Academic Options

Contact

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The structure of the Sarah Lawrence in Paris Program enables students to immerse themselves in the French language while pursuing a personalized course of study chosen from our offerings in the humanities, the social sciences, and the visual and performing arts. Depending on students’ French language proficiency and area of specialization, the Program offers both in-house seminars at Reid Hall and courses at a variety of French partner institutions.

Each student will have an individual advising session prior to arriving in Paris to discuss and pre-select courses for the semester.

Summary of Course Offerings & Requirements

French Language Course (4 credits)

The French Language course is mandatory for all students.

All students are placed in a language course appropriate for their level:

  • Intermediate French
  • Advanced French

SLC Seminar (4 credits)

Students are required to enroll in at least one SLC seminar at Reid Hall. (Courses subject to change based on enrollment)

  • Art History (Seminar conducted in English, advanced students will pursue conference work in French)
  • Film Studies (in French)
  • French Literature (Seminar conducted in English, advanced students will pursue conference work in French)
  • Immigration and Multiculturalism in France (in French)
  • Humanities/ Social Science Elective TBA

Two Electives (8 credits)

The remainder of students’ programs may be chosen from our Reid Hall seminars and/or outside electives, based on students’ French language level and academic interests: 

  • SLC seminars (see above)
  • Performing Arts: dance, music, theatre (in French)
  • Visual Arts: drawing/painting, ceramics/sculpture, photography (in French)
  • French University Courses
    • Sciences Po (French/English–Students with advanced proficiency in French  will be required to enroll in classes taught exclusively in French)
    • Sorbonne University, (in French, advanced students only)
    • University of Paris,  Diderot (in French, advanced students only)

Intensive Program Options (8 credits)

Intensive Program in the Arts or the Social Sciences 

This option is for advanced French students. All intensive programs are conducted in French and open to advanced students only. Intensive programs must be pre-approved by the Program before students’ arrival in France.

  • Fashion/Textile Design
  • Filmmaking
  • Performing Arts: Dance, Music, Theatre
  • Visual Arts: Drawing and Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture
  • Social and Political Science (Sciences Po)

Courses at French Universities

The Sarah Lawrence College in Paris Program allows students to take courses at several French universities. Options available to students depend on their level of proficiency in the French language and their academic background. Students who wish to register for classes in French at Parisian universities must demonstrate a “B2” (advanced/independent) level on a language exam taken before their arrival in Paris. This is a requirement set by the French Universities.

Partner Institutions:

  • Sorbonne University (courses in French, open to advanced students only): art history & archeology, French language/linguistics, French and comparative literature, geography, urbanism and environmental studies, history, musicology, philosophy, sociology
  • University of Paris-Diderot (courses in French, open to advanced students only): arts and letters, economics, film studies, geography and planning, history, linguistics, literature, sociology, psychology
  • Sciences Po (courses in English and in French): economics, history, humanities, international relations, law, political science, sociology. Students with advanced proficiency in French  will be required to enroll in classes taught exclusively in French

Our Paris program staff will assist students with registration and course selection at French universities. Each course is complemented by a weekly individual conference organized by the Program.

Seminars & Language Courses

The Sarah Lawrence College in Paris headquarters are located at Reid Hall, a university center shared with other American, French, and English university programs.

Classes are small, and may vary slightly from year to year.

Art History

  • From Realism to Surrealism: Paris and the Birth of Modern Art
    Professor Baudouin
    From Gustave Courbet’s Realism and his rejection of idealization to the publication of the Manifeste du Surréalisme written by André Breton and published in 1924, Paris has attracted a number of artists who, through their diverse origins and singular research, have fueled a dynamic and diversified artistic activity of exceptional richness. The scandal of Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” during the 1863 Salon des Refusés, the group of young independent artists that come to  be called the “Impressionists,” Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Gauguin, the violence of Fauvism’s colors during the 1905 Autumn Salon, the birth of Cubism as an alternative to illusionistic language, Abstract painting, Dada… all of these are events, artists, and movements that will be studied within this course, so as to broaden students’ understanding of this unique and crucial moment in artistic and cultural history that was the birth of modern art.

Film Studies

  • The Feminine/Feminist Voice in French Cinema
    Professor Broda
    The goal of this course is to determine how French cinema can be studied through a feminist perspective. Students will examine both masculine representations of female characters (predominantly patriarchal) and films directed by women, to see if the point of view is different.

    The course will begin with historical background (the French Revolution and Olympe de Gouges) and subsequently move towards a more sociological approach (the study of the 19th century and the context of the birth of pre-feminism). The philosophical and poetic dimensions of Simone de Beauvoir’s work will also be examined.

    Focusing on the cultural history of cinema, the course will explore films, texts, manifestos, or simply representations of real-life situations of women all throughout the 20th century. Students will also study major and/or forgotten women directors who have shaped our perspectives through this “other” cinema.

  • The History of the Chanson in French Cinema 
    Professor Broda
    French music in French cinema: a topic somewhere at the crossroads between French cinema, French television, and today’s Youtube.

    The goal of this course is to define what a song is, a melody, and to determine how these mediums are not only works of art but also elements of French culture. Studying songs will enable students to examine a variety of subjects: poetry (poets), melodies (musicians), interpreters (singers), in other words, texts, music and artists that have shaped French social identity.

    Through texts, recordings, film and television excerpts, we will survey the images and sounds of French music and the songs that contributed to the foundation of an essential part of French cultural heritage.

    This is therefore a course that touches upon French cultural history, French music and French cinema. Students will study foundational songs (like the French national anthem, La Marseillaise) as well as major 20th century artists like Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Georges Brassens or Barbara…

    The 21st century will not be neglected, whether it be through the study of slam poetry (Grand Corps Malade) or the “French Touch,” symbolized by groups like Daft Punk.

Literature

  • May 68: A Twentieth Century Revolution
    Professor Rönnbäck
    1968 was an explosive year in French history, with student demonstrations and worker strikes that converged to contest the reigning social order. It was also a time of massive cultural production, whether in literature and the arts, or in the burgeoning field of cinema. The radical nature of the events of May 68 have led many to place them in a long tradition of French revolutions, beginning in 1798. Others see them as a qualitatively different phenomenon, perhaps even marking the end of a revolutionary era. What is certain is that the events that took place in and around May 68 shook French society to its foundations and became a turning point in French twentieth century history. The threshold nature of the events, which divides the postwar era in a before and after May 68, makes them a perfect lens through which to examine the social, political, literary and artistic history of postwar France.

  • Paris Underground
    Professor Rönnbäck
    The 19th century saw the reinvention of the subterranean. From the sewers in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables to the striking miners of Emile Zola’s Germinal, novelists began exploring the space beneath their feet. By the turn of the century, the opening of the Paris catacombs to the public and the construction of the metro system fueled the collective imagination, while the hidden strata of history and consciousness were being charted by the developing fields of archaeology and psychoanalysis. In the early to mid-20th century, the subterranean was as much a metaphor as it was a reality, with artists and philosophers drawing inspiration from newly discovered prehistoric cave paintings and the French Resistance returning once again to Hugo’s sewers. This class follows modernity as it goes underground.

Sociology

  • Multi-Ethnic France
    Professor Mongo-Mboussa
    When France’s national soccer team won the World Cup for the first time in 1998, journalists, historians and anthropologists celebrated “multi-ethnic” France (“La France black, blanc, beur”), completing a multicultural dynamic initiated by the filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz in his 1995 film La Haine. In 1998, we saw a euphoric France, proud of its history and its openness to the world. The tonality and climate surrounding France’s second World Cup victory in 2018 was different. This time, public discourse focused more on the idea of the nation and of national unity, on the notion that France is strong when unified. This difference may be explained by the 2005 crisis in the French suburbs, the debates surrounding Muslim headscarves, the 2013 terrorist attacks, the rise of populism in Europe and the English “Brexit.” All of this underlines that immigration and the questions of “one” and “other” are at the heart of French identity. And most of all that discourse about multicultural France moves in spirals and reflects the given era.

    After a brief presentation of immigration in France in the 19th and 20th centuries, this course will examine French immigration politics and the French political philosophy of naturalization and integration. This will be an invitation for students to reflect upon the notions of intercultural relationships, alterity, assimilation, integration and secularism.

  • The Franco-Algerian Mediterranean: Between History and Memory
    Professor Mongo-Mboussa
    From 1830 to 1961, the destinies of France and Algeria were linked. To a certain extent, the two countries had a common history during this period, which was prolonged and even reinforced after decolonization with the beur generation, the painful memory of the pieds noirs and the harkis, and the French Parliament’s official recognition of the Algerian War in 1999.

    This course presents the stages, themes and major figures that marked this common history. The course will focus both on a historical survey and on the analysis of foundational discourse concerning the relationship between the two countries. We will touch upon orientalism, pieds-noirs, harkis, beurs, Islam in relationship to French secularism, etc. The course will also provide the opportunity to visit several places that are important for Franco-Algerian memory: the Porte Dorée Palace (which housed the Colonial Exposition in 1931 and is now the National Center for the History of Immigration), the Paris Mosque, and the Arab World Institute.

French

All students are required to take a French language course. The Program offers courses at both the intermediate and advanced levels; students are placed in an appropriate course based on their proficiency. The Program’s French language courses provide students the opportunity for in-depth study of French language and culture, as well as the training needed to and perform well in their other courses.

Visual Arts

All students in the Paris Program may choose to enroll in a visual arts course. Offerings include classes in drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture. All visual arts classes are conducted in French and take place at studios in and around Paris:

Drawing and Painting

  • Atelier La Charpente: In-depth study of drawing: perspective, values, composition, colors; graphite pencil, charcoal, pastel and ink; drawing with live models; sculpture: study of volume and anatomy; work on proportions, values, and representation

Photography

  • Studio Vermès: Understanding the functions of the camera, capturing different types of light; black and white photography; digital photography, study of new creative processes; learning to read images, the silent image, silence in images; development of the student’s critical thinking skills and personal style

Sculpture

For more information about studying the visual arts in Paris, please e-mail John O’Connor, Professor of Visual Arts.

Intensive Programs in Visual Arts (8 credits)

Advanced students who specialize in the visual arts may apply for an intensive program in drawing, painting, photography, or sculpture. Intensive programs in the visual arts consist of two art courses and a personal project carried out under the guidance of a professor.

Intensive Programs in Fashion/Textile Design (8 credits)

Advanced students with a demonstrated interest in fashion and textile design may apply for the intensive program. Intensive program students are registered at the Ecole Conte and typically complete courses in textile design, sewing techniques, trends, accessories, and a fashion project.

Dance

The SLC Paris Dance Program enables students to study European dance history, take technique courses at a variety of studios in and around Paris, and develop their own choreographic voice.

A course in dance includes 3 components:

  • Dance History
  • Improvisation/Composition
  • Technique classes 3 days a week
  • History of European Dance
    Professor Hamlin
    This course begins with the first codified and performed technique of French court dancing of the 16th century and covers the major dance trends of the 20th and 21st centuries in Russia, Germany, England, France, Spain and the Scandinavian countries. Video support and attendance at live performances give students visual references for the choreographic work, and reading material supplements the lectures.
  • A Confluence of Cultures: Dance Influences between France and the United States
    Professor Hamlin
    This course touches on several periods, beginning with the 19th century and the important influences of Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller on dance in France and across Europe. Traversing the 20th century, we will study influences between choreographic artists of several styles, from Music Hall and Josephine Baker to collaborative post-modern work. The semester will end with a look into transatlantic esthetics and discussions in the 21st century. The topics presented will be accompanied by readings (critiques and essays) and documentary films.

  • Improvisation/Composition 
    Professor Hamlin
    This course is based on the method taught by Alwin Nikolais, inherited from Rudolf Laban, Kurt Joos, Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm and Bessie Schönberg, founder of SLC’s dance department. The class is divided into two phases: directed group improvisation and individual composition work. Students work on specific themes each week and develop solo or group compositions to be shown at the end of each semester.

Technique Courses
Technique courses are chosen based on students’ interests, backgrounds, and schedules, under the guidance of the SLC Paris Program Dance Professor. Dance students typically enroll in classes at the following studios:

  • The Ecole Peter Goss: An open school that offers professional training in contemporary dance. Based on an alternation between suspension and release, the Goss technique draws its inspiration from the modern dance tradition, including such figures as Doris Humphrey and José Limon. The technique also incorporates certain principles of classical ballet, yoga, and the bodywork technique developed by Moshe Feldenkrais.
  • The Studio Harmonic and the Centre de Danse du Marais: Two large studios with a variety of classes from ballet and contemporary techniques to flamenco, Oriental and African dance, character dance, tai chi, yoga, etc.
  • Ménagerie de Verre: A multidisciplinary studio dedicated to contemporary creation that regularly welcomes choreographers, performers, filmmakers, and visual artists.

For more information about the dance program in Paris, please e-mail our interim director, Natalie Allen.

Intensive Program in Dance (8 credits)

Advanced students who specialize in dance may apply to the intensive dance program. 

The intensive program includes the following components:

  • Dance History
  • Improvisation/Composition
  • Daily technique classes
  • Special Project (to be elaborated under the guidance of the SLC Paris Dance Professor, according to students’ interests and goals)

Music

The SLC Paris Program offers qualified students the opportunity to pursue studies in classical music, jazz and musicology.

Students who wish to study music in Paris must:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in French (advanced proficiency is required for intensive programs and musicology courses)
  • Be proficient in “fixed do” solfege
  • Familiarize themselves with basic musical terms in French (students might find the book Abrégé de la Théorie de la Musique by A. Danhauser useful)

Students are encouraged to enroll for the full year or fall semester, as most schools will not accept students for only the spring semester.

For students enrolled in classical music or jazz courses, the curriculum includes several components :

  • Individual instruction (instrumental performance, composition, or voice)
  • Theory or History
  • Performance ensemble

Depending on their level and area of study, students may enroll in courses at the following partner institutions:

  • Schola Cantorum: All instruments and voice; solfege; theory and analysis; composition; history; individual and ensemble performance

  • Sorbonne University: advanced academic studies including theory and analysis, history, musicology, and ethnomusicology
  • Le CIM (Centre d’informations musicales): This is an Intensive Program in Jazz. Students will need to complete at least 8 credits each semester (1/2 of the curriculum).
  • Ecole Normale de Musique: This is an Intensive Program in Classical Music. Students will need to complete at least 8 credits each semester (1/2 of the curriculum).

For more information about study abroad music programs, please contact John Yanelli, Director of the Music Program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Intensive Programs in Music (8 credits)

Advanced students who wish to concentrate half of their coursework (8 credits) in music may apply to an intensive program. All classes are conducted in French.

Students will audition and be interviewed for individual instruction at the specific institutions to which they are applying when they arrive in Paris. Instrumentalists and vocalists will perform a piece of their own choosing and may be asked to play a technical exercise. They should also be prepared to take diagnostic tests in solfege, theory, and harmony, including sight-reading, sight-singing, and dictation. Candidates will be placed at a level of study corresponding to their abilities. Final programs will be arranged and approved by the Sarah Lawrence Paris Program Director.

There are two intensive programs in music available:

Intensive Program in Jazz
Sarah Lawrence College partners with Le CIM for this program. Studies include 
all instruments and voice, solfege, theory, group workshops and orchestra. 

Sample Intensive Program in Jazz

  • Guitar
  • Reading Music
  • Rhythm
  • Sight-reading
  • Group Workshop

Intensive Program in Classical Music

Sarah Lawrence College partners with the highly competitive Ecole Normale de Musique for this program. Students are accepted by audition only. Studies include all instruments and voice, solfege, theory and analysis, composition, history, individual and ensemble performance.

Sample Intensive Program in Classical Music

  • History of Music
  • Violin
  • Reading Music
  • Chamber Music

 

Theatre

Paris’ cultural history and traditions provide an ideal context for the pursuit of theatrical experimentation.

All courses are conducted in French. A typical theater course consists of three components:

  • Theory or History
  • Acting Instruction
  • Movement or Voice

Students may enroll in courses at the following partner institutions:

Intensive Program in Theatre (8 credits)

Advanced students who wish to concentrate half of their coursework (8 credits) in theatre may apply to the intensive program. The intensive theatre program is open to full-year students only and requires a specific application process.

Students study at the Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School. The Lecoq technique, a form of physical theatre, applies the traditions of mime and dramatic choreography to acting. SLC Paris Program students are integrated into a fixed program of courses with French and international students, receiving daily training in movement analysis, acrobatics, improvisation, as well as group study with their peers.

For more information about the Lecoq Program and the application process, please contact Prema Samuel, Associate Dean of Global Education.

Intensive Program in Filmmaking (8 credits)

The Sarah Lawrence Intensive Program at the Ecole Internationale de Cinéma d’Audiovisuel et de Réalisation (EICAR), an International Film and Television School in Paris, allows students to acquire intensive training in the essential aspects of making a movie. The program, open to students with advanced proficiency in French, may be taken for one semester or a full year and carries 8 credits per semester (1/2 of the curriculum).

The study abroad Filmmaking Intensive is composed of two parts:

  • Theoretical: Courses in the history of cinema and the major theories of editing. The first course provides students with a general background in the field. The study of the theory of editing offers a review of the evolution of cinematographic language, developing students’ knowledge and awareness of the use of various narrative and stylistic effects. This knowledge is then put into practice through editing software (Adobe Premiere), special effects software (After Effects), sound editing software (Pro Tools), as well as calibration software (Da Vinci Resolve), all of which are essential in the making of a short movie.

  • Practical: Composed of workshops including HD camera, light (direct and indirect lighting, blonde, and redhead studio lights), sound editing (voice, noise, sound effects, etc.), scriptwriting (basics of dramaturgy, storytelling), and directing (apprehending acting, finesse of directing).

Sarah Lawrence students take classes with French students and work in groups to create 10-minute films that are completed at the end of the semester. After choosing the topic for a short film, students have weekly meetings with a tutor to progress in each stage of the project: writing the film (title, synopsis, screenplay, and note of intention), preproduction (composition of technical and artistic teams, production of documents for filming), shooting of the film, and post-production (image and sound editing, calibration, and mixing).

Sample Intensive Program

 

  • Preparation for Production
  • History of Cinema
  • Editing Workshop
  • Lighting Workshop
  • Screenwriting Workshop

Films by Former Students

Intensive Programs in the Social Sciences (8 credits)

Advanced students who specialize in the social sciences may apply to the intensive program at Sciences Po, France’s premier institution for the social sciences. Students may enroll in courses in economics, history, international relations, law, political science or sociology. Intensive program students take one lecture course with an accompanying methodology conference, and one seminar. In addition, they receive individual guidance and support during weekly conferences with an SLC Paris professor. The program is open to students with advanced proficiency in French and may be taken for one semester or a full year and carries 8 credits per semester (1/2 of the curriculum). Due to the rigor of Sciences Po, eligible students must demonstrate advanced proficiency both in speaking and in writing.

Sample (semester) intensive program in Politics/International Relations:

  • Lecture: Theory of International Relations
  • Methodology Conference: Theory of International Relations
  • Seminar : Communications and Politics: From the Advent of Universal Suffrage to Social Media
  • Weekly conferences with a Paris Program professor