Spring 2020 Course Offerings


Gateway courses

FREN 160             Advanced Culture and Conversation

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

Introduction to close reading and analysis of literary texts written in French. Works by authors such as Marie de France, Molière, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, Duras, Proust, and Genet. Conducted in French.

Advanced Language Course

FREN 182b           Creative and Critical Writing Workshop

An advanced writing course for students who wish to work intensively on perfecting their written French. Frequent compositions of varying lengths, including creative writing, rédactions (compositions on concrete topics), and dissertations (critical essays). Recommended for prospective majors. Conducted in French.

FREN 184b           Business French: Communication and Culture

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 French business environment.  Discussions, in-class activities and group projects in simulated professional situations.  Topics such as the liberalization of the French economy, trading in the European Union, new forms of business organizations, globalization are explored through a business textbook, articles, video clips, radio shows, films, documentaries, and excerpts from essays and literary texts.  Conducted in French.

FREN 192b           Intermediate Literary Translation

A continuation of FREN 191a for students who wish to work on a longer project and to deepen their reading in translation theory. Conducted in English, readings in French.

General fields courses

FREN 240                The Modern French Novel (Alice Kaplan and Maurice Samuels)

A survey of major French novels, considering style and story, literary and intellectual movements, and historical contexts. Writers include Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, Camus, and Sartre. Conducted in English, readings in French or English translation, one section conducted in French.

Special topics courses

FREN 307             Trains in French Literature, Film, and History (Morgane Cadieu)

The aesthetics of trains in French and Francophone literature and culture. Survey of major literary movements in France from the nineteenth century to the present; trains and subways in French film, visual arts, and comics; the role of trains in French history, including industrialization, deportation, and colonization; theory on cities and public transportation.

FREN 366             Writers and Artists in Paris, 1780–1914 (Marie-Hélène Girard)

Ways in which the transformation of Paris shaped the representation of artists who lived and worked in the French capital from the end of the Old Regime until the eve of World War I. The emergence of Paris as a cultural marker; the role played by the image of the bohemian or the artiste maudit. Authors and artists include David, Balzac, Delacroix, Baudelaire, Manet, Mallarmé, impressionist painters, and Picasso.

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 369             Deserts, Oceans, Islands: Literature of Migration & Refuge (Jill Jarvis)

A critical study of literature and film that charts different spaces shaped by intersecting—or colliding—routes of colonization and forced migration: deserts (Sahara, Sonoran), oceans (Indian, Atlantic, Mediterranean), and islands (Haiti, Martinique, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Sri Lanka). Students will also contribute to the Desert Futures interdisciplinary symposium that will be held at Yale in spring 2020. Reading knowledge of French is required. Seminar is conducted in English.

FREN 388             Feminine Voices in French Literature (R. Howard Bloch)

An exploration of women’s voices in French literature from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century. The specificity of the feminine voice, the plurality of feminine voices, love and sexuality, and social and professional identity. Authors include Marie de France, Marguerite de Navarre, George Sand, Maryse Condé, and Marguerite Duras.

FREN 391             Fake News and True Stories (Christophe Schuwey)

The rise of newspapers and the development of the information culture in the age of Versailles deeply transformed French literature and the relationship of readers to truth and fiction. On the one hand, reading the news became a leisure activity, which created issues surprisingly similar to our contemporary « Fake news » phenomenon. On the other hand, realism became the new paradigm for literature, as audiences craved stories and plays depicting their own world. Authors turned information, rumors, and gossip into novels, comedies and tragedies. Through works by Molière, La Fayette, Donneau de Visé, Scudéry, Racine and Corneille as well as the first newspapers, we will explore this critical moment that built our modern relationship to fiction and information.

FREN 394             French Cinema through the New Wave (Dudley Andrew)

The history of French cinema c. 1930 to 1970, from the onset of sound through the New Wave movement. The New Wave “idea of cinema”; the relation of cinema to national self-perception and state policy in France.


Freshman Seminar

FREN 096                Women’s Narratives of Self in Modern French Literature (Maryam Sanjabi)

The course explores women’s autobiographical literature, demonstrating their uniqueness from an individual perspective and capturing the social, economic, religious, and ethnic themes of the period and their authors’ intellectual standpoints. The selected books represent a variety of literary genres ranging from memoir to journal, graphic novel, and film scripts with a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries as they appear in the works of: Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, Nathalie Sarraute, Lucie Aubrac, Hélène Berr, Assia Djebar, Ken Bugul, Agnès Varda, Marjane Satrapi, Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux, and Camille Laurens among others. This course thus aims at a critical awareness of what modernity has meant in women’s experiences and why debate about its consequences often revolves around women’s lives. While some authors explore the coming of age of European gender awareness, others deal with the war and resistance and more recent non-Western voices in French pose the question of identity of the “Other.” Course readings include short theoretical essays and a number of secondary works. Conducted in French and English, assignments in French or English, readings in French.