French Studies
Offered by the French Studies department.

Course offerings in the Department of French Studies reflect our belief that a nation’s language, literature, and culture are inseparable, and that French literature is a privileged archive of Francophone cultures. The study of other cultures in their respective languages, and the investigation of the similarities and differences within and among nations, offer invaluable insight into our own language and culture.

Major requirements

French Studies major worksheet

The French studies major consists of 10 or more courses, including at least two taken the senior year.

Required

FR 235 Postcolonial Encounters
FR 236 Introduction to Early French Literature
FR 245 Contemporary France
Seven or more other courses above FR 221

By prior arrangement with the head of the French Studies department, students may substitute ARTH 240 or ARTH 250 or ARTH 253 or ARTH 300 or for one of the French courses.

Portfolio

Majors will keep all relevant coursework in an online portfolio. During their final semester, they will write a “déclaration personnelle” in which they will survey their work in the discipline, synthesize what they have learned, and communicate, in writing and then orally, the fruits of that reflection. This document, besides being a capstone to the major, also gives students a head start on applications for employment or graduate school.

Oral Proficiency

Senior majors, in the early part of their final semester, will demonstrate their mastery of spoken French through the OPIc exam, an online instrument designed to assess oral proficiency according to the guidelines of ACTFL (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). The department will bear the cost of this evaluation.

Study Abroad

A number of the major requirements may be met during a junior year spent at a French-speaking university in study programs approved by the department. Application to such programs is made during the first semester of the sophomore year. Note that the college requires that at least one-half of the courses in the major be taken at Wheaton. Students with a good mastery of the French language who are majoring in other fields can pursue these fields during a junior year abroad with the approval of their major department. The department strongly recommends a full year of study abroad in a French-speaking country for all majors.

Majors are encouraged to select courses in areas such as European history, philosophy, religion or history of art, which will strengthen their awareness of the French cultural background. Work in other national literatures, including English, is strongly encouraged.

Learning Outcomes for the French Studies Department

Students completing the major in French Studies at Wheaton shall:

  • with regard to the French language, be able to
    — express themselves effectively orally and in writing in interpersonal communications, and in formal and informal presentations
    — understand spoken and written French on a variety of topics both quotidian and academic
  • with regard to French literature, be able to
    — read and understand literary texts of all sorts from the early modern period to the present
    — situate these texts in their social and historical context
    — demonstrate an ability to analyze and to write cogently about these texts and to identify and use pertinent secondary sources
  • with regard to French civilization, be able to
    — demonstrate a knowledge of the major historical events, literary and artistic movements, and national and international accomplishments of the nation
    — have an awareness of the influence of France beyond its borders, and the language and literature of the Francophone world

Minor

French Studies minor worksheet

The French minor consists of five French courses, including at least two at the 300 level.

  • French Studies

    FR 099 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • French Studies

    FR 101 – Elementary French I

    For students with no prior experience in French. The course develops the ability to understand and speak authentic French in a meaningful context. The French in Action videodisks introduce students to language, customs, culture and everyday life in France. Classes on MWF; no scheduled lab.

  • French Studies

    FR 102 – Elementary French II

    For students continuing from French 101 – Elementary French I (FR 101), or students with prior experience in French who placed at that level. The course develops the ability to understand and speak authentic French in a meaningful context. The French in Action videodisks introduce students to language, customs, culture and everyday life in France. Classes on MWF; no scheduled lab.

  • French Studies

    FR 199 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • French Studies

    FR 201 – French in Review I

    A review of French grammar, largely through short readings and films. Students will develop a richer vocabulary and a broader knowledge of French and Francophone cultures, including literature and film. Classes on MWF; no scheduled lab.

  • French Studies

    FR 202 – French in Review II

    A more advanced grammar review, including the conditional, future, and subjunctive forms. Continued emphasis on vocabulary building. Performance of a poem or song in lieu of final exam. Classes MWF; no scheduled lab.

  • French Studies

    FR 221 – Read and Converse I

    A review of basic and introduction to advanced grammar and vocabulary. Read and Converse I and the next course in the sequence, Read and Converse II, prepare students for courses like “Introduction to Literature,” “Contemporary France,” and study abroad in France or other French-speaking countries. Emphasis is on acquiring vocabulary, writing, and speaking about francophone culture, film in particular. In addition to papers, students will do skits and other presentations in class.

Prerequisite: French 202 or permission of the instructor or by placement test

  • French Studies

    FR 222 – Read and Converse II

    Designed to perfect skills learned in French 221, and in preparation for courses like “Introduction to Literature” and “Contemporary France,” with an added emphasis on oral expression, including French phonetics and pronunciation. There will be close study and discussion of selected readings, plays, films, and short papers, dramatic performances and oral presentations.

  • French Studies

    FR 235 – Postcolonial Encounters

    Postcolonial encounters: What does it mean for the colonized to write in the language of the colonizer? We will try to answer that question through film screenings and the reading and discussion of novels, plays, poems and essays by 20th-century French writers such as Marguerite Duras as well as Vietnamese, African and West Indian Francophone writers. This course is part of connection 20041 (Colonial Encounters).

(Previously Introduction to Modern French Literature)

  • French Studies

    FR 236 – Introduction to Early French Literature

    Reading and discussion of novels and plays by major French authors from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. We will read, discuss and write about Tristan et Iseut, Racine’s Phèdre, Diderot’s La Religieuse and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. This course is part of connection 23004 (Gender) and connection 20008 (Gender Inequality: Sociological and Literary Perspectives).

  • French Studies

    FR 245 – Contemporary France

    What does it mean to be French today? What factors contribute to French national identity and how has that identity evolved in recent years? In this course, we look at the values that define French identity and how they are transmitted from one generation to the next. We look closely at education, government, religion, demographics and social policies as they affect work, race relations and the family. We conclude by studying how the European Union has changed French identity and politics.

  • French Studies

    FR 246 – Introduction to French Cinema

    What is implied by the expression “the seventh art”? How have French directors both resisted and appropriated the dominant Hollywood formula? How have they challenged social, political and sexual norms? In what ways have French directors influenced world cinema? A survey of classic films from the silent period, Poetic Realism, the New Wave, and more recent filmmakers. Directors studied may include Ganz, Carné, Renoir, Cocteau, Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer, Bunuel, Varda, Denis, Beineix, Ozon, Haneke. This course is part of connection 23014 (Film and Society).

  • French Studies

    FR 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • French Studies

    FR 299 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • French Studies

    FR 307 – Translation, Art and Craft

    An exploration of what the phrase “lost in translation” implies. Translation is considered here not as an end in itself, but as an effective means to enrich vocabulary, to refine writing style, to review grammar and to appreciate better what is “untranslatable” in French and English. Not recommended for students seeking extensive oral practice in French.

  • French Studies

    FR 320 – From François I to François Mitterrand: A Cultural History of Politics and Architecture

    Focusing on great works of art and architecture, from the châteaux of the Loire Valley, Fontainebleau and Versailles to the great works of Napoléon, Haussmann and François Mitterrand, we examine the construction of French national identity while investigating the personal and political motives that have driven French heads of state to build a cultural empire with universal aspirations. This course is part of connection 20087 (Culture, Society, and Politics in Early Modern France).

  • French Studies

    FR 327 – Moralists and Misanthropes, Sociability and Individualism in Literature of the Ancien Régime

    Examines texts from mid-17th- to mid-18th-century France that influenced public opinion and shaped modern moral and social ideas. Special attention is paid to the notions of sociability, honnêteté, the birth of individualism and to related questions of language and reciprocity. Readings include essays, plays and novels by authors like La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Molière, Marivaux, Voltaire, Diderot, Graffigny and Rousseau. This course is part of connection 20087 (Culture, Society, and Politics in Early Modern France).

  • French Studies

    FR 329 – French Chanson from Roland to Rap

    Fiercely defended, hotly debated: popular song in France is a touchstone of national identity. We’ll consider it as an expression and reflection of French cultures, and contend with questions such as “What makes a song French?” Successful students will end the semester more familiar with the “chanson” tradition and a deeper appreciation of the language and themes that nourish it. Readings, listening, films, discussion, exposés, and two papers.

  • French Studies

    FR 331 – Other Voices, Other Stories: Great Works by Women from France and the Francophone World

    In this course we study novels and short stories by contemporary women writers whose work defies traditional literary forms and introduces new modes of expression, whether as narrative experiments, figures of discourse or alternative texts–the body, for example, as metaphor or “text.” We explore how these writers respond to marginalization, subjugation or oppression through literature and how their stories operate on a political level. The course begins with a short introduction to French feminist theory. Authors may include Cixous, Leclerc, Duras, Letessier, Ernaux, Djébar, Tadjo, Bâ, Sow Fall. This course is part of connection 23006 (Sexuality).

  • French Studies

    FR 347 – Literature, the Arts and Society from the Dreyfus Affair to Vichy

    Emphasis on representative shorter works in prose, theatre, poetry and cinema. Readings may include Proust, Apollinaire, Colette, Césaire, Sartre and the surrealists. Consideration of issues such as the decline of the realist novel, cross-pollination in the arts, the communal loss of innocence after the “Great War,” and the birth of négritude.

  • French Studies

    FR 349 – Les Trente Glorieuses

    The 1945-1975 period was marked by both material prosperity and cultural ferment. Is there a relationship between these two worlds? Particular focus on France in the 1950s. Likely readings: existentialism (Sartre, Camus), postwar poetry (Prévert, Ponge), feminine voices (Beauvoir, Sarraute, Duras, Rochefort), essays in cultural criticism (Barthes) and the nouveau roman (Robbe-Grillet)

  • French Studies

    FR 352 – The Quill and the Brush

    What do we mean by “word” or “image,” and what do we do with them individually or in combination? In this creative writing course, we investigate the relationship between word and image in graphic novels or medieval tapestries; we deconstruct advertisements, photographs and movies. Students’ work will take many forms, from surrealist “Cadavres Exquis” to poems, collages, short stories and short videos. Theoretical texts by Barthes, Sontag and Berger. This course is part of connection 23012 (Visualizing Information).

  • French Studies

    FR 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • French Studies

    FR 399 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • French Studies

    FR 500 – Individual Research

    Selected majors are invited by the department to pursue individual research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis.

Kirk Anderson

Professor of French Studies; Chairman, French Studies Department

Cecile Danehy

Associate Professor of French Studies

Benjamin Fancy

Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellow in French

Edward J. Gallagher

Professor of French Studies, Emeritus

Jonathan David Walsh

Professor of French Studies