2015-2016 French Courses

Beginning French: Language and Culture

Open—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. Course conducted in French. There will be two sections offered: the first by Mr. Leaveau; the second by Ms. Lee.

Advanced Beginning French: From Language to Literature

Open—Year

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 year, 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. Course conducted in French. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester.

Intermediate French I: French and Francophone Cinema (Section 1)

Intermediate—Year

This course will offer a systematic review of French grammar and is designed to strengthen and deepen the student’s mastery of grammatical structures and vocabulary. Students will also begin to use linguistic concepts as tools for developing their analytic writing. To this end, we will incorporate the study of French and francophone film into language learning. This course combines the history of French cinema (from its origins to the contemporary period) with a precise study of film form and film theory. We will pay special attention to the connections between social and historical conditions that gave rise to many trends in French cinema history. Students will watch, discuss, and analyze many landmark films through the lens of varied aspects of French and francophone civilization (history, politics, literature, class, ethnicity, gender, etc.). We will also read short literary works alongside these films in order to focus on skills of textual analysis and comprehension. 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. Course conducted in French. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester or by completion of Beginning/Advanced Beginning French.

Intermediate French I: Rebels, Eccentrics, and Decadents: How Outliers Shape Literature
(Section II)

Intermediate—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. To this end, we will incorporate the study of literary texts into the language learning. Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Apollinaire are among the most well-known French poets. They have become such a part of the canon that children in France memorize their poems in school. But when their work was first published, it was considered to be scandalous and even obscene in terms of both content and form. How then do they come to embody French literature to such an extent in the wider culture? What role do invention, singularity, and the idea of genius play in literary history? How can studying those on the margins inform our understanding of the mainstream? In this course, we will look at some major literary movements in France (e.g., Romanticism, Symbolism, Naturalism, Decadence, Surrealism) and consider the ways in which writers who rebel against accepted convention actually shape and influence the very definition of “literature.” Through the examination of key works—including poems, manifestos, prose, and visual art—we will explore certain critical moments in French literature and investigate questions about how the marginal becomes central. Authors studied will include Vivant Denon, Nerval, Gautier, Sand, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Huysmans, Tzara, Apollinaire, Colette, Breton, Aragon, and Debord. 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. 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. Course conducted in French. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester or by completion of Beginning French.

Intermediate French II: Journey There and Back Again: Travel, Displacement, and Migration in the Francophone World (19th to 20th Century)

Intermediate—Year

This francophone literature course, conducted entirely in French, is designed for students who already grasp major aspects of French grammar and language but wish to develop their oral and writing skills. Rigorous preparation and regular class participation will be major elements of the course. Students are expected to be able to easily read complex texts and analyze them in literary and historical terms. The central focus of the course will be devoted to the study and discussion of travel, mobility, and immigration between French colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, North Africa, South Asia, and metropolitan France. These topics will be studied in writing across a range of literary genres and visual arts. The first part of the course will focus on French travelers’ and colonial settlers’ constructions of “elsewhere” and “otherness” in connection to gender and race. The course will then explore forced and voluntary displacement of colonial people to highlight different aspects of cultural encounters, problems of integration, and identity crises. Finally, the course will raise the question of exile and the return to the homeland. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Maryse Condé, Marguerite Duras, Victor Hugo, Guy de Maupassant, Dany Lafèrière, Saint-John Perse, and Gisèle Pineau; films by Yamina Benguigui, Rachid Bouchareb, Djibril Diop Manbéty. 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. Course conducted in French. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester or by completion of Intermediate French I (possibly Advanced Beginning for outstanding students).

Intermediate French III/Advanced French: Fictions of the Self: Writing in the First Person From Montaigne to Modiano

Intermediate—Year

As contemporary French fiction is often seen as overly centered on the “moi,” a thinly veiled account of the author’s personal obsessions—and as Patrick Modiano (winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature) was recently acknowledged for his unique blend of first-person memoir, fictionalized family narrative, and ruminative historical enquiry—this course will offer an opportunity to go back to the origins of what appears to be a uniquely French way of approaching fiction. While narratives in the English-speaking world are generally divided between fiction and nonfiction, this distinction is not as relevant in the French tradition, allowing for more blurry lines between truth and invention. Questioning this division will be the main purpose of this course, which will explore various forms of first-person writing across a spectrum ranging from traditional autobiography to first-person novels casting the author’s life in a fictional mold—what the French call “auto-fiction.” Starting with Montaigne, Rousseau, and Stendhal, we will move to more challenging first-person narratives, including works by Proust and Céline, and new forms of “auto-fiction” in postwar France with authors such as Nathalie Sarraute, Jean Genet, and Samuel Beckett. Beyond our main discussion on the frontiers between fiction and nonfiction and the fictionalization of the self that can be observed in autobiography, we will address the frontiers between autobiography and other forms of first-person writing such as memoirs, letters, and the journal. Students will read excerpts, as well as complete works (for shorter works only). The course will include a review of the finer points of French grammar based on the texts that will be read in class. Students will improve their writing skills through regular assignments. They will also develop tools for literary analysis and will be introduced to the French essay format. Course conducted entirely in French.

Study Abroad in Paris

Eiffel TowerSLC's study abroad program in Paris, France, gives students the opportunity and the means to experience the creative and intellectual traditions that have made this city a destination for writers, artists and philosophers since medieval times. Students craft a personalized and intellectually stimulating course of study, while taking full advantage of Paris’ rich cultural life. Learn more»