Fredrik Roennbaeck

Previous Courses


Advanced Beginning French

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course is designed for students who have studied some French in the past but wish to review the fundamentals of French language and grammar before venturing into the study of complex literary texts in French. The course has two objectives. First, students will pursue an intense, fast-paced, and thorough revision of the fundamentals of French grammar, composition, and conversation. Students will be encouraged to write multiple short essays and participate in oral class activities and will be exposed to various kinds of documents in French (songs, movies, paintings, etc.). Second, we will work on techniques of literary study and discussion in French. Our focus will be on short texts from the French and francophone worlds. We will read a selection of fables, tales, short stories, prose poems, journalistic essays, and one-act plays written in French. By the end of the course, students will be able to discuss these texts using basic tools and concepts in French. Conferences will be individual, allowing students to pursue their interests in any area of French and francophone literatures and cultures. In addition to conferences, 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 are eligible to study in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.


Advanced French: French Literature and the Myth of Monolingualism

Advanced, Small seminar—Spring

The history of France and of French literature has traditionally been written as the history of universality and monolingualism, beginning with the emergence of French as an international lingua franca during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. With the centralization of France, the French language staked its claim not only to dominance but to exclusivity to the detriment of smaller regional languages such as Occitan and Breton; and during the period of colonial expansion, the supposed universality of French language and thought played a significant role in the effort to justify violent conquest. Behind the myth of monolingualism, however, there has always existed a multilingual reality—which has increasingly made its presence known throughout the 20th century, both through decolonization and through the hegemony of English. From Mona Ozouf’s Brittany to Albert Camus’s and Assia Djebar’s Algeria and Aimé Césaire’s and Patrick Chamoiseau’s Martinique, this course will trace an outline of French as a literary language among many by examining the ambiguous role French has played as a symbol of both inclusion and exclusion, of both liberation and subjugation.