French Studies
About the Department
Francophone Residential Community
Faculty
Courses
The Major
Honors
Study Abraod
Awards & Prizes
Resources
News & Events
What Alumnae Have Done with French
French Studies

Related Links

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.

 

Scriptwriting Course 2014-15

 

In addition to teaching sections of FRN 220, 230 and 251, visiting ENS Lecturer Oriane Morriet is directing a yearlong Scriptwriting Workshop (FRN 404) in the Department of French Studies. During the fall semester, the workshop was dedicated to scriptwriting theory. Morriet gave lessons and exercises on characters, plot structure and dialogue. The second semester has been dedicated to practice, and the participating students have written a collaborative script. The script is currently being shot by a film crew, recruited among the Five Colleges and supervised by professors from Smith, Hampshire and UMass.

 

Innovative Ways to Integrate Culture Into the Teaching of French

In Intermediate French, students practice their written, oral and aural skills (as well as their creativity) by creating a video clip. This exercise improves linguistic skills and fosters a comfortable social environment in the classroom.

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 101 Accelerated Elementary French
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 normally enter 102 or 103. Students must complete both 101 and 102 or 103 to fulfill the Latin honors distribution requirement for a foreign language. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. No spring preregistration allowed. Credits: 5
Ann Leone, Eglal Doss-Quinby, Elsa Stéphan
Offered Fall 2015

FRN 102 Accelerated Intermediate French
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. Prerequisite: 101. Enrollment limited to 18 per section. Priority is given to first-year students. {F} Credits: 5
Eglal Doss-Quinby, Elsa Stéphan
Offered Spring 2016

FRN 103 Intensive Intermediate French
This course uses the same textbooks as 102, at a faster pace and with additional work on reading, writing and oral skills; special attention to composition and building vocabulary. Additional materials include websites, podcasts, works by Colette, Maupassant, Sartre and others. Prerequisite: 101. Students completing the course may be eligible to enter 230. Students who take 102 may not take 103. Admission only by permission of the instructor. {F} Credits: 5
Ann Leone
Offered Spring 2016

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
Elsa Stéphan, Martine Gantrel-Ford, Fall 2015
Denise Rochat, Spring 2016
Offered Fall 2015, Spring 2016

FRN 220 High Intermediate French
Review of communicative skills through writing and class discussion. Materials include a movie, comic book, play and 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
Elsa Stéphan, Christiane Métral, Fall 2015
Elsa Stéphan, Christiane Métral, Spring 2016
Offered Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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 2015: Tuesday, November 17 in Hatfield 105. Admission by permission only. {F} Credits: 4
Christiane Métral
Offered Interterm 2016

FRN 300 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: two courses in French studies at the 250 level or above, or permission of the instructor.
{F}
Credits: 4
Eglal Doss-Quinby
Offered Fall 2015

Intermediate Courses in French Studies

FRN 230 Colloquia in French Studies
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 this colloquium. Enrollment limited to 16. Basis for the major. Prerequisite: 220 or permission of the instructor.

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 culture, paying particular attention to the role of women in the transactions and development of culture. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Jonathan Gosnell
Offered Fall 2015

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 2016

Dream Places and Nightmare Spaces: French Literary Landscapes
Through texts by authors from Louis XIV to Colette, we discuss questions about literary uses of landscape: Why do we flee or search for a landscape? What makes us cherish or fear a particular place? What do landscapes tell us that the narrator or characters cannot or will not tell? Other authors may include Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand, Maupassant, Apollinaire, Robbe-Grillet and James Sacré. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Ann Leone
Offered Fall 2015

"Banlieue Lit"
In this course, students study fiction, memoir, slam poetry and hip-hop authored by residents of France's multiethnic 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? Students will also practice various exercises crucial to French literary analysis: close reading, summaries, portraits, argumentative essays, versification analysis, and the explication de texte. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Mehammed Mack
Offered Spring 2016

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 2016

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 Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur, L'express. {F}{S} Credits: 4

Jonathan Gosnell
Offered Fall 2015

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 non-urban? 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 2015

FRN 262 After Algeria: Revolution, Republic and Race in Modern France
For the last two centuries, one could argue that it is the Franco-Algerian relationship that has been decisive in the construction of modern France. From the colonial conquest in the early 19th century through independence in 1962, Algeria has evoked passions on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, passions frequently resulting in violence that has not entirely subsided. Memory of a conflictual present and past has required continual mediation among involved actors. In the 50+ years that have passed since Algerian independence, France and the French have increasingly confronted echoes of their colonial past as a result of pervasive debates around immigration, multiculturalism and national identity. Through a variety of perspectives and readings, we explore a post-Algerian French society that appears to be permanently marked by its Algerian experience. Can a late-20th-century discourse of socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, all shaped by the Algerian episode, be reconciled with Republican norms? To what extent has the experience in and out of Algeria transformed contemporary French culture? In what ways can one speak of the Algerian experience in revolutionary terms? Prerequisite: 230, or permission of the instructor. {F}{L}{S} Credits: 4
Jonathan Gosnell
Offered Spring 2016

 

FRN 264 Encountering Others in Ancien Régime France
How was France’s cultural and political identity shaped by its encounters with the Other as it expanded trade and its conquest of foreign political and cultural powers such as the Ottoman empire, the newly discovered nations of the Americas, Africa and Tahiti? How did the concept of the foreigner evolve as confrontations with other nations, other religions, other ethnicities put into question France's conception of its own society and culture? We will examine a range of texts (treatises, pamphlets, novels, theatre, ballet héroïque), in which "otherness" and foreignness is explored. Readings from Montaigne, Molière, Montesquieu, Graffigny, Voltaire, Diderot, Gouges, Duras and Condorcet. Prerequisite: 230 or permission of the instructor. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Janie Vanpee
Offered Spring 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 Montaigne, 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 Fall 2015

 

FRN 290/ARH 258 The Colonial City: Global Perspectives
This class examines the architectural history of French colonialism from a global historical perspective. French colonialism marked the longest episode of French interaction with the non-European world. This class encourages a broader understanding of its architectural impact through approaching the buildings, towns and cities that emerged during French imperialism. We will engage colonial iterations of "high style" or official, governmental architecture, in addition to examining vernacular forms engendered because of the blending of building traditions. We will consider sites in Africa, North America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Indian Ocean. We will think through the social and economic factors that caused architectural and urban typologies to display marked continuities despite geographical distinctions. Course taught in English {A}{H} Credits: 4
Dwight Carey
Offered Spring 2016


FRN 291 The Colonial City Through French Readings
A discussion section in French that must be combined with FRN 290. Students will have the opportunity to examine selected readings in French on relevant topics to deepen their understanding of the architectural history of French colonial cities. Prerequisite: One course beyond 230 or permission of the instructor. {F} Credits: 1
Dwight Carey
Offered Spring 2016

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: one course 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
Carolyn Shread
Offered Spring 2016

Advanced Courses in French Studies

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

FRN 340 Topics in Seventeenth/Eighteenth Century Literature
Topics course.

Social Networking in Early Modern France
How did social networks connect people who shared common interests and activities in early modern France? What defines the so-called French sociability and how does it emerge in both court and town society in the early 17th-century? We will look at theater as a place of civil interchange, the academies, the salons, private correspondences, among other social spaces, to understand how social networks played an integral role in the production of knowledge and the process of Enlightenment to better understand how the social life of the past has come to shape the contours of the present. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Hélène Visentin
Offered Spring 2016

FRN 365 Francophone Literature and Culture
Topics course.

Scandals and Spin Control: Francophone Literature in the Media
How much control does or should a writer have over his or her public image? Should artists be held responsible for the political or social consequences of their work? How do such questions as censorship and plagiarism play out when racial, religious or sexual difference is at stake? This course examines literary texts and essays by some of the more controversial names in contemporary Francophone literature, to be studied alongside films, interviews, television appearances, and critical and popular reviews. Works by Calixthe Beyala, Rachid Bouchareb, Maryse Condé and Dany Laferrière. {F}{L} Credits: 4
Dawn Fulton
Offered Fall 2015

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 will answer such questions in our exploration of the French experience of North America from the 17th to the 21st century. {F}{L}
Jonathan Gosnell
Offered Spring 2016

FRN 385 Advanced Studies in Language
Topics Course.

Global French—The Language of Business and International Trade
An overview of commercial and financial terminology against the backdrop of contemporary French business culture, using case studies, French television and newspapers, and the Internet. Emphasis on essential technical vocabulary, reading and writing business documents, and oral communication in a business setting. Prepares students for the Diplôme de français professionnel (Affaires B2) granted by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry and administered at Smith College. Prerequisite: a 300-level French course, a solid foundation in grammar, and excellent command of everyday vocabulary or permission of the instructor. {F} Credits: 4
Eglal Doss-Quinby
Offered Spring 2016

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 Fall 2015

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
Instructor: TBA
Offered Fall 2015, Spring 2016


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

FYS 199 Re-Membering Marie Antoinette
How can we reimagine, reconstruct, understand an 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'll 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 will incorporate a role-playing unit re-enacting her trial, during which every member of the class will play the role of one of the important participants. Some film screenings. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. {H}{L}{WI} Credits: 4
Janie Vanpee
Offered Fall 2015

CLT 242 What and Where is Main Street?
Where is Main Street? What times, spaces or places does the expression conjure? Are there equivalent concepts and places in other cultures? What are the aesthetics, the life and livelihoods, the politics that we associate with it? How are images and the concept manipulated to affect us, in the arts, in environmental issues, and in public discourse? When do we treasure this landscape, and when do we flee it? We will begin by looking at American Main Streets, and then explore related concepts in British, French, German and Russian texts and other media. Prerequisite: one course in literary studies. {L} Credits: 4
Ann Leone
Offered Spring 2016

CLT 271 Writing in Translation: Bilingualism in the Postcolonial Novel
A study of bilingualism as a legacy of colonialism, as an expression of exile, and as a means of political and artistic transformation in recent texts from Africa and the Americas. We will consider how such writers as Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Kenya), Assia Djebar (Algeria), Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique), and Edwidge Danticat (Haiti/U.S.) assess the personal and political consequences of writing in the language of a former colonial power, and how they attempt to capture the esthetic and cultural tensions of bilingualism in their work. {L} Credits: 4
Dawn Fulton
Offered Spring 2016

TSX 340 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 advisor in the concentration and to situate the project within the framework of larger questions that the work of translation elicits. The seminar readings will focus on renowned practitioners' reflections on the difficulties and complexities of translating, the obstacles, discoveries and solutions that the translator encounters. We will read a series of essays that engage with the conflicting interpretations and nuances of translations in fourteen languages of Ferdinand Oyono’s iconic 1956 African novel, Une vie de boy. We will 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 will be responsible for presenting essays that focus on the particular challenges of translation that they have encountered in their individual project. Enrollment limit of 12 students. {L} Credits: 2
Janie Vanpee
Offered Spring 2016