Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton's French Department is to encourage an appreciation of the heritage and culture of French-speaking peoples and help students develop language proficiency necessary for a mature understanding of France and Francophone countries, past and present.
A concentration in French consists of nine courses numbered 140 or higher, including 200; 211 or 212; 250 or 280 or 285; two 400-level seminars (one each semester of senior year, including at least one pre-modern seminar); and two electives at the 300 or 400 level. Any history, civilization or culture course offered by another department and concentrating specifically on France or another Francophone country satisfies the 250-285 requirement but will not count as one of the nine concentration courses.
During their senior year, concentrators in French must: 1) enroll in at least one 400-level course during both the fall and spring semesters; one of these courses must focus on a period before 1800; 2) complete a substantial research paper in a 400-level course, normally in the spring semester; 3) participate in an assessment of their oral proficiency in an interview conducted by outside examiners early in the spring semester. Concentrators may not normally fulfill the requirement for the major through the election of a 200-level course during their senior year. A complete description of the Senior Program is available in Christian Johnson 202.
Candidates for honors must have a 3.50 or better average grade in the nine courses required for the major ; must receive a grade of A- or better on their Senior Paper in a 400-level seminar or in 550 their senior year ; and must be approved by a vote of the department faculty.
A minor in French consists of five courses numbered 140 or higher, including at least one literature course and one course at the 300 level or higher.
Hamilton in France
After a preliminary orientation in Biarritz and Paris, students register at various Paris universities and post-secondary institutions. In consultation with the director, they select a program of four courses per semester from those offered at Paris III, Paris VI, PVII, or at other institutes such as the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, the Institut Catholique and the Ecole du Louvre. In addition, a number of special courses taught by French professors are arranged by Hamilton in Paris.
The Université de Paris and the special institutes announce their courses at the beginning of each academic year. The director makes specific course information available to students as soon as possible. Many varied courses in art history, economics, French language and literature, history, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, sociology and theatre are offered. Students are urged to take at least one semester of a language class and are encouraged to select a balanced program of courses in different disciplines. A detailed description of selected courses is contained in the program’s catalogue.
All courses taken with the Hamilton in France Program count toward the graduation requirement. However, students with concentrations other than French must consult with the appropriate department before departure about transfer of credit for the concentration.
The Hamilton in France program is for a full academic year. The department believes that far greater linguistic and cultural benefits are gained from an academic year in France than from a semester. Concentrators and other serious language students are therefore encouraged to participate in the nine-month program. A semester option is available, however, to pre-med students, students majoring in the sciences (including mathematics and computer science) and students whose academic plans necessitate attending another semester program in another country.
110F First-Term French.
A thorough grounding in speaking, writing, reading and comprehension for beginners. This is an intensive, interactive course which allows students to gain oral fluency fast and start writing short texts. Textbook readings and exercises supplemented by short texts and films. Prerequisite, For students with no prior experience in French. Four hours of class, plus one session with a teaching assistant. First-year students who follow the sequence through 140 may qualify for Hamilton in France, with consent of the director. Maximum enrollment, 20. Laborde.
111S Power Accelerated Beginners' French.
This fast pace course covers two semesters of beginning French. Students who receive a B can enroll in Fr 130 in fall (thus can apply to HiF for during their Junior year). This is a highly interactive course that first emphasizes conversation and vocabulary acquisition, and moves into reading, written communication and the discussion of cross-cultural issues. The course meets five times a week plus conversation sessions and/or lab. It is designed for students who have taken some French before (no more than one year in high school) and dynamic true beginners. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, No more than one year of high school French. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.
120S Second-Term French.
Increased instruction in aural comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. In 120, students engage in more in-depth conversation topics and writing assignments about everyday life and cultural topics related to French-speaking areas around the world. Four hours of class, with additional independent drill and laboratory work as well as Internet exploration. Prerequisite, 110 or placement in 111/120. Although a natural continuation of 110, 120 can be taken independently. First-year students who follow the sequence to 140 may qualify to attend Hamilton in France. Maximum enrollment, 16. Diaz (Spring).
130F Communication in Francophone Cultural Contexts: Intermediate French I.
The diversity of the French-speaking world will provide the material for students' active engagement and greater proficiency in speaking, comprehending, reading and writing French. Strengthening of basic grammar, oral practice and conversation, readings in contemporary cultures and social issues. Incorporates texts, films and other activities as the basis for discussion, debate, exposés and short compositions. Three hours of class and session with teaching assistant. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, 111, 120 or French placement exam. Maximum enrollment, 16. Diaz.
140F,S Communication in Francophone Cultural Contexts: Intermediate French II.
This intermediate-level French course is based on the study of French films. In this course, you will focus on listening and reading ability to express ideas and arguments in a nuanced, precise and elaborate way. Students progress in complex grammar structures and expand vocabulary to develop strategies to express tastes and opinions with precision and conviction. Critical thinking and textual/audiovisual analysis through debates, discussions, and essays are at the center of the course. The class is entirely conducted in French. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 130, placement exam or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Laborde (Fall); Laborde (Spring).
160S Work through the lens of French Cinema.
This First-Year course offers an overview of major movements of French cinema's long and significant history focusing on the topic of work. It includes ten films, from the time of the Lumière brothers to post WWI poetic realism and from the 1960s' New Wave and militant cinema to today's new realism and parody. The theme of work will familiarize students with French social and political history. Taught in English (films in French with English subtitles). Reading on the theory of film and French cultural history will supplement screenings. The class may include field trips. (Oral Presentations.) Open to first-year students only. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.
200F,S Introduction to French Studies.
An intensive course to improve all language skills, focusing on oral and written argumentation, proper nuanced expression, grammar and vocabulary-building strategies through the analysis of contemporary literary and cultural texts. A necessary course for study abroad and French culture and literature courses. Mandatory discussion session TBA. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 140 or placement exam. Regular class meetings plus a weekly discussion session with a teaching assistant. Maximum enrollment, 20. Krueger (Fall); Mwantuali (Spring).
211F Introduction to French Literature I: Health and Identity.
This course examines the portrayal of health, illness, diseases and the conventions that govern its representations in literature. Topics include physical and mental health issues, health and the subject, health and society (social conditions creating illnesses), and the body. Special attention is given to close reading, literary analysis and coherent structuring of written argumentation. The course lays a solid basis for strong general knowledge of French literatures and familiarize students with a range of different genres. Reading and class discussion in French. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Laborde.
212S Introduction to French Literature II: Literary Beasts.
This course will focus on how and why animals speak to us. We will address this question by examining a series of French texts spanning from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century, along with some film adaptations. Students will become acquainted with a selection of canonical texts, important genres, and analytic categories, including: fables, fairy tales, romance, satire, and the encyclopedic tradition. Readings in Modern French. Class discussions, oral presentations and papers in French. Writing-intensive. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Diaz.
230S Crick, Crack, Boum Comics and Graphic Novels in France.
This course explores France's “Ninth Art,” the French comic books, or Bandes Dessinées (BD). We will analyze a variety of BDs from classics such as Tintin and Asérix to Persepolis (Satrapi), from fantasy to autobiographies. Not only are BDs a popular cultural and art form, they also participate in French literary culture in a broader sense. Key concepts include the representation of immigration, war, national and personal identity, consumerism, and the environment. Students will write response papers, do an oral presentation and make their own comics (no drawing skills required!). Cynthia Laborde.
250F Exploring Contemporary France: Current Events.
Analysis of a variety of perspectives on contemporary France, including geography and recent history, regionalism, religions and cultures as they have shaped the social evolution of the population, socio-political groups and popular culture. Exploration of recent reforms and initiatives led by François Hollande's government. Students will design part of their syllabus from the French media and TV5. Students conduct individual research to be presented orally or electronically during the semester. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Guyot-Bender.
An exploration of diverse playwriting techniques and themes in different French-speaking areas. Plays read or watched on video. Assignments include text analysis as well as dramatic readings and/or reenacting of scenes from the plays. Authors read include: Michel Tremblay and Marie Brassard (Québec), Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe), Mikanza Mobyem (Congo-Kinshasa), Marie Ndiaye, Sartre, Camus, Beckett, or Ionesco (France), Guillaume Oyono Mbia (Cameroun), Guy Régis Jr. (Haiti), Sony Labou Tansi (Congo-Brazzaville), and Werewere-Liking (Cameroun-Côte d’Ivoire). (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, French 200 or permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.
An introduction to cultures of French-speaking areas beyond the Hexagon: Africa, the Caribbean, Canada. Topics include the history of slavery, colonization and neo-colonization; literatures; sculptures, masks, paintings; fashion; and cuisines. Discussion based on readings, films and presentations by native informants. Taught in French. Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Instructor’s consent also required for those returning from study in France.
1968: Is Paris Burning?.
In May 1968, France experienced social unrest on an unprecedented scale: massive student demonstrations preceded a general labor strike by millions of workers from all sectors of employment. Social and political unrest characterized the moment, but the "events of May" also challenged existing forms of knowledge and the very nature of language. Explores post-war French history and concurrent developments in the university, the arts and intellectual life. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 200 or consent of instructor. Taught in French.
346S Matter of Taste: Food Cultures in France and the Francophone World.
The course presents a socio-historical survey of food practices and culinary arts from the French Middle Ages to the present, including the influence of African, Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern cultures on French food today. Topics include: medieval cookbooks and royal banquets; etiquette; the language of cooking; regional cuisines in France and beyond; haute cuisine; restaurant culture; dining and cooking in literature and film; food and social class; food politics. Assignments include food journal; response papers; oral presentation; and a final project. Taught entirely in French. Prerequisite, Any 200-level French course. Krueger.
Beyond the Known (Francophone) World, from Marco Polo to Trip Advisor.
Examination of travel and travel writing in French literature and culture, from the Middle Ages to the present. Topics to include pilgrimage, the Crusades, voyages of discovery and self-discovery, exile, colonialism, immigration, and contemporary tourism. Students will submit a journal of their readings and travels, in addition to short written and oral reports. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor.
Special Topics: African Cinema.
An introduction to the cinema of Africa. This course is a study of major cultural and socio-political issues as well as of techniques, and the crucial question of "language(s)" in African cinema, from the colonial to the post-colonial era. African filmmakers include Raoul Peck, Ngangura Mweze, Ousmane Sembene, Assia Djebar, Amadou Saalum Seck, Raymond Rajaonarivelo, Kwaw Ansah, Djibril Diop Mambety, as well as some non-African director such as Thierry Michel and Tristan Boulard. Taught in French. Prerequisite, One 200-level course or above, or consent of the instructor.
Arthurian Legends and the Creation of Courtly Culture in Medieval France.
This course examines the representation of social relationships in tales of King Arthur and the Round Table. Works and authors include Geoffrey of Monmouth, Marie de France, Lancelot and Perceval, La Quête du Saint Graal and La Mort du Roi Arthur, fabliaux and didactic texts (all read in modern French translation). Topics include the construction of gender roles ; dress and fashion; the politics of the court; and the role of clerics and readers in the definition of courtly culture. Oral exposé and brief papers on subjects that may bring in other disciplinary interests . Prerequisite, French 211 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Comic Visions in French Literature from the Fabliaux to Figaro.
Analysis of comic perspectives on society, language and literature from Old French farce through the early modern period. Works and authors include Aucassin et Nicolette, selected fabliaux, the Farce de Maistre Pathelin, Marguerite de Navarre, Rabelais, Molière and Le Mariage de Figaro. Taught in the original French or in modern French translation when appropriate. Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.
414S East Meets West: Cultural Encounters with the Other in the Middle Ages and Beyond.
This course focuses on representations of Christians and Muslims in Old French literature that centers around or departs from the medieval Mediterranean world during a time of great political conflict but also fertile intercultural exchange. Texts include the Chanson de Roland, Floire et Blancheflore, Marco Polo's Livre des merveilles de Constantinople, the Fille du Comte de Ponthieu, Montequieu's Lettres persanes. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, French 211 or 212 or the equivalent. Offered occasionally Maximum enrollment, 16. Krueger.
Out in the City: Nineteenth-Century Paris.
Examination of the ways in which an increasingly modern Paris looms large in the 19th-century imagination. Explores developments in the arts (drawing, caricature and photography) and writing (journalism and literature) to examine topics such as money, pleasure, looking, flanerie, fashion, social class and gender within the context of urban decay and renewal. Attention to the historical and social geography of Paris complements study of writers such as Balzac, Girardin, Baudelaire and Zola and artists such as Daumier, Nadar, and the impressionists. (Oral Presentations.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, one 300-level course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.
416F ANI-MAL/ ANIMÉ/ANI-MOTS/ANIMUS: Literary Beasts (12th-18th Century).
There is a long-standing tradition of writing that blurs the boundaries between humans and animals. Animals speak or behave like humans. Conversely, humans act like animals, interact with animals, and even turn into animals. This beast literature includes numerous genres and themes and has lasted from antiquity to the present. We will examine the role of animals as cultural objects in relationship to the human through texts spanning the Middle Ages through the Early Modern period. Primary literary texts and secondary readings in literary criticism and historical context. Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Diaz.
Place and Space in 20th/21st-Century French Literature and Film.
The course will focus on novels and films which titles include a place name. It will explore how place and space shape characters, their past, and aspiration for the future, and how texts shape those spaces in words and images. We will speak about "l'espace littéraire et l'espace filmique" to deepen our understanding of the relationship between text and place. Reading list includes Hiroshima mon amour (duras); Quartier perdu (Modiano); Onitsha (Le Clezio), and contemporary novels by Oster and Toussaint. Films will include Le Havre, Outremer, some films with "Paris" in their titles. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, Study abroad, or 300. Very strong students with 211 or 212. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Women's Writing in Contemporary France.
Examination of current trends in French women’s writing with attention to the cultural locations of its various forms such as the crime novels, autofiction, memoir, and satire. Authors may include Varga, Despentes, Ernaux, Calle, Sebbar, Ndiaye, Bouraoui, Cusset, and Angot. (Oral Presentations.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, French 211, or permission of instructor. Taught in French. Maximum enrollment, 16.
Romance, Revolution, and Rebels in the 19th-Century French Novel.
This course will examine emerging and competing forms of the French novel in the first half of the 19th century, exploring their engagements ith romantic individualism, sentimental fictions, recent history and, ultimately, realist aesthetics. Authors studied may include Hugo, Balzac, Duras, Sand Girardin, Stendhal and Flaubert. Prerequisite, one 300-level course or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.
428F Post-War Cinematographic Memory.
Based on three chapters of recent French history (the Occupation and the Holocaust; relationship with Algeria; May 1968 and social unrest), investigates how filmmakers mediate individual and national memories through moving images. The films will be considered in the context of recent historiographical material, theoretical discourse on cinema, and very specific cultural policies in France, as well as popular events around cinema. Includes about 10 movies. Some Friday afternoons will be reserved for film screenings. Prerequisite, one course at the 300-level or above. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.
Picturing War in Twentieth-Century France.
Examines various representations of the wars that have marked 20th-century France. As tragic as wars are, they inspire texts in an unlimited variety of formats and media and tones (tragic, ambiguous, mundane and comical) that respond to specific needs, and impact their "public" in different ways. Course material includes 20th-century novels, fiction and documentary film; paper and electronic news media; monuments and museums, popular forms of expression (soldiers' letters, jokes, songs, games); and other visual arts. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one 300-level course or consent of instructor. Course may include off-campus visits. Maximum enrollment, 16.
Reality as Fragment: Surrealism, the Absurd and Commitment between World War I and World War II.
Examines the artistic reaction to World War I and its anticipation of World War II with a focus on what is known as the Surrealism movement and on authors/thinkers who systematically questioned social and political assumptions about coherence and meaning through dream, studies of the self, idealism and ideology. Readings in Proust, Colette, Aragon, Breton, Malraux, Michaux and Yourcenar. Class material includes poetry, narratives and the visual arts as well as a study of Renoir's 1939 movie "La Regle du jeu." Prerequisite, French 211 or 212, or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.
455S Studies in Francophone Literature: The African Novel.
Critical examination of the novel’s evolution from the colonial period through independence and on to post-colonial writing. The search for authenticity and answers to problems of narrative technique, oral and written traditions, audience, African feminism, politics and the role of the writer. Authors include Lomani Tshibamba, Sembene Ousmane, Nafissatou Diallo, Andrée Blouin, Valentin-Yves Mudimbe, Ahmadou Kourouma, Henri Lopes, Calixthe Beyala, Aminata Sow Fall and Mariama Ba. Taught in French. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, French 211 or 212 or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Mwantuali.
550S Honors Project.
Independent study program consisting of the preparation and oral defense of a paper in French. Only students having an average of A- or better in courses counting toward the concentration at the end of the first semester of the senior year may qualify. In order to earn honors, the candidate must receive A- or better on both the required paper and the oral defense. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)