Eric Leveau

Undergraduate Discipline

French

Graduate of École Normale Supérieure, Fontenay-Saint Cloud, France. Agrégation in French Literature and Classics, Doctorate in French literature, Paris-Sorbonne. Special interest in early modern French literature, with emphasis on theories and poetics of theatre, comedy and satire, rhetoric, and the evolution of notions of writer and style during the period. SLC, 2003-2006; 2008–

Current undergraduate courses

Beginning French: Language and Culture

Year

An introduction to French using the multimedia “Débuts” system (textbook/two-part workbook/full-length movie, Le Chemin du retour), this class will allow students to develop an active command of the fundamentals of spoken and written French. In both class and group conferences, emphasis will be placed on activities relating to students’ daily lives and to French and francophone culture. The textbook integrates a French film with grammar study, exposing students to the spoken language from the very beginning of the course. Other materials may include French songs, cinema, newspaper articles, poems, and short stories. Group conferences replace individual conference meetings for this level, and a weekly conversation session with a French language assistant(e) is required. Attendance at the weekly French lunch table and French film screenings are both highly encouraged. Students who successfully complete a beginning- and an intermediate-level French course may be eligible to study in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.

Faculty

Previous courses

Intermediate French I: French Identities From Jeanne d’Arc to Zidane

Year

This course will offer a systematic review of French grammar and is designed to strengthen and deepen students’ mastery of grammatical structures and vocabulary. Students will also begin to use linguistic concepts as tools for developing their analytic writing. More than other countries, France’s identity was shaped by centuries of what is now perceived by the French as a historically coherent past. It is not surprising, then, that the 15th-century figure of Jeanne d’Arc is today the symbol of the extreme right-wing party, Le Pen, which has gained a significant influence in France in the last 30 years. This phenomenon can be seen, in part, as a reaction to the changing face of France’s society, exemplified by the French “Black-Blanc-Beur” soccer team that Zidane led to victory in the 1998 World Cup. In this course, we will explore the complexities of today’s French identity or, rather, identities by following the most contemporary controversies that have shaken French society in the past 20 years while, at the same time, exploring historical influences and cultural paradigms at play in these “débats franco-français.” Thus, in addition to newspapers, online resources, recent movies, and songs, we will also study masterpieces of the past in literature and in the arts. Topics discussed will include, among others, school and laïcité, cuisine and traditions, immigration and urban ghettos, women and feminism in France, French love, the heritage of French Enlightenment (les Lumières), devoir de mémoire, and the relation of France with dark episodes of its history (slavery, Régime de Vichy and Nazi occupation, Algerian war). Authors studied will include Marie de France, Montaigne, Voltaire, Hugo, Flaubert, Proust, Colette, Duras, Césaire, Djebar, Chamoiseau, and Bouraoui. The Intermediate I and II French courses are specially designed to help prepare students for studying in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.

Faculty

Intermediate French III: Molière Today

Year

In this course, we will read Molière’s plays in the wide context of 17th-century France but also with the perspective of how these texts are read and played today. Major topics covered will be Molière’s response to the rise of a female and feminist literature during his time, his complex relationship with French neoclassic theatre and tragedy in particular, his positions regarding the most recent philosophical and religious controversies, and ultimately the rise of Louis XIV to absolutist power. We will also look at Molière’s plays as stage masterpieces within Western theatrical tradition but also through the most recent readings and productions of these texts. We will watch some of these plays, and students will be encouraged to approach Molière’s work as literary critics but also as directors. We will read all major plays (L’Ecole des Femmes, Tartuffe, Dom Juan, Le Misanthrope, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, L’Ecole des Femmes, Le Malade Imaginaire) but also a series of a lesser known, shorter works that will help us better grasp the complexity of Molière’s approach to theatre. We will read additional texts spanning from Greek antiquity to 20th-century France. Authors studied will include Aristotle, Descartes, Corneille, Mlle. de Scudéry, Racine, Mme. de Sévigné, Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Mme. de Lafayette, Marivaux, Beaumarchais, Hugo, Jarry, Beckett, and Ionesco. Students who successfully complete this class may be eligible to study in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.

Faculty