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COURSE OFFERINGS

Please check the course catalog for up-to-date information.

All classes and exams are conducted in French with the exception of cross-listed courses, unless otherwise indicated.

With Digital Mapmaking, Scholars "See" a New Virtual Landscape of Paris

How can scholars and their students visualize the complex and multilayered urban space of Paris-and experience its topography, landmarks and rich artistic and literary milieu—without touring firsthand the famous city? In a new pedagogical/research project, "Mapping Paris, a Cultural Capital," Hélène Visentin, associate professor of French studies, is using a multimedia environment with Geographic Information Systems technology to explore and study the historical layers of Paris. For more about this course, click here.

Global French: The Language of Business and International Trade

The Department of French Studies at Smith College is an accredited testing center for the Diplôme de français professionnel (Affaires B2) granted by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris. Students in FRN 385, Global French: The Language of Business and International Trade, prepare for the qualifying exam, which is administered locally each May.

 

Language Courses

FRN 100 Beginning French I

This elementary French course is designed to give those with no previous experience in French the opportunity to begin to acquire the fundamentals of the French language and Francophone culture. It emphasizes communicative proficiency, the development of oral and listening skills, self-expression, and cultural insights. Classroom activities are focused on acquiring the four language competencies (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). The course starts with a short video presentation and incorporates authentic French material. By the end of the semester, students will be able to communicate in a variety of real-world situations. Students who complete 100 may enter 102 (admission in 103 with permission of the instructor). Students must complete both 100 and 102 to fulfill the Latin honors distribution requirement for a foreign language. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. (E) {F} Credits: 4
Elsa Stéphan 
Offered Fall 2016 

FRN 101 Accelerated Beginning French I
An accelerated introduction to French for real beginners based on the video method French in Action. Development of the ability to communicate confidently with an emphasis on the acquisition of listening, speaking and writing skills, as well as cultural awareness. Four class meetings per week plus required daily video and audio work. Students completing the course enter 102 or 103. Students must complete both 101 and 102 or 103 to fulfill the Latin honors distribution requirement for a foreign language. Recommended for students who intend to study in Paris. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. No spring preregistration allowed. Credits: 5
Ann Leone, Jonathan Gosnell
Offered Fall 2016

FRN 102 Beginning French II
This second-semester French course allows students to acquire the basic elements of spoken and written French. They learn how to express themselves in everyday life situations as they connect to the Francophone world through authentic cultural material and multimedia activities. Students will learn how to express themselves on a variety of topics including their friends and family, their current experience in college, and to discuss past and future events in their lives. Students completing the course normally enter 120 or 220. Prerequisite: 100 or 101. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. (E) {F} Credits: 4
Elsa Stéphan 
Offered Spring 2017

FRN 103 Accelerated Beginning French II

Emphasis on the development of oral proficiency, with special attention to reading and writing skills, using authentic materials such as poems and short stories. Students completing the course normally enter 220 or 230. Prerequisite: 101. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. Priority is given to first-year students. {F} Credits: 5
Eglal Doss-Quinby, Ann Leone
Offered Spring 2017 

FRN 120 Intermediate French
An intermediate language course designed for students with two or three years of high school French. Its main objective is to develop cultural awareness and the ability to speak and write in French through exposure to a variety of media (literary texts, newspaper articles, ads, clips, films, videos). Students completing the course normally enter 220. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. {F} Credits: 4
Christiane Métral, Elsa Stéphan, Fall 2016 
Martine Gantrel-Ford, Spring 2017  
Offered Fall 2016, Spring 2017 

FRN 220 High Intermediate French 
Review of communicative skills through writing and class discussion. Materials include a movie, a comic book, a play and a novel. Prerequisite: three or four years of high school French; 102, 103 or 120; or permission of the instructor. Students completing the course normally enter 230. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. {F} Credits: 4 
Christiane Métral, Elsa Stéphan, Mehammed Mack, Fall 2016 
Jonathan Gosnell, Mehammed Mack, Spring 2017 
Offered Fall 2016, Spring 2017

FRN 235 Speaking (Like the) French: Conversing, Discussing, Debating, Arguing 
A total immersion course in French oral expression using authentic cultural materials: French films and televised versions of round-table discussions, formal interviews, intellectual exchanges and documentary reporting. Students learn how the French converse, argue, persuade, disagree and agree with one another. Interactive multimedia exercises, role playing, debating, presenting formal exposés and improving pronunciation. Prerequisite: 230 or permission of the instructor. Registration: required attendance at meeting in Fall 2016: Tuesday, November 15 at 5:00 p.m. in Hatfield 105. Admission by permission only. {F} Credits: 4 
Christiane Métral
Offered Interterm 2017

FRN 270 Language and Identity 
A course in advanced composition for students who wish to improve their mastery of some of the more difficult points of French grammar, syntax and usage, as they reflect on the role of language in shaping individual and national identity, from the 16th century to the present day. Readings and discussions on topics such as linguistic policy and cultural politics, the feminization of the French language, and defending against the invasion of English by legislating the use of French within France and Quebec. Prerequisite: normally, one course in French studies beyond 230, or permission of the instructor. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Eglal Doss-Quinby 
Offered Fall 2016

 

Intermediate Courses in French Studies

FRN 230 Colloquium in French Studies 
Topics course.

A gateway to more advanced courses. These colloquia develop skills in expository writing and critical thinking in French. Materials include novels, films, essays and cultural documents. Students may receive credit for only one section of 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Basis for the major. Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

"Banlieue Lit"
In this course, students study fiction, memoir, slam poetry and hip-hop authored by residents of France's multi-ethnic suburbs and housing projects, also known as the banlieues and cités. We examine the question of whether banlieue authors can escape various pressures: to become native informants; to write realistic rather than fantastical novels; to leave the "ghetto"; to denounce the sometimes difficult traditions, religions, neighborhoods and family members that have challenged but also molded them. Often seen as spaces of regression and decay, the banlieues nevertheless produce vibrant cultural expressions that beg the question: is the banlieue a mere suburb of French cultural life, or more like one of its centers? {F}{L} Credits: 4

Mehammed Mack 
Offered Fall 2016


Consumers, Culture and the French Department Store 
How have French stores and shopping practices evolved since the grand opening of Le Bon Marché in 1869? In what ways have megastores influenced French "culture"? This course examines representations of mass consumption in literature, the press, history, and analyses of French popular and bourgeois traditions, paying particular attention to the role of women in the transactions and development of culture. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Jonathan Gosnell 
Offered Fall 2016

Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean 
An introduction to works by contemporary women writers from Francophone Africa and the Caribbean. Topics to be studied include colonialism, exile, motherhood and intersections between class and gender. Our study of these works and of the French language are informed by attention to the historical, political, and cultural circumstances of writing as a woman in a former French colony. Texts include works by Mariama Bâ, Maryse Condé, Yamina Benguigui and Marie-Célie Agnant. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Dawn Fulton 
Offered Spring 2017 

 

Paris, a Multilayered City 
An exploration of the cultural and urban development of Paris across time and in space with an emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. We use an interactive digital platform to reconstruct the spaces, both real and imaginary, featured in novels, poetry, short stories, popular songs, visual documents and maps that have portrayed the city throughout its history. Works by Corneille, Hugo, Maupassant, Baudelaire, Apollinaire, Modiano, Vargas, Gavalda. {F}{L}  Credits: 4 
Hélène Visentin 
Offered Spring 2017

FRN 250 Skyping With the French: Cross-Cultural Connections 
Using webcam and videoconferencing technology, students have conversations in real time with French students in Paris. We examine youth culture in France and explore fundamental cultural differences between Americans and the French. Topics include cultural attitudes and beliefs, social values and institutions as well as relevant socioeconomic issues. Materials: textbooks, cultural essays, surveys, articles, films and songs. Prerequisite: 230 or higher or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. {F}{S} Credits: 4 
Mehammed Mack 
Offered Spring 2017

FRN 251 The French Media, Now and Then 
Topics course.

A broad overview of the different media and their histories in the French and Francophone world as well as an overview of French social, economic, political and cultural issues. Students acquire essential tools for media analysis: identifying political orientation, detecting bias, tracking controversies over time, putting quotes in context, and identifying missing voices in the narrative. Students can expect to read the leading newspapers every week and grapple with events as they happen. Prerequisite: 230 or permission of the instructor. 

The French Press Online 
A study of contemporary French social, economic, political and cultural issues through daily readings of French magazines and newspapers online such as Le MondeLe FigaroLibérationLe Nouvel Observateur. {F}{S} Credits: 4  
Elsa Stéphan 
Offered Spring 2017 

FRN 252 French Cinema 
Topics course. 

Cities of Light: Urban Spaces in Francophone Film 
From Paris to Fort-de-France, Montreal to Dakar, we study how various filmmakers from the Francophone world present urban spaces as sites of conflict, solidarity, alienation and self-discovery. How do these portraits confirm or challenge the distinction between urban and nonurban? How does the image of the city shift for "insiders" and "outsiders"? Other topics to be discussed include immigration, colonialism and globalization. Works by Sembène Ousmane, Denys Arcand, Mweze Ngangura and Euzhan Palcy. Offered in French. Prerequisite: 230, or permission of the instructor. Weekly required screenings. 252 may be repeated for credit with another topic. {A}{F}{L} Credits: 4 
Dawn Fulton 
Offered Fall 2016 
 
FRN 253 The Lady, the Knight and the King 
An introduction to the main cultural and literary currents that shaped Medieval France, a period whose values and concept of "literature" were dramatically different from our own. We focus on the rise of courtliness and the invention of romantic love, the legend of King Arthur and the transmission of Celtic themes, adultery and madness, magic and the chivalric quest, and the ribald humour of the fabliaux. Readings from The Romance of the RoseTristan and Yseut, Marie de France’s Lais, Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, troubadour and trouvère lyric, and selected fabliaux. Prerequisite: FRN 230. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Eglal Doss-Quinby 
Offered Fall 2016  

 

FRN 272 J’accuse! French Intellectuals as Activists 
Why can some writers be called intellectuals? What is an intellectual? Why are French intellectuals unique? This course studies the emergence of political activism and the figure of the French "intellectual engagé" through readings from key social and historical moments and from a variety of genres. We trace how public debates on highly controversial topics such as intolerance, fanaticism, the death penalty, feminism, racism, and the role of media have influenced intellectuals to become committed to transforming French politics and society. Texts include writings by Molière, Voltaire, Hugo, Zola, Sartre, Beauvoir, Halimi, Bourdieu and others. Prerequisite: 230 or permission of the instructor. {F}{H}{L} Credits: 4  
Hélène Visentin 
Offered Spring 2017 

 

FRN 295 French Translation in Practice 
Practicum in French; must be taken concurrently with CLT 150. Students read short texts in translation theory, study translation techniques and strategies, compare versions of translated texts, and produce their own translations of French texts. Readings and discussions conducted in French. Prerequisite: two courses beyond 230 or permission of the instructor. This 2-credit course does not count as preparation for the Smith Programs Abroad in Paris and Geneva. {F}{L} Credits: 2 
Members of the department 
Offered Spring 2017

 

Advanced Courses in French Studies

Prerequisite: two courses in French studies at the 260 level or higher or permission of the instructor.

FRN 320 Women Defamed, Women Defended 
What genres did women practice in the Middle Ages and in what way did they transform those genres for their own purposes?  What access did women have to education and to the works of other writers, male and female? To what extent did women writers question the traditional gender roles of their society? How did they represent female characters in their works and what do their statements about authorship reveal about their understanding of themselves as writing women? What do we make of anonymous works written in the feminine voice? Readings will include the love letters of Héloïse, the lais and fables of Marie de France, the songs of the trobairitz and women trouvères, and the writings of Christine de Pizan. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Eglal Doss-Quinby 
Offered Spring 2017 

FRN 340 Topics in 17th/18th Century Literature 
Topics course. 

Social Networking in Early Modern France—A Digital Humanities Approach 
In this course, we will introduce students to the social practices, spaces and networks that defined seventeenth- and eighteenth- century France, politically and culturally, from the height of the Ancien Régime up to the French Revolution. We will also expose students to digital humanities methods and theories, combining the study and praxis of these approaches.  As a jointly-taught, cross-campus course, students at Smith and Wellesley will share a common syllabus and engage in parallel assignments. Through this joint endeavor we aim to foster digital collaboration among students in ways that will lead them to reflect on how their use of digital methods and "virtual" collaboration change the ways in which they produce, share, and disseminate knowledge. Works by Scudéry, Molière, La Fayette, La Bruyère, Diderot and Voltaire. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Hélène Visentin 
Offered Fall 2016 
 
FRN 365 Francophone Literature and Culture 
Topics course. 

Food, Hunger, Memory: Literature of the Caribbean 
Food and its absence are persistent themes in Caribbean literature. Cooking and culinary practices serve as a means of preserving cultural identities, yet can also reinforce colonial visions of the Caribbean as an exoticized space. Hunger figures as an indictment of that colonial history and of contemporary global inequities. Through studies of folktales, short stories, poetry, and novels, this course offers an introduction to the literature and major theoretical movements of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti, with a focus on how cultural memory is inscribed in metaphors of consumption. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Dawn Fulton 
Offered Fall 2016 

FRN 380 Topics in French Cultural Studies 
Topics course. 

France in America 
What is French America, or l'Amérique française? What is the nature of the French-American relationship, historically and today? At the height of the contemporary Franco-American culture wars, France and the United States seemed to be polar opposites. Yet at one time parts of the United States spoke French, lived and laughed in French, cried and died in French. Must French now be translated in America? Through what cultural mechanisms is Frenchness expressed by Americans? In what languages does one write French America today? We answer such questions in our exploration of the French experience of North America from the 17th to the 21st century. {F}{L} Credits: 4 
Jonathan Gosnell 
Offered Spring 2017 

FRN 392 Topics in Culture 
Topics course. 

Stereotypes in French Cinema 
In this seminar, we examine how popular French comedies have recently relied on stereotypes to promote a national conversation about social, racial, sexual and religious identities. Among the issues considered: Why are these comedies popular? What are the cultural and national boundaries of comedy? Who is laughing (or not) and why? Are all stereotypes equal? Can laughter promote social progress? Is it possible to identify larger political or cultural concerns hidden behind the use of stereotypes in these films? Weekly or biweekly film showings. Readings in film criticism and relevant fields. {A}{F} Credits: 4  
Martine Gantrel-Ford 
Offered Spring 2017 

FRN 404 Special Studies 
Admission by permission of the department; normally for junior and senior majors and for qualified juniors and seniors from other departments. Credits: 4 
Members of the department
Offered Fall 2016, Spring 2017


Cross-Listed Courses and Recommended Courses from Other Departments and Programs

CLT 253 Literary Ecology 
Literary ecology focuses on bio-social themes in literature—how human beings construct their relationship to their environment through literature and landscape art. We read works by “nature writers,” from the Romantic poets to early ecologists like John Muir and John Burroughs, and by contemporary writers such as John McPhee and Annie Dillard. We also analyze issues of contemporary eco-criticism and consider an expansion of the current range of canonical texts to include a broader diversity of viewpoints. {L} Credits: 4 
Ann Leone 
Offered Spring 2017 

 

FYS 141 Reading, Writing and Placemaking: Landscape Studies 
Landscape studies is the interdisciplinary consideration of how we view, define and use the land, whether it be our backyard, a moonscape or a national park. How does land become a landscape? How does space become a place? Scientists study and manipulate landscapes as do politicians, builders, hunters, children, artists and writers, among others. In this course, we examine how writers, in particular, participate in placemaking, and how the landscape influences and inhabits literary texts. The course includes some landscape history and theory, visits by people who study landscape from nonliterary angles, and the discovery of how landscape works in texts in transforming and surprising ways. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. {WI} Credits: 4 
Ann Leone 
Offered Fall 2016

 

FYS 199 Re-Membering Marie Antoinette 
How can we re-imagine, reconstruct, understand a historical personage? How do we perceive and get to "know" such a figure, and through this knowledge, the historical moment and context in which the person lived? We examine Marie Antoinette from a variety of perspectives: archival sources, documents and letters; biographies, portraits—official and unofficial—caricatures, pornographic pamphlets, fictional works such as plays, novels and films in which she figures. The course incorporates a role-playing unit reenacting her trial, during which every member of the class plays the role of one of the important participants. Some film screenings. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. {H}{L}{WI} Credits: 4 
Janie Vanpée 
Offered Fall 2016 

TSX 330/CLT 330 Capstone Seminar in Translation Studies 
The capstone seminar brings together a cohort of concentrators to discuss the final translation project that each student undertakes with the guidance of their adviser in the concentration and to situate the project within the framework of larger questions that the work of translation elicits. The seminar readings focus on renowned practitioners’ reflections on the difficulties and complexities of translating, the obstacles, discoveries and solutions that the translator encounters. We read a series of essays that engage with the conflicting interpretations and nuances of translations in 14 languages of Ferdinand Oyono’s iconic 1956 African novel, Une vie de boy. We compare how these translations transform the original novel and question the concept of original text as it interacts with the culture and the language into which it is translated. Students are responsible for presenting essays that focus on the particular challenges of translation that they have encountered in their individual project. Open to students in the Concentration in Translation Studies and students in Comparative Literature. Enrollment limit of 12 students. Prerequisite: CLT 150. {L} Credits: 4 
Janie Vanpée 
Offered Spring 2017