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.