Fall 2024 Courses

For meeting times and locations please consult Yale Course Search


Conducted entirely in French

fren 110: elementary and intermediate french I 

Intensive training and practice in all the language skills, with an initial emphasis on listening and speaking. Emphasis on communicative proficiency, self-expression, and cultural insights. Extensive use of audio and video material. 

french 121: intermediate french 

Designed for initiated beginners, this course develops all the language skills with an emphasis on listening and speaking. Activities include role playing, self-expression, and discussion of cultural and literary texts. Emphasis on grammar review and acquisition of vocabulary. Frequent audio and video exercises.  Offered only in the Fall semester. 

french 125: intensive elementary french 

An accelerated course that covers in one term the material taught in FREN 110 and 120. Practice in all language skills, with emphasis on communicative proficiency. 

french 130:  intermediate and advanced french I 

The first half of a two-term sequence designed to develop students’ proficiency in the four language skill areas. Prepares students for further work in literary, language, and cultural studies, as well as for nonacademic use of French. Oral communication skills, writing practice, vocabulary expansion, and a comprehensive review of fundamental grammatical structures are integrated with the study of short stories, novels, and films. 

french 140: intermediate and advanced french II 

The second half of a two-term sequence designed to develop students’ proficiency in the four language skill areas. Introduction of more complex grammatical structures. Films and other authentic media accompany literary readings from throughout the francophone world, culminating with the reading of a longer novel and in-class presentation of student research projects. 

french 150: advanced language practice 

An advanced language course intended to improve students’ comprehension of spoken and written French as well as their speaking and writing skills. Modern fiction and nonfiction texts familiarize students with idiomatic French. Special attention to grammar review and vocabulary acquisition.


Gateway Courses

fren 160: advanced conversation through culture, film, and media (Lauren Pinzka)

Intensive oral practice designed to further skills in listening comprehension, speaking, and reading through the use of videos, films, fiction, and articles. Emphasis on contemporary French and francophone cultures. Prerequisites: FREN 150, or a satisfactory placement test score, or with permission of the course director. May be taken concurrently with or after FREN 170. Conducted in French.

fren 170:  introduction to the study of literature in french (Constance Sherak)

Introduction to close reading and analysis of literary texts written in French.
Works by authors such as Molière, Diderot, Balzac, Maupassant, Césaire, Ernaux, Ndiaye, and Laferrière 

Advanced Language Courses

fren 183: medical french: conversation and culture (léo tertrain)

An advanced language course emphasizing verbal communication and culture.  Designed to foster the acquisition of the linguistic and cultural skills required to evolve within a Francophone medical environment.  Discussions, in-class activities and group projects in simulated professional situations.  Topics such as the hospital, family physicians and nurse practitioners, medicine in Francophone Africa, humanitarian NGOs are explored through a medical textbook, articles, video clips, radio shows, films, documentaries, and excerpts from essays and literary texts.  Conducted in French.

fren 191: translation (Nichole Gleisner)

An introduction to the practice and theory of literary translation, conducted in workshop format. Stress on close reading, with emphasis initially on grammatical structures and vocabulary, subsequently on stylistics and aesthetics. Translation as a means to understand and communicate cultural difference in the case of French, African, Caribbean, and Québécois authors. Texts by Benjamin, Beckett, Borges, Steiner, and others. Conducted in English, readings in French.

General Fields Courses

fren 216: the multicultural Middle Ages (Ardis Butterfield & Marcel Elisa)

Introduction to medieval english literature and culture in its european and mediterranean context, before it became monolingual, canonical, or author-bound. genres include travel writing, epic, dream visions, mysticism, the lyric, and autobiography, from the crusades to the hundred years war, from the troubadours to dante, from the chanson de roland to chaucer. 

fren 233: novels of the twenty-first century (morgane cadieu)

Exploration of twenty-first-century novels by Bernheim, Bouraoui, Darrieussecq, Garréta, NDiaye, Modiano, Pireyre, and Volodine. Emphasis on new literary movements and genres as well as on literary life (media, prizes, publishing houses, literary quarrels, digitalization). Topics of the novels include: description of urban and rural settings; memory, war, and migrations; queer and postcolonial subjectivities; ecology; global France and world-literature. Students will be invited to select and read a novel of their choice from the Fall 2023 list of new releases. Conducted in French.

Special Topics Courses

fren 321: Corneille and Racine: Passions and Politics on the French Classical Stage (Pierre Saint-Amand)

This course consists of close readings of the major political tragedies of the classical period, from the famous dueling playwrights, Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine. We consider how the language of passions intersects with the language of politics, the dialectics of desire and violence, of Hero and State. Study of the recurring major passions: love, jealousy, hate, and how they are dealt with, sometimes repaired. We extend our study to the religious plays by the respective authors. Ability to read, write, and speak French.

FREN 330: The World of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” (Maurie Samuels)

Considered one of the greatest novels of all time, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1862) offers more than a thrilling story, unforgettable characters, and powerful writing. It offers a window into history. Working from a new translation, this seminar studies Hugo’s epic masterpiece in all its unabridged glory, but also uses it as a lens to explore the world of nineteenth-century France—including issues such as the criminal justice system, religion, poverty, social welfare, war, prostitution, industrialization, and revolution. Students gain the tools to work both as close readers and as cultural historians in order to illuminate the ways in which Hugo’s text intersects with its context. Attention is also paid to famous stage and screen adaptations of the novel: what do they get right and what do they get wrong? Taught in English, no knowledge of French is required. 

Fren 340:  Paul Celan (thomas c. connolly)

An undergraduate seminar in English exploring the life and work of Paul Celan (1920-1970), survivor of the Shoah, and one of the foremost European poets of the second half of the twentieth century. We will read from his early poems in both Romanian and German, and his published collections including Der Sand aus den Urnen, Mohn und Gedächtnis, Von Schelle zu Schelle, Sprachgitter, Die Niemandsrose, Atemwende, Fadensonnen, Lichtzwang, and Schneepart. We will also read from his rare pieces in prose and his correspondence with family, friends, and other intellectuals and poets including Bachmann, Sachs, Heidegger, Char, du Bouchet, Michaux, Ungaretti. A special focus on his poetic translations from French, but also Russian, English, American, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, and Hebrew. Critical readings draw from Szondi, Adorno, Derrida, Agamben, and others. Readings in English translation or in the original languages, as the student desires. Discussions in English.

FREN 368: Reasoning with Voltaire  (Pierre Saint-Amand)

An investigation of the French Enlightenment through its principal representative philosopher, Voltaire. An examination of Voltaire’s preoccupations, including philosophy, religion, tolerance, freedom, and human rights. Readings include Voltaire’s contes, major plays, entries from the Dictionnaire philosophique, treatises, and pamphlets. Conducted entirely in French.

Fren 378: Zombies, Witches, Goddesses: Disorderly Women in Francophone Fiction (Kaiama Glover)

This course explores configurations of the feminine as a force of disorder in prose fiction works of the 20th-century French- and Creole-speaking Americas. How do certain kinds of women characters reflect the troubling realities of the communities in which they are embedded? What alternative modes of being might these women’s non– or even anticommunal practices of freedom suggest? How are matters of the erotic, the spiritual, and the maternal implicated in Caribbean women’s relationships to their communities? Through slow and careful readings of literary fiction and critical theory, we examine the ‘troubling’ heroines presented in prose fiction works by francophone Caribbean authors of both genders, considering the thematic intersections and common formal strategies that emerge in their writing. We consider in particular the symbolic value of the ‘zombie,’ the ‘witch,’ the ‘goddess,’ and other provocative characters as so many reflections on–and of–social phenomena that mark the region and its history. 

French 404: Inventories and Inventions: “Cabinets de curiosité” and the Writing of Singularity (Dominique Brancher)

A seminar on “cabinets de curiosités” and the stories told about the objects they contain, whether real or invented. We pay close attention to catalogues, as modes of exhibition in their own right, as products of a collection, as well as vectors for the dissemination of a given collection of objects. We see how the catalogue is a textual crossroads, able to absorb, integrate, and sometimes correct developments in scholarly or travel writing. The catalogue is often also the pre-text to parodic or fictional forms. For example, some might claim to present imaginary collections. Others present themselves as real catalogs while exhibiting the signs of fabrication. Catalogues include “Le Cabinet de M. de Scudéry” (1646), “Musaeum clausum” or “Bibliotheca abscondita” by Thomas Browne (1684), and the fictitious catalogue included in Francis Bacon’s “La Nouvelle Atlantide” (1627). This course includes readings in relevant critical and theoretical literature, as well as visits to museums and libraries in New Haven. Readings and discussions in French.

Ability to read, write, and speak French.

FREN 416: Social Mobility and Migration (Morgane Cadieu)

The seminar examines the representation of upward mobility, social demotion, and interclass encounters in contemporary French literature and cinema, with an emphasis on the interaction between social class and literary style. Topics include emancipation and determinism; inequality, precarity, and class struggle; social mobility and migration; the intersectionality of class, race, gender, and sexuality; labor and the workplace; homecomings; mixed couples; and adoption. Works by Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux and her peers (Éribon, Gay, Harchi, Linhart, Louis, NDiaye, Taïa). Films by Cantet, Chou, and Diop. Theoretical excerpts by Berlant, Bourdieu, and Rancière. Students will have the option to put the French corpus in dialogue with the literature of other countries. Conducted in French. 

French 423: Interpretations: Simone Weil (Greg Ellermann)

Intensive study of the life and work of Simone Weil, one of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers. We read the iconic works that shaped Weil’s posthumous reputation as “the patron saint of all outsiders,” including the mystical aphorisms Gravity and Grace and the utopian program for a new Europe The Need for Roots. But we also examine in detail the lesser-known writings Weil published in her lifetime–writings that powerfully intervene in some of the most pressing debates of her day. Reading Weil alongside contemporaries such as Trotsky, Heidegger, Arendt, Levinas, and Césaire, we see how her thought engages key philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic problems of the twentieth century: the relation between dictatorship and democracy; empire and the critique of colonialism; the ethics of attention and affliction; modern science, technology, and the human point of view; the responsibility of the writer in times of war; beauty and the possibility of transcendence; the practice of philosophy as a way of life.