be available only in modern French translation (reading knowledge of French required).

(HIST) GU4110 French America, 1534-1804
Pierre Force
A study of the French Atlantic World from the exploration of Canada to the Louisiana Purchase and Haitian Independence, with a focus on the relationship between war and trade, forms of intercultural negotiation, the economics of slavery, and the changing meaning of race.