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 and Ramla bédoui)

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 241: After the War, Novels after 1945, French and German (Rudiger Campe)

How to write, how to narrate after war? In this course we read alternatingly some of the greatest novels and novellas after 1945 (until ca. 1968) from German speaking countries and from France. This can but does not necessarily mean novels about fascism and democracy, aggression and resistance (Sartre, Grass). It also means negotiating radical break and reorientation, politically and ideologically (German “Zero Hour”, the absurd, existentialism in France); and the attempt to reinvent literary writing in general (‘nouveau roman’ in France, Handke and Bernard in Austria). Further authors include Camus, Duras, Robbe-Grillet, Le Clezio, Koeppen, Wolf, Handke, Bachmann.

french 284: Of Humans and Animals - Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) and Other Fabulists (dominique brancher)

This course explores the poetic, political, and philosophical issues at stake in the life of Jean de la Fontaine and the other fabulists, or fables, of the 17th Century. By placing it in dialogue with the fables that served as its model (ancient or later) and the various zoological, botanical, mythological, and fictional texts that nourished it. We also examine the text’s deeply reflexive dimension that, by constantly featuring talking animals and even plants, questions the very powers of speech, whether words can save or destroy, and the role of the poet in France, where absolutist monarchist power was gaining ground.  Conducted in French.

Special Topics Courses

fren 331: the french enlightenment and the pursuit of happiness (pierre saint-amand)

French Revolutionary Saint-Just famously declared: “happiness is a new idea in Europe.” It is certainly a major concern in the eighteenth century. Whether envisioned as an individual or a collective pursuit the quest for happiness increasingly moves away from the realm of theology to become secularized and democratized. This course proposes to study how the writers of the period introduced the idea of happiness in their works, both literary and philosophical. Readings in Abbé Prévost, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Giacomo Casanova, Denis Diderot, Mme de Charrière, Voltaire, and others. 

This course is conducted in French at L5 level.

FREN 345: The Prose Poem  (thomas c. connolly)

An examination of the poème en prose, from its beginnings as a response to the inadequacy of French verse forms through its emergence as an independent genre.

Ability to read and discuss in French

Fren 362:  Mid-Century Modern Memoir (alice kaplan)

Autobiography came into its own as a literary genre in the 20th century, and it is as varied as fiction in its ambitions and approach. The seminar is divided into four units: Memories of Childhood (Sartre, Sarraute, Camus); WWII memoirs (Duras, Bloch, Gold); braided autobiography and biography (Modiano, Ernaux, Beauvoir); and revolutionary autobiography (Fanon, Mokhtefi and Drif). WR designation

The class is taught in English with readings in translation; previous course work in  literature is helpful but not required.

FREN 365: Haiti in the Age of Revolutions(marlene daut)

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance. This class studies the collection of slave revolts and military strikes beginning in August of 1791 that resulted in the eventual abolition of slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue and its subsequent independence and rebirth in January of 1804 as Haiti, the first independent and slavery-free nation of the American hemisphere. Considering Haiti’s war of independence in the broader context of the Age of Revolutions, we cover topics such as enlightenment thought, natural history, the workings and politics of the printing press, and representations of the Haitian Revolution in art, literature, music, and in various kinds of historical writings and archival documents. Students develop an understanding of the relevant scholarship on the Haitian Revolution as they consider the relationship of this important event to the way it was written about both as it unfolded and in its long wake leading up to the present day.

Fren 370: Caribbean Poetry in French (thomas c. connolly)

An introduction to Caribbean poetry in French from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Topics covered will include literary, social, and political movements including surrealism, colonization, decolonization, immigration, the relation of French to other languages of the Caribbean including Créole, Spanish, and English, and points of contact between poetry, music, theater, and the visual arts. Students will learn how to read, comment on, and write about poetry. Primary authors will include Étienne Léro, Aimé Césaire, Saint-John Perse, Magloire-Saint-Aude, Édouard Glissant, René Depestre, Davertige, Jean Métellus, Raphaël Confiant, Suzanne Dracius, and Patrick Chamoiseau. Readings, assignments, and discussions in French.

Ability to read, write, and discuss in French.

FREN 382: Zombies, Witches, Gods, and Spirits in Caribbean Literature (Marlene daut)

This course delves into the rich tapestry of Caribbean literature through the lens of the seemingly supernatural, such as zombies, witches, gods, and spirits. Throughout the semester, students critically analyze a diverse range of texts by authors as varied as Edwidge Danticat, René Depestre, Derek Walcott, Alejo Carpentier, Jean Rhys, and Aimé Césaire, and others, to explore how Caribbean authors have employed other worldly elements as powerful metaphors for colonialism and resistance, trauma and cultural memory.

French 384: Representing the Holocaust (maurie samuels & Penny marcus)

The Holocaust as it has been depicted in books and films, and as written and recorded by survivors in different languages including French and Italian. Questions of aesthetics and authority, language and its limits, ethical engagement, metaphors and memory, and narrative adequacy to record historical truth. Interactive discussions about films (Life Is Beautiful, Schindler’s List, Shoah), novels, memoirs (Primo Levi, Charlotte Delbo, Art Spiegelman), commentaries, theoretical writings, and testimonies from Yale’s Fortunoff Video Archive.

fren 481: Racial Republic: African Diasporic Literature and Culture in Postcolonial France (Fadila Habchi)

This is an interdisciplinary seminar on French cultural history from the 1930s to the present. We focus on issues concerning race and gender in the context of colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration. The course investigates how the silencing of colonial history has been made possible culturally and ideologically, and how this silencing has in turn been central to the reorganizing of French culture and society from the period of decolonization to the present. We ask how racial regimes and spaces have been constructed in French colonial discourses and how these constructions have evolved in postcolonial France. We examine postcolonial African diasporic literary writings, films, and other cultural productions that have explored the complex relations between race, colonialism, historical silences, republican universalism, and color-blindness. Topics include the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Black Paris, decolonization, universalism, the Trente Glorieuses, the Paris massacre of 1961, anti-racist movements, the “beur” author, memory, the 2005 riots, and contemporary afro-feminist and decolonial movements.