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 and Francophone Studies consists of nine courses numbered 140 or higher. All courses must be taught in French and include: one course focusing on writing (200); one course in text analysis and critical reading (211, 212, or approved equivalent); one course focusing on historical/social/cultural/political aspects of France (250, 285 or approved equivalent); one course focusing on historical/social/cultural/political aspects of another Francophone area of the world or African/North African diaspora in France (280, or equivalent); two 400-level seminars during senior year, one each semester; two electives beyond Fr 200 taken on campus or abroad. Majors fulfill the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies requirement by taking a course that focuses on historical/social/cultural aspects of any Francophone areas of the word, including France (250; 285; 280 or approved equivalent).

Note: At least one course taken for the concentration must include literature, history or the arts from before the twentieth century.

Any course in the arts and the social sciences offered by another department and concentrating specifically on France or another Francophone region can satisfy one of the 200-level culture courses requirement but does not count as one of the nine concentration courses. The student would need to take a third elective.

With the department’s permission, students who start their study of French at Hamilton in French 110 and attend HiF or another approved Francophone program abroad entirely conducted in French (e.g. Hamilton in France) for at least one semester may count 130 toward the total of nine courses for the major.

Students placed by the Department in or above French 200 and who complete the course in the Fall semester of their first year may count one course taught in English from another department that focuses specifically on France or another Francophone area of the world as part of the nine courses.

During their senior year, concentrators must: 1) enroll in at least one 400-level course during both the fall and spring semesters; 2) complete a senior paper in conjunction with one of the 400-level seminars; 3) participate in an assessment of their oral proficiency in an interview conducted by outside examiners.

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.

Students with a cumulative average of A- for the nine courses in the Department are eligible for honors.   A senior completing an independent research project in 550 is exempted from writing the senior paper in the spring seminar, but is expected to complete all the other assignments.

MINOR: A minor in French consists of five courses numbered 140 or higher, including at least one course focusing on literature (211, 212 or other) and one course at the 300 level or higher.

The Department offers a limited number of courses in English on French and Francophone topics that may be of interest to students from any number of departments. Please see French 160 and French 240 below at the end of the list.


Open to students in good standing at the Fr 140/200 level, Hamilton in France is fully integrated with Hamilton’s academic program. It can enhance every student’s studies, regardless of his or her major.

After a preliminary orientation in Biarritz in the Basque Country (Fall) or in Paris (Spring) and in consultation with the director, students choose to enroll in courses among those designed for Hamilton students and those offered at various Paris universities and post-secondary institutions in all academic fields.

Depending on their linguistic ability and academic preparation, HiF students may choose from among a wide variety of courses in the Arts and Art History, Cinema, Economics, French language and literature, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Natural Sciences and Math, Sociology, and Theatre, at the University of Paris 3, Paris 6, Paris 7 or at institutes such as the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, the Institut Catholique and the Ecole du Louvre. With permission of their department, majors in the Arts may take courses in their field including Studio Art, Photography, and Theater. For more complete information refer to hamilton.edu/academics/offcampusstudy/france

All courses taken through Hamilton in France count toward Hamilton’s graduation requirements. In addition, students with concentrations other than French and Francophone Studies may, with approval from the appropriate department, apply HiF courses to their concentration (e.g. Political Science, History).

While the French and Francophone Studies department believes that far greater linguistic and cultural benefits are gained from an academic year in France than from a semester, Hamilton in France program welcomes students for either a full academic year or for one semester. Concentrators and other engaged language students are encouraged to participate in the nine-month program.

110 F Elementary French.
A thorough grounding in speaking, writing, reading and comprehension for beginners. This is an intensive, interactive course in which students make rapid gains in oral fluency and are able to read short texts. Textbook readings, daily on-line and written 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. Stempniak.

111 S Power Accelerated Beginners' French.
This fast-paced course covers two semesters of beginning French. Students receiving a B can enroll in Fr 130 in subsequent fall and be eligible to apply to Hamilton in France the following year. This highly interactive course emphasizes conversation and vocabulary acquisition before moving toward reading, written communication and discussion of cross-cultural issues through film and texts. The course meets five times a week plus conversation sessions and/or lab. Designed for students who have taken some French before (no more than one year in high school)and motivated true beginners. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, No more than one year of high school French. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.

120 S 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. Vu (Spring).

130 F,S Communication in Francophone Cultural Contexts: Intermediate French I.
The diversity of the French-speaking world provides the focus for active student engagement toward the acquisition of greater proficiency in speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing French. Reinforcement of major grammatical structures, regular oral practice and conversation, readings in contemporary cultures and social issues. Incorporates texts, film and other media 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. K Stempniak.

140 F,S Communication in Francophone Cultural Contexts: Intermediate French II.
This intermediate-level French course is based on short plays and other texts. Focus on speaking, listening and reading ability to express ideas and arguments with precision and nuance. Review of advanced grammar structures and expansion of vocabulary to develop strategies in expressing preferences and opinions. Analysis of texts and films develops critical thinking in French. Activities such as debate, discussion, and written assignments. Conducted entirely in French. Prerequisite, 130, placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Mwantuali (Fall); TBA (Spring).

200 F,S Written and Oral Argumentation Through Contempory Texts.
An intensive course focusing on oral and written argumentation, proper nuanced expression, improvement of syntax and vocabulary-building strategies through the exploration of contemporary literary and cultural texts. Fall program focuses on the analysis of Simone de Beauvoir’s societal novel Les belles images (1967) and films on contemporary issues. Additional mandatory discussion session. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 140 or placement exam; heritage speakers with instructor permission. Regular class meetings plus a weekly discussion session with a teaching assistant. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender (Fall); Krueger (Spring).

211 F Introduction to French Lit I: Transgression and Confusion in Early French Literature.
An introduction to French literature, this course explores the representation of transgression of gender and social hierarchies and the confusion of identities in texts from the Middle Ages to post-revolutionary France. Texts studied range from Aucassin et Nicolette to Claire de Duras’ Ourika. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Krueger.

212 S Introduction to French Literature II: All in the Family: Family Conflicts in French Literature.
This course provides an introduction to French literature and culture through study of a particular literary theme from the Middle Ages to the present: family tensions, intergenerational conflicts, marital discord, and strained relations between mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Authors or directors studied include Marie de France, Corneille,Isabelle de Charrière,Balzac, François Mauriac, Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux, and Cédric Klapisch. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Stempniak.

[240] Maghreb Literature in French: Traditions and Modernity.
This course provides an introduction to North-African literature written in French, through texts of authors who have emigrated to France. From the Algerian War to the Banlieue Riots, this course explores the following themes: colonialism and postcolonialism, bilingualism, cultural and national identity, secularism and religion, gender and sexual identity, literary identity and authority. Authors include: Sebbar, Mokeddem, Begag, Ben Jelloun, and Slimani. Counts toward the concentration. Prerequisite, 200 or consent of instructor. Taught in French. Maximum enrollment, 16.

250 F Exploring Contemporary France: Current Events.
An analysis of selected current events and trends in the larger context of France’s history, geography and sociopolitical forces. The course alternates readings from a textbook, recent media and films on current events. Topics include youth cultures, the collusion of national and religious identities, labor laws, environment and the recent debate that opposes Gilets Jaunes and president Macron. Engaged participation in class discussion expected. Short written assignments and longer final research paper/presentation. Taught in French. Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.

[276 S] Francophone Theaters.
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 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). Prerequisite, French 200 or permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.

280 S Francophone Cultures.
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. Maximum enrollment, 16. Mwantuali.

[285 F] 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. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 200 or consent of instructor. Taught in French. Maximum enrollment, 16.

298 F,S What's New? Improving Oral Communication in French.
Emphasis on acquiring oral proficiency both in terms of spoken French and of general communication. Work centers on improving pronunciation, acquiring vocabulary, and developing communication strategies. Exploration of contemporary topics in French media through a number of oral intensive assignments culminating in a final presentation. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, French 200, appropriate score on placement exam, or consent of instructor. Oral intensive. Half-credit. Can be taken no more than two times. Maximum enrollment, 16. Stempniak.

346 S 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.

356 S Writing the Self: Autobiography Across the Francophone World.
Exploration of the autobiographical experience of French-speaking authors from France, the Caribbean, and Africa, in memoirs, auto-biographies, journals, diaries, and film. Consideration also of the different cultures, sexes, and social contexts. Authors/filmmakers may include Michel Leiris, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maryse Condé, Assia Djebar, Camara Laye, Mariama Bâ, Ken Bugul, Moufida Tlatli, Maïwenn, Zakia Tahiri, The final project consists of writing an autobiography/literary journal or diary (real or fictive), or producing an autobiographical short film. Taught in French. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Mwantuali.

[365 S] Adventures and Encounters in Travel Literature in French.
From Montesquieu’s Lettres Persanes to Tintin’s adventures in Asia, this course explores the concept of travelling in all its forms: the thirst for adventure in a foreign land, colonial travels, the forced voyage of exile and immigration, and even space travel. The historical and sociocultural components of various texts of the travel literature genre in French are examined in context. Authors include Montesquieu, Voltaire, Saint-Exupéry, Marcel Aymé, Hergé, Gisèle Pineau, Kim Thuy, and Amélie Nothomb. Students will write their own fictional récit de voyage in the form of a travel journal. Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor.

374 F African Cinemas.
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 cinemas, 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 directors such as Thierry Michel and Tristan Boulard. Taught in French. Prerequisite, One 200-level course or above, or consent of the instructor. Mwantuali.

[404] 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.

[406] What's so Funny? Laughter and the Comic in French Culture.
What makes us laugh, and what is the social function of comedy? This course examines French comic literature, film, theater and performance from medieval fabliau and farce, modern comic fiction and theater, to contemporary cinema and stand-up comedy; works of imagination are read against the theories of Aristotle, Joubert, Baudelaire, Freud, Bergson, and Bakhtin. Authors and artists include Rabelais; Molière; Voltaire; Georges Feydeau; Albert Jarry; Eugène Ionesco; Jacques Tati; Agnès Jaoui; and Gad Elmaleh. Work includes a personal carnet du rire, an oral presentation, and a longer project. Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.

[415] 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, flânerie, 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. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, one 300-level course or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[418] 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. Prerequisite, Study abroad, or 300. Very strong students with 211 or 212. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[420 F] 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. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, French 211, or permission of instructor. Taught in French. Maximum enrollment, 16.

[421] 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 with 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.

[423] Gender and Immigration.
. In-depth study of authors and filmmakers of the North African and Caribbean diasporas who, while French nationals residing in metropolitan France and writing in French, are still often considered outsiders to the French literature realm. Focus on postcolonial women writer ethnic and gender stereotypes in the texts (novels, short stories, films); examination of the paratext (publishing materials, online and print media) of twentieth-century and early twenty-first century “female” postcolonial literature in France. Readings include works by Samira; Beyala; Bouraoui; Pineau. Prerequisite, One 300-level course; or instructor's permission. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[428 F] 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.

432 S 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. Prerequisite, one 300-level course or consent of instructor. Course may include off-campus visits. Maximum enrollment, 16. Guyot-Bender.

[435] 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.

438 F The Mediterranean world in French literature and culture, from the Crusades to pre-colonization.
This course focusses on the representation of Mediterranean cultures in French literature from the medieval Crusades to the first colonial incursions into North Africa. Texts studied range from the Chanson de Roland to Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes. Topics include the portrayal of Muslims and ethnic and religious others; gender and violence; religious conversion; race and nation; and imperial aspirations and loss. Prerequisite, 211 or above, or consent of instructor. Priority will be given to senior concentrators. Maximum enrollment, 16. Krueger.

[455 F] The African Novel.
Critical examination of the novel’s evolution from the colonial period through independence and on to post-colonial writings. The search for authenticity and answers to problems of narrative techniques, oral and written traditions, African feminism, politics, cultures, and the role of the writer. Authors include Lomani Tshibamba, Sembene Ousmane, Nafissatou Diallo, Aoua Kéita, Daniel Biyaoula, Ahmadou Kourouma, Henri Lopes, Calixthe Beyala, Aminata Sow Fall, Ken Bugul, Mariama Bâ, and Werewere Liking. Taught in French. Prerequisite, 300-level course; or instructor's permission. Maximum enrollment, 12.

550 S Senior Independent Research Project.
Independent study program consisting of the preparation and oral presentation 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. Registration is only by consent of instructor. The Department.

Courses in translation, taught in English

[160] History of French Cinema (in English): Labor on Film.
This First-Year course offers an overview of major movements of French cinema’s long and significant history. This year’s topic is the representation of labor including films from the Lumière brothers era, post WWI poetic realism, 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. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Speaking-Intensive.) Open to first-year students only. Maximum enrollment, 16.

[241] In Translation: North African Literature in France.
Introduction of North African diaspora in France through texts in translation. The course analyzes the roots of gender and religion-based stereotypes as they affect the Muslim population. It includes considerations on the History of North-African immigration in France; the aftermath of the French-Algerian War, as well as French secularism. Reading include novels and critical texts, online research, and films focused on the immigrant experience in France. Cannot count toward the French and Francophone Studies major or minor. Taught in English. No knowledge of Arabic required. Cannot count toward the French and Francophone Studies major or minor. Taught in English. No knowledge of Arabic required.

(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)

Contact Information

French and Francophone Studies Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4771 french@hamilton.edu
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