French Courses

Fall 2020

Versailles: Court and Culture from Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette
Three hundred and sixty years ago, the young Louis XIV, King of France, began transforming his father's hunting lodge at Versailles into the site par excellence of absolute monarchy and court society. In this course we will study the making and meaning of the palace and its gardens, and analyze some of the manifold cultural artifacts associated with them. Readings, both literary and non-literary, will be complemented by various visual resources, ranging from original prints to websites and films.
Instructors: Volker Schröder
Beginner's French I
This class develops the basic structures and vocabulary for understanding, speaking, writing, and reading in French. Classroom activities foster communication and cultural competence through comprehension and grammar exercises, skits, conversation and the use of a variety of audio-visual materials.
Instructors: Sandie Pauline Pascal Blaise, Johnny Laforêt
Intensive Beginner's and Intermediate French
FRE 103 is an intensive beginning and intermediate language course designed for students who have already studied French (typically no more than 2-3 years). Covering in one semester the material presented in FRE 101 and FRE 102, this course prepares students to take FRE 107 the following semester. Classroom activities include comprehension and grammar exercises, conversation, skits, and working with a variety of audio-visual materials.
Instructors: Sandie Pauline Pascal Blaise
Intermediate French
The main objective of this course is to develop your listening, speaking and writing skills, while allowing you to strengthen your knowledge of contemporary French society and culture. There is a thorough review of French grammar and a wide range of communicative activities chosen to improve proficiency and give practice of newly acquired linguistic material. The course aims at building your confidence in French, while giving you a foundation for the understanding and appreciation of French-speaking cultures and exposing you to their rich literary and artistic productions. A wide range of authentic material will be offered, including films.
Instructors: Raphael Jacques Piguet
Intermediate/Advanced French
The main objective of this course is to examine what it means to communicate in a foreign language while helping students strengthen their linguistic skills and gain transcultural and translingual competence. Students will reflect on differences in meaning through the study of diverse cultural modules, including stereotypes; slang; advertisements; Impressionist art; Occupied France; current events; and French and Francophone literary texts and films.
Instructors: Carole Marithe Trévise
Advanced French
FRE 108 is an intermediate advanced course. It will take you on a journey through various periods of French history and culture and offer an opportunity to reflect on important questions at the center of contemporary debates. Examples include: the role of the State in the shaping of the nation, the organic revolution, the role of education in our society, etc... We have selected a wide variety of materials (films, videos, music, newspaper articles and literary texts) and carefully incorporated them into the curriculum so you will develop the ability to communicate and gain understanding of French and francophone cultures and societies.
Instructors: Murielle Marie Perrier
Studies in French Language and Style
An interdisciplinary course proposing the study of language, culture, and French and Francophone literatures organized around the theme "Visions fantastiques". Includes the study of different genres and mediums on topics including fairy tales and folk tales; utopias and dystopias; science fiction; and folly, dreams and the surreal. The course offers a review and reinforcement of advanced grammatical structures and aims to improve written and oral expression through the study of texts.
Instructors: Raphael Jacques Piguet
Speak up! An Introduction to Topics in the Francophone World
This course is a discussion-based seminar, taught entirely in French, integrating cultural and linguistic learning. We will explore the Francophone world, examining a wide range of topics and issues and interacting with guest speakers from the regions studied. The course will provide intensive language practice, with an emphasis on the acquisition of a rich lexical base for social, economic, political and cultural topics and consolidation of grammatical foundations. Topics will vary from semester to semester and may include environmental, educational, health, social, cultural and political issues as well as aesthetic considerations.
Instructors: Carole Marithe Trévise
French Theater Workshop
L'Avant-Scène will offer students the opportunity to put their language skills in motion by discovering French theater in general and by acting in French, in particular. The course will introduce students to acting techniques while allowing them to discover the richness of the French dramatic canon. Particular emphasis will be placed on improving students' oral skills through pronunciation and diction exercises. At the end of the semester, the course will culminate in the performance of the students' work.
Instructors: Florent Masse
France Today: Culture, Politics, and Society
This course is designed to develop students' linguistic skills and broaden their knowledge of contemporary French society. Discussions and essays will cover a wide range of topics drawn from economic, political, social and cultural aspects of France and the francophone world. Current affairs will be discussed in class on a regular basis. The course will provide intensive language practice and students will improve their communication skills by completing a research project, to be presented orally and in writing, on a topic of their choice. Excellent preparation for French-speaking internships or Sciences-Po semester.
Instructors: Christine M. Sagnier
Paris Live(s)
The City of Light Beacons. Beyond the myth, however, this course proposes to look at the real "lives" of Paris. Focusing on the modern and contemporary period, we will study Paris as an urban space, an object of representation, and part of French cultural identity. To do so, we will use an interdisciplinary approach, with literature, history, sociology, art history, architecture, etc. And to keep learning about its history and its making, we will actually travel to Paris. During the Fall Break trip, students will not only (re)visit the city, but also meet guest speakers and conduct personal projects they will have begun in Princeton.
Instructors: André Benhaïm
The Rise of France: French Literature, Culture, and Society from the Beginnings to 1789
This course examines the evolution of French society and culture during the Ancien Régime (i.e., from the Middle Ages to the Revolution). We will explore the main cultural and social ideas of the period by studying historical documents as well as outstanding literary and artistic works. We will also reflect on how later representations of the Ancien Régime were shaped. Topics include: courtly love, the discovery of the New World, political absolutism and Versailles court culture, the opposition to political and social authorities in the Enlightenment period.
Instructors: Flora Champy
Politics and Environment in France
This course is designed to improve spoken and written French while exposing students to a number of urgent topics in French environmental politics: climate change, energy politics, food safety, pollution, animal rights, public health, risk management, landscape conservation, and degrowth. What makes the French case unique? How has French history, including Enlightenment and colonialism, shaped current activism, green politics, and the backlash against "ecofascism"? Discussion, debates, and creative projects will center on films, bandes dessinées, literature, art, philosophy, and essays; the course is writing and speaking intensive.
Instructors: Göran Magnus Blix
Advanced French Language and Style
To improve spoken and written French through attentive study of French grammatical and syntactic structures and rhetorical styles, with a variety of creative, analytical and practical writing exercises, and reading of literary and non-literary texts.
Race in France
This interdisciplinary course explores the topic of race in France, from the earliest populations to inhabit the land now called France to the multiracial communities that reside there today. Approached through a variety of fields (law, ethnography, biology, literature, philosophy, and political theory) students will study themes such as colonialism and immigration, scientific and juridical racism, anti-racist activism, and various racial imaginaries that mark the country's cultural production. Lecture in English with both English and French precepts.
Instructors: Christy Nicole Wampole
Laughing with the Other: Humor and Alterity in French and Francophone Modern Literature and Culture
From colonization to civil war, Francophone Africa and the Caribbean are little understood beyond such grave issues of urgency and violence. However, no society, its people or their realities are homogenously desolate. Through the study of novels, graphic novels, films and stand-up, this course explores the place of humor in French literature and culture of Francophone Africa and the Caribbean. By the end of the seminar, students will have engaged with different forms of humor and will have acquired the skills to think critically about the capacity of humor in decolonizing French constructions of racial, gender and ethnic alterity.
Instructors: André Benhaïm
The Literature of Environmental Disaster
The Anthropocene names, paradoxically, the simultaneous advent of human mastery over nature and the epoch of runaway climate change. The challenges posed by our very success, from air pollution and flooding to nuclear fallout and plagues, from agribusiness to petro-imperialism, suggest the urgency of rethinking our relationship to nature beyond mere technical fixes. Literature sheds a unique light on how distinct cultures and individuals live this rapport. By studying novels, films, plays, and essays from France, Russia, Nigeria, Japan, and the US, we will see how the literary imagination can enrich our understanding of this global crisis.
Instructors: Göran Magnus Blix
Producing Theater: French Festivals Today
The course will explore the creation, production, and management of pioneering international festivals from France's main historic festivals, such as Festival d'Avignon and Festival d'Automne, to more recent and emerging ones worldwide. It will use Seuls en Scène, Princeton French Theater Festival's ninth annual edition, as a case study, and closely follow its offerings at the onset of the fall semester. Leaders in the field will visit the seminar to share their experiences on festival management and missions, and discuss the true role of a festival nowadays.
Instructors: Florent Masse
Junior Seminar in French Studies
This interdisciplinary course explores the state of French and Francophone Studies today and offers students a variety of methodologies and theoretical frameworks they may apply to their own research projects. Students will receive practical training in digital humanities, archival research, close and far reading, and will study the ways critical race theory, environmental humanities, semiotics, media studies, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality studies, poetics, and postcolonial studies have impacted the academic study of French-language literature and culture.
Instructors: Christy Nicole Wampole
Topics in Francophone Literature, Culture, and History: Slavery and Capitalism in the Francophone World
This course will study the interrelation of slavery and capitalism in the francophone Caribbean, from the Haitian Revolution to the present. The course will examine a series of classic works that contest French Caribbean colonialism and slavery, from the perspective of the historical transition from late imperialist feudalism to industrial and post-industrial capitalism. Writers addressed will include CLR James, Karl Marx, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Eric Williams, Edouard Glissant, and Maryse Condé.
Instructors: F. Nick Nesbitt
Seminar in 17th-Century French Literature: Le Merveilleux sous Louis XIV
This seminar explores the presence of the marvelous in French literature of the "classical age" (1650-1700). What is the role of the extraordinary, the supernatural, and the fabulous in a strictly ordered and increasingly rational and sceptical world? How can literature and art astonish, enchant, and transport while following the rules of reason and verisimilitude? Readings range from mythological dramas to fairy tales, considered with relation to critical debates about the merveilleux and the sublime, the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, and the discourse of absolute monarchy.
Instructors: Volker Schröder
20th-Century French Narrative Prose: Voice Matters
This course explores the narrative articulation of conflict and loss in a selection of works from different historical contexts, including slavery, the Holocaust, and the postcolonial world. Emphasis is placed on voice both from a narratological perspective and as a mode of thematization pertaining to such issues as class, gender, and race. Subjects to be discussed also include history, memory, and memorialization; the features of posttraumatic life; and the question of créolité.
Instructors: Thomas Alan Trezise
Seminar in 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature: Money in the 19C Novel
The great innovation of literary fiction in the nineteenth century is to tell stories about money - how it is made, handled, invested and lost, how it weighs on the lives of rich people, poor people, women in search of husbands and young men in search of a position. These new themes arise just as writers themselves become able to earn money from their work. This course studies the money-plots of a selection of major European novels written between 1830 and 1890 alongside the changing economic status of the writers of novels in the same period. The primary focus is on France and England, with additional material from Russia.
Instructors: David Michael Bellos
Rousseau's Politics
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is one of the most influential and controversial figures of Early modern political philosophy. Prosecuted by the authorities in his native demo-theocratic Geneva as well as in the French absolutist kingdom, Rousseau analyzed politics as a moralist reflecting on collective habits, as a severe critic of social inequality, as a philosopher attempting to lay down the "principles of political right" while addressing government practices, and as an innovative writer. This course explores Rousseau's multi-faceted political thought, reflecting on the methodologies adequate to apprehend such a complex work.
Instructors: Flora Champy
Topics in French and Francophone Critical Theory: Spinoza and French Theory
Course provides an introduction to key French thinkers via the reception of Spinoza's philosophy in French Theory. Philosophers to include Deleuze, Althusser, Macherey, Balibar, Negri, and Badiou. Course also develops readings of the main Spinozist texts through the various lenses of this reception.
Instructors: F. Nick Nesbitt