2014-2015 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. Kilgo-Kelly; the second by Ms. Lee.

Advanced Beginning French: From Language to Literature

Faculty TBA
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 will be divided into two parts. The first semester will be exclusively centered on the intense, fast-paced, and thorough revision of the fundamentals of French grammar. Students will be encouraged to write multiple short essays and to participate in oral class activities and will be exposed to various kinds of documents in French (songs, movies, texts, etc.). The second semester of the course will continue this work on French language but with the introduction of literature and literary discussions. 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: Writing the Self: Autobiography, Memoir and “Auto-Fiction” from Rousseau to Ernaux, Section I

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 develop their analytical and creative writing skills in French through essays and rewrites. We will also be reading autobiographic works (excerpts only) by major French writers from the 1800s through the 2010s and will explore other forms of self-representation in French cinema, painting, and photography. We will discuss, among other topics, the borders between autobiography and memoir and between autobiography and fiction, and students will be invited to submit and discuss their own work (in the form of creative writing workshops). The Intermediate French I and II 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: The Writing of Everyday Life in French 20th-Century Literature

Intermediate—Year

This French course is designed for students who already have a strong understanding of the major aspects of French grammar and language but wish to develop their vocabulary and their grasp of more complex aspects of the language. Students are expected to be able to easily read more complex texts and to express themselves more abstractly. A major part of the course will be devoted to the study and discussion of literary texts in French. “Question your soupspoons.” In this challenge to his readers, Georges Perec summed up, in his unique manner, a particular strain of 20th-century French letters, one that seeks to turn literature’s attention away from the extraordinary, the scandalous, and the strange toward an examination of the ordinary makeup of everyday life. This course will examine some of the aesthetic and theoretical challenges that the representation of the quotidian entails. Does the everyday hide infinite depths of discovery, or does its value lie precisely in its superficiality? How do spaces influence our experience of everyday life? How can (and should) literature give voice to experiences and objects that normally appear undeserving of attention? How does one live one’s gender on an everyday basis? Can one ever escape from everyday life? We will review fundamentals of French grammar and speaking and develop tools for analysis through close readings of literary texts. Students will be encouraged to develop tools for the examination and representation of their own everyday lives in order to take up Perec’s call to interrogate the habitual. Readings will include texts by Proust, Breton, Aragon, Leiris, Perec, Queneau, Barthes, the Situationists, Ernaux, and Calle. 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: Situating Sartre

Intermediate, Advanced—Year

“Hell is other people,” famously declares Garcin at the end of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, No Exit. Perhaps no other line from 20th-century French literature has been so often quoted, appropriated, and misread as this proclamation on the fundamental relationship between self and the other. The statement’s popularity has contributed to a received image of Sartre as the standard bearer of a literature of angst, an avatar of antisociability. Yet this popular vision is often at odds with Sartre’s position as the preeminent public intellectual of postwar France, an author who thrust himself into public life by actively engaging with authors, philosophers, and politicians alike. In attempting to understand this apparent tension, this course will proceed in two directions. First, we will study Sartre’s major works of theatre, prose, and philosophy in order to better understand some of the central components of his own thought and writing, such as absurdity, bad faith, nausea, and committed literature. Second, we will read Sartre’s work in conjunction with, and in opposition to, other writers, including Camus, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Sarraute, Beckett, Genet, Césaire, Fanon, Bataille, and Barthes. We will focus, in particular, on those writers about whom Sartre wrote in his literary criticism, essays, and biographies in order to place Sartre among the literary trends of his time. Throughout the course, we will pay close attention to the following subjects: existentialism, the absurd, allegory, politics and literature, the antinovel, feminism, anticolonialism and antiracism. In this course, students will review the finer points of French grammar, improve their writing skills through regular assignments, and develop tools for literary analysis and commentary. Course conducted 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»