Summer Reading 2012 - "Dreaming in French"

Entering students will meet in small groups to discuss "Dreaming in French" by Alice Kaplan. Copies are available in the Five College Libraries.

Students will gather with their housemates as part of orientation to discuss the book in sessions led by faculty and administrators.  Se the press release on the Smith College news site for more information.

Read the books’ Introduction and an excerpt from Alice Kaplan’s web page. Copies are available in the Five College Libraries.

Learn more about the book on the Universityof Chicago Press website.

For more information about the book and the Summer Reading Program for first-year and entering students, please see the Summer Reading website.

Alice Kaplan

Alice Kaplan is the John M. Musser Professor of French at Yale University. Her first book, Reproductions of Banality (1986), was a theoretical exploration of French fascism. Since then she has published books on Céline’s anti-semitic pamphlets (Sources et citations dans ‘Bagatelles pour un massacre'), on the treason trial of Robert Brasillach (The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach), and on American courts-martial in newly liberated France (The Interpreter). The Interpreter was the recipient of the 2005 Henry Adams Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government; The Collaborator was awarded the 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Award in History and was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critic’s Circle awards.

Alice Kaplan


"She is probably best known for her 1993 memoir, French Lessons, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in biography/autobiography. Her literary translations include books by Roger Grenier (Piano Music for Four Hands, Another November, and The Difficulty of Being a Dog), Louis Guilloux (OK, Joe), and Evelyne Bloch-Dano (Madame Proust).”  From author website

Biographical Information

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Alice Kaplan

Alice Kaplan
(Contemporary Authors)

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
(Contemporary Authors)

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis (American National Biography)

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag 
(Contemporary Authors)

Book Reviews

Please Note: If you are off campus you will be asked for your Smith Network username and password when clicking on the resources listed below.

3 American Women in Their Parisian Moments by Dwight Garner, New York Times (April 3, 2012)

“Dreaming in French”: Three remarkable women in Paris by Laura Miller (

To find additional book reviews search for DREAMING IN FRENCH AND ALICE KAPLAN in the following databases of newspaper and magazine articles:

Academic Search Premier

LexisNexis Academic


Interview with Alice Kaplan (University of Chicago Press)

Interview with Alice Kaplan (A Woman's Paris blog)

Keeping in Touch

Dreaming in French (Facebook)

Video Alice Kaplan video discussing Angela Davis in France in the early 1960s

More Reading on the Women of Dreaming in French

book cover Angela Davis an Autobiography Angela Davis: an Autobiography
SC Neilson: E 185.97 .D23 A32 1988
book cover Jacqueline Kennedy First Lady of the New Frontier
Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier by Barbara A. Perry
SC Neilson: E 843 .K4 P47 2004
book cover Susan Sontag the Making of an Icon
Susan Sontag: the Making of an Icon by Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock
SC Neilson: PS 3569 .O6547 Z876 2000

Past Summer Readings

Summer Reading 2011
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot)

Summer Reading 2010
Half the Sky (Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn)

Summer Reading 2009
The Green Collar Economy (Van Jones)

Summer Reading 2008
Native Guard (Natasha Trethewey)

Summer Reading 2007
Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

Summer Reading 2006
Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder)

Summer Reading 2005
Kettle Bottom (Diane Gilliam Fisher)

Summer Reading 2004
The Gangster We Are All Looking For (Lê Thi Diem Thúy)

Summer Reading 2003
Atonement (Ian McEwan)

Summer Reading 2002
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (Barbara Ehrenreich)

Summer Reading 2001
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Anne Fadiman)

Help from a Librarian

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