French Studies
Term:    Level:  

Spring Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
Texts of contemporary literary or social interest provide the focus for more advanced conversation, reading, and composition. Classes are conducted entirely in French.
Students are taught to conceptualize in French as they learn to understand, read, write, and speak. Classes are conducted entirely in French and meet daily. Language Laboratory attendance is required.
Accelerated second half of first-year French. Students are taught to conceptualize in French as they learn to read, write, and speak. Students develop an awareness of and sensibility to French and Francophone life and culture through reading, viewing, and discussion. Course may be offered online.
Texts of contemporary literary or social interest provide the focus for more advanced conversation, reading, and composition. Classes are conducted entirely in French.
Tutoring Program in which advanced French students provide assistance to students at a lower level. One hour of tutoring per week. If interested, email Maryse Mijalski at
Required intensive writing course for French majors to explore in depth selected topic in French literature and culture. Students complete major independent research project on topic studied, making use of literary and critical materials in their capstone essay. In French.

In this course, students will learn to conduct research on a precise topic, compile a bibliography, and write and revise a long analytical paper (12-15 pages). Each student has the opportunity to choose and develop his/her own research question over the course of an entire quarter. Regular meetings with the teacher and other students allow opportunities for discussion and peer review, but independent work and individual motivation is required to complete each part of the paper-writing process in a timely manner. At the end of the academic year, students may present the results of their research and writing along with other majors in the Department of European Languages & Studies at the celebratory Thesis Event.

No required texts, but a good dictionary, a grammar text, and a verb conjugation book are more than highly recommended.
We call absurd a system in which the inferences we draw from a certain set of premises contradict those very premises. Yet, what would happen if human existence was itself part of such a system? How would the life and the condition of humans be any different from the one we experience? In post-WW2 France these questions became so central in art, literature and philosophy, that the substantive “the absurd” was invented to refer to the works of a heterogeneous set of writers which featured among others Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Emil Cioran. 

Indeed, they did not and could not rally around a cause that was not one, and therefore they did not form a movement. Yet they did take part in a diverse philosophical, literary and aesthetic moment, which was marked by the traumatic experience of the two world wars and characterized by a profound sense of collapse of all the metaphysical foundations of the European continent's self-defining ideals of religion, culture, civilization and historical progress. They shared a somewhat common experience of impossible metaphysical reconciliation between the brutish factuality of existence and the human desire for meaning — a common experience of the inherent absurdity and irremediable sense of alienation of the human condition. 

This course sets out to explore how this metaphysical experience of the absurd resulted paradoxically in one of the most fecund and creative periods in artistic and literary forms. While we will focus primarily on essays and plays by the afore-mentioned writers, we will also discuss the philosophical background of these works and their relations with influential precursors such as Dostoevsky, Kafka and the Surrealists. The course will be taught in English.
A journey through the French and Francophone literary and intellectual history of the 20th century, where we address French and Maghrebi authors like  Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Assia Djebar, Abdelkebir Khatibi, Tahar Ben-Jelloun.
Course taught entirely in French.
Modern literature and art have never stopped to question the ways we represent ourselves and the world we live in. At the same time, modern societies are deeply concerned with the ways power is founded and legitimated through political representation, most prominently in the debates on democracy. The various avant-garde movements of the modern era show that the two forms of representation – the aesthetic and the political – are inextricably linked, most powerfully in regards to the question of “the people”: Who is represented? By whom? And how?

Starting with the emblematic case of the French Revolution of 1789 and the ways it was imagined by writers, artists and thinkers, this course will offer an overview of how Western – and especially French – culture tells the story of the “people” and their representation(s), from the early modern Renaissance and its ambition to redraw the figure of ‘man’ to contemporary forms of artistic and political expression struggling to find new ways of representing the postmodern world and its people.
Reading, writing and discussions will be in English. The reading material will be made available on the course’s Canvas page at the beginning of the quarter.

Participants will take two exams – midterms and finals – each composed of short-answer- questions and an essay (40% each of the final grade). You are also expected to participate in class discussions and hand in short writing assignments (20% of the final grade).
Les Contemplations (1856), Les Fleurs du mal (1857)—One year, what a contrast!  These two books published almost on top of one another will provide students a chance to improve poetry reading skills while examining a big shift in lyric poetry. 

Hugo’s book is a poetic autobiography, “les mémoires d’une âme.” Published from exile, the collection situates the poet in nature, remembering what was and prophesying what is to come from the perspective of a Romantic, now positioned as a humanitarian citizen of the world.  In reading Les Contemplations, a book grounded in poetic tradition, we will work on methods of reading poetry, and will study how Hugo appropriates the poetic tradition for his socialist-humanist ends.

Meanwhile, the heavily-indebted Baudelaire lived in Paris, moving from apartment to apartment, always just ahead of eviction. In his diagnosis, the poet’s fate henceforth is to live in exile from nature and from ideas of home, in a metropolis undergoing vast political, social and economic transformations. When Baudelaire claimed that not a poem could be removed from his book without harm to its “architecture secrète,” he was proposing his book as part of the urban renovation of Paris occurring at the time.  In Baudelaire’s view, the lyric poem must break with tradition, become modernist and anti-Romantic to help build the new city.  We will study attentively changes introduced by Les Fleurs du mal into the poetic tradition, looking at their import for modernism and modernity.

Frequent short writing assignments; 2 longer papers; 1 oral presentation.