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


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 of 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 as exemplified by the French “Black-Blanc-Beur” soccer team that Zidane led to victory in the World Cup in 1998. 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. 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. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester or completion of Beginning French. Course conducted in French.