French

Christopher Rivers, Chair

Stacey Pare, Academic Department Coordinator


115 Ciruti Language Center
413-538-2074
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/french

Overview and Contact Information

The French curriculum is intended to develop skills in the language and provide a broad and varied acquaintance with French and Francophone cultures and literatures. Taking as its premise that language gives access to new and different cultures, the program makes available to students the textual, oral, and visual products of the French-speaking world. It also offers familiarity with the interdisciplinary exchanges—art, literature, history, politics, music, philosophy—that inform French studies today.

The department offers courses in language, culture, and literature at all levels. All courses are conducted in French with the exception of the department’s first-year seminars and the Romance Language and Literatures Seminar (FREN-321). The Romance Language seminar is taught in English but all reading and writing are done in French.

In language courses students work with native French and Francophone assistants in small supplementary conversation groups. Many culture and literature courses are either speaking-intensive or writing-intensive, and in some, writing mentors are provided. Students are encouraged to attend weekly language tables held in a private dining room of one of the dorms and have access to weekly drop-in tutoring sessions in addition to one-on-one tutoring for more in-depth remediation. Technological resources—Web-based and computer-assisted applications, videoconferencing, iMovie, and various multimedia tools—are used in courses at all levels to foster individual learning and to promote communication with the international community. A comprehensive library of DVDs and classic French texts is maintained in the department office.

Graduates of Mount Holyoke who have majored in French have used the analytical skills and means of expression acquired during their studies to pursue a wide range of career options: education, government service, law, international banking, publishing, and marketing, among others. Each spring, the department sponsors a Major Tea and Career Panel inviting to campus three or four alumnae with diverse occupations to speak about the benefits and opportunities that their French major has brought to their careers.

Study Abroad

Mount Holyoke College has its own study abroad program in Montpellier, France, and is also affiliated with the Sweet Briar College Junior Year in France Program. A student spending her junior year in France or a Francophone country with a program approved by the department will normally meet some of the requirements of her major through study abroad. The programs are open to both majors and non-majors.

Students must have successfully completed at least one 4-credit course each semester they are enrolled at Mount Holyoke prior to departure for study abroad (excluding independent study). They also should have completed at least one course in culture and literature at the 200 level (FREN-215, FREN-219, or FREN-225).

Bringing Back Credit from Study in France or Other Francophone Country

  • French majors who spend a full year/two semesters abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of three courses (12 credits), in addition to the required 4 credits worth of advanced language course work, for a total of 16 credits maximum toward the major.
  • French majors who spend only one semester abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of two courses (8 credits), in addition to the required 4 credits of advanced language course work, for a total of 12 credits maximum toward the major.
  • French minors who spend a full year/two semesters abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of two courses, for a total of 8 credits maximum toward the minor.
  • French minors who spend only one semester abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of one course, for a total of 4 credits maximum toward the minor.

Please consult the French department and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives for details about these and other programs. Eligible students who are selected to participate in the Montpellier program may use their Mount Holyoke financial aid to do so. Mount Holyoke financial aid for Sweet Briar, as well as for other approved study abroad programs, is awarded on a competitive basis. Scholarships, specifically for study in France or Italy, are available to qualified undergraduates from the Mary Vance Young Scholarship Fund. Information about financing study abroad may be obtained from the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

Honors Work

The French department is pleased to support senior independent study projects during the fall semester undertaken by students with a proven track record of exceptionally high performance in course work in French. However, continuation of these projects toward completion of a thesis to be considered for possible honors is not guaranteed and is contingent upon approval of the department.

French Department Prizes

In order to be eligible to receive a French Department prize, students must take a minimum of two French courses over the academic year.

Faculty

This area of study is administered by the Department of French:

Samba Gadjigo, Professor of French

Elissa Gelfand, Dorothy Rooke McCulloch Professor of French

Catherine Le Gouis, Professor of French

Christopher Rivers, Professor of French

Sonya Stephens, Professor of French; Acting President

Nancy Holden-Avard, Senior Lecturer in French

Carolyn Shread, Lecturer in French

Catherine Bloom, Language Instructor in French

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

Two of the following 4-credit intermediate courses in culture and literature:8
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World
Two 4-credit electives in culture and literature at the 200 or 300 level 18
Three additional 4-credit electives in culture and literature at the 300 level 212
Four credits of advanced language study 34
Total Credits32
1

One or both of these electives may be a course in another department and taught in English provided they focus substantially on French or Francophone material and pre-approval has been granted by the Chair of the French department

2

It is recommended that at least one of these courses include a significant pre-1800 component

3

French majors who study abroad, for a summer, semester or year, are required to complete at least four credits' worth of advanced language work while abroad. When possible, this should include work in both oral French (typically, a course in phonetics) and written French (a course in grammar, composition, stylistics, or translation); in some cases, a single course may cover both written and oral components. A French major who does not study abroad is encouraged to find comparable course work in advanced language within the Five College system, in consultation with her adviser for the French major (for example, French 371 or French 473 at UMass); if that proves impossible, she may simply complete an extra 300-level course in French in order to fulfill the minimum requirement of 32 credits for the major

Additional Specifications

  • Note that independent study (FREN-295 and FREN-395) will not be counted among the required courses listed above.
  • Students should also consider complementing the French major with courses in other disciplines dealing with France, Francophone countries, or Western Europe, such as international relations, art history, English, European studies, geography, history, language, music, philosophy, politics, or religion.
  • A student may design her French major around a particular topic, century, theme, or area such as French or Francophone studies; gender/women’s studies; medieval studies; eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century studies; theatre studies; film studies; classicism; symbolism; travel literature, etc. She should work closely with a faculty advisor to select appropriate courses in other departments, which may include independent study that would complement her course work in French. Whenever graduate study in French is contemplated, the major should include courses covering several centuries of French culture and literature.

  • The major program should provide continuity in the study of French. To this end, at least one 4-credit course taught in French must be elected each semester of the junior and senior years.

  • See Study Abroad information in the overview for information about crediting courses taken on study abroad towards the major.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 16 credits:

Two of the following intermediate courses in culture and literature:8
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World
Two advanced courses in culture and literature (300 level)8
Total Credits16

Additional Specifications

Teacher Licensure

Students interested in pursuing licensure in the field of French can combine their course work in French with a minor in education. In some instances, course work in the major coincides with course work required for licensure; in other cases, it does not. For specific course requirements for licensure within the major of French, please consult your advisor or the chair of the French department. Further information about the minor in education and the Teacher Licensure program is available in other sections of the catalog, or consult Sarah Frenette, Teacher Licensure Coordinator in the psychology and education department.

Licensure also requires a formal application as well as passing scores on the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL) in both the literacy component and the subject matter component. Copies of the test objectives for the MTEL are available in the French department and in the Department of Psychology and Education.

Additional information about the Licensure Program, including application materials, can be found on the Teacher Licensure Program website.

Course Advice

Course Selection/Foreign Language Requirement

Students who have never studied French should enroll in FREN-101FREN-102, a two-semester course for beginners. Those who have previously studied French at Mount Holyoke and who wish to continue must have the prerequisites stipulated for specific courses.

All students must take a placement test online.

If you enroll in FREN-101 as a first-year student, and are interested in studying in a French-speaking country during your third year, you will need to accelerate your French language studies. Your advisor will assist you in working out a plan of study, which may include altering your course sequence, for example going directly to FREN-201 after FREN-101 if you have made sufficient strides in acquiring elementary French, or to FREN-203 instead of FREN-201 after completing FREN-102. See acceleration information here.

Advanced Courses

The department’s 300-level courses represent a variety of approaches to advanced work in French studies and thus reflect the diversity within the field of French today. Specific offerings under the general rubrics change from year to year. Prerequisites for all 300-level courses (except FREN-370) are two of the following: FREN-215, FREN-219, or FREN-225. Students who do not have the stipulated prerequisites must consult the department chair and the course instructor.

Course Offerings

FREN-101 Elementary French

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

An introduction to understanding, speaking, reading, and writing French. The videotape-based method 'French in Action' provides a lively story line and cultural context for the acquisition of basic grammatical structures with a conversational focus. The course includes frequent composition writing. French 101/102 is recommended for students with no previous training in French or a maximum of one year of French at the high school level.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Bloom, N. Holden-Avard
Prereq: Placement test required even if no previous study of French; score 0-100.
Notes: Students who take French 101 in the spring and who wish to continue in French should plan on taking French 199 the following fall. (Students who have done strong work in French 101 in the spring may, with the approval of their instructor, take French 201 the following fall.)

FREN-102 Elementary French

Spring. Credits: 4

Continuation of French 101, an introduction to understanding, speaking, reading, and writing French. The videotape-based method "French in Action" provides a lively story line and cultural context for the acquisition of basic grammatical structures with a conversational focus.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Bloom, N. Holden-Avard
Prereq: FREN-101.

FREN-199 Advanced Elementary French

Fall. Credits: 4

A course in language and culture for elementary-level students with some previous study of French. The videotape-based method French in Action provides a lively story line and cultural context for a thorough review of grammar, and the development of listening and speaking skills. The course concentrates on vocabulary building, writing, and developing ease and competence in spoken French.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Shread
Advisory: placement score of 100-200

FREN-201 Intermediate French

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

A comprehensive grammar review aimed at developing language skills in context and providing a foundation for continued study of writing, speaking, reading, and listening in French. Using 'French In Action' and various methods and multimedia tools, all sections will concentrate on: study of grammatical structures as means of communication; frequent compositions to develop effective writing strategies; reading short literary and non-literary texts; and, guided oral expression through structured discussions and exercises.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Shread
Prereq: FREN-102 or FREN-199, placement score of 200-350, or department placement.

FREN-203 Advanced Intermediate French

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course will improve students' writing and speaking skills in French and develop their ability to read and analyze texts. Course materials include authors and films representing cultures of the French-speaking world. Written and oral expression are strengthened through weekly essays, class discussion, and comprehensive grammar review.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
A. Alquier, C. Bloom, E. Gelfand C. LeGouis
Prereq: FREN-201, placement score of 350-450, or department placement.

FREN-215 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces students to literature and culture from a variety of perspectives. It will increase confidence and skill in writing and speaking; integrate historical, political, and social contexts into the study of literary texts from France and the French-speaking world; and bring understanding of the special relevance of earlier periods to contemporary French and Francophone cultural and aesthetic issues. Students explore diversified works - literature, historical documents, film, art, and music - and do formal oral and written presentations.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
E. Gelfand, C. LeGouis
Prereq: FREN-203, placement score of 450 or higher, or department placement.

FREN-219 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces the literatures of French-speaking countries outside Europe. Readings include tales, novels, plays, and poetry from Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and other areas. Discussions and short papers examine the texts as literary works as well as keys to the understanding of varied cultures. Students will be asked to do formal oral and written presentations.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: FREN-203, placement score of 450 or higher, or department placement.

FREN-225 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course will introduce students to contemporary popular culture in France and the French-speaking world, largely through the study of recent (post-1990) best-selling novels, popular music, and feature films. Students will be asked to give formal oral presentations based on up-to-date materials gathered from the Internet and/or French television and to participate actively in class discussion.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
C. Rivers
Prereq: FREN-203, placement score of 450 or higher, or department placement.

FREN-230 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Civilization of France

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Images et Patrimoine: In this multimedia course students learn to decode images and study the social and historical context of French art and architecture: Medieval tapestries, Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance castles, Classic and Rococo art, and nineteenth century schools of painting. Students give in-class presentations and write essays about notable French landmarks. The purpose of such inquiry is to revisit the past and see how it has affected contemporary French society. All course material is online.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
The department
Prereq: FREN-203 or a placement score of 450 or higher.
Advisory: French 203, or placement score of 450+, or department placement

FREN-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

Advanced Courses

FREN-311 Period Courses

The usual periodization of French literature and culture is by century. Some period courses focus on the characteristics of specific centuries. Others focus on artistic or intellectual movements: gothic, Renaissance, romantic. All period courses, whatever their conceptual framework, integrate texts and historical contexts.

FREN-311DN Period Courses: 'The Detective Novel in France'

Spring. Credits: 4

The French detective novel found its origins in Poe and in the disillusionment and malaise of the increasingly urban universe of the nineteenth century. It generally centered on a dark, mysterious Parisian atmosphere that spoke to a growing public awareness of the worlds of crime and of the police. Realist novelists, in particular Dostoevsky, enriched the genre's conventions, but the detective novel evolved beyond realism as it moved into the twentieth century, combining unsettling social critique with reassuringly flawless reasoning.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. LeGouis
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, 219, 225, 230, or permission of department chair and course instructor.

FREN-311LM Period Courses: 'Les Misérables'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Hugo's epic masterpiece, written in exile, has everything: ceaseless adventures, crimes and punishments, love, hate, obsession, heroes, villains, the battle of Waterloo, and civil war. The sympathetic everyman, Jean Valjean, condemned to hard labor for stealing bread and relentlessly pursued by the pitiless policeman Javert, encounters unforgettable characters. We will examine how Hugo situates Valjean's escapes within a framework of social injustice and good triumphing over evil, balancing his political and romantic ideas. Reading, discussion, film screenings.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. LeGouis
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225, FREN-230.

FREN-321 Genre Courses

This interdisciplinary seminar will focus on a comparative study of Romance languages or literatures. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Seminar discussions will be conducted in English, but students wishing to obtain language credit are expected to read works in at least one original language. Papers will be written in either English or the Romance language of the student's choice.

FREN-321MD Genre Courses: 'Mothers & Daughters'

Spring. Credits: 4

Study of this crucial and problematic relationship in modern novels and films from Romance cultures. Exploration of the mother-daughter bond as literary theme, social institution, psychological dynamic, and metaphor for female creativity. Readings include Western myths and diverse theories of family arrangements (Rousseau, Freud, Chodorow, Rich, Irigaray, Giorgio, Mernissi, Nnaemeka). Authors and films will be grouped cross-culturally by theme and chosen from among: Colette, Vivanti, Morante, Ernaux, Tusquets, Roy, Roig, Rodoreda, Martin Gaite, Ramondino, Pineau, Beyala, Bouraoui; films: Children of Montmartre (La maternelle); Indochine; The Silences of the Palace; My Mother Likes Women.

Crosslisted as: SPAN-360MD, ITAL-361MD, GNDST-333MD,ROMLG-375MD
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
E. Gelfand
Advisory: For Language Majors: two courses in culture and literature at the 200 level. Also open to non-language majors with no prerequisite.
Notes: Note: Students wishing to obtain 300-level credit in French, Italian, or Spanish must read texts and write papers in the Romance language for which they wish to receive credit. Technical support is provided in Audacity, Photoshop, iMovie, and iDVD, through scheduled workshops in LRC.

FREN-331 Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches

These courses examine a definable phenomenon--an idea, a movement, an event, a mentality, a cultural structure or system, an historical problem, a critical mode--relevant to the civilization of France or of French-speaking countries. Readings from a variety of disciplines shed light on the particular aspect of thought or culture being studied.

FREN-331FR Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches: 'Family Romances: Memories of Childhood in French and Francophone Fiction and Film'

Fall. Credits: 4

Study of twentieth-century narratives of childhood from French-speaking cultures. How has the conception of childhood varied across time and different societies? What forms and techniques have writers, filmmakers, and artists used to render early life experiences? With what social, psychological, and aesthetic issues have their stories engaged? What ideologies underlie and limit the Western 'family romance' model of development? Authors may include: Colette; Pérec; Ernaux; Nothomb; Laye; Chamoiseau; Begag; Sebbar; films: Les 400 coups; Diabolo Menthe; La Rue Cases-Nègres; Chocolat; L'esquive.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
E. Gelfand
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225, or FREN-230, or permission of department chair and course instructor,

FREN-331SE Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches: 'Writing and Politics: Literature as Social Engagement'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Study of French and Francophone writers, filmmakers, and artists, in their specific contexts, whose works engage with important political and social issues of their time and place. Preliminary readings theorize how texts can communicate, explicitly or implicitly, an ideological stance. We will then consider imaginative works, from the Middle Ages to the present, whose thematic, narrative, cinematic, stylistic, or linguistic techniques connect with movements for social or cultural change.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
E. Gelfand
Prereq: 12 credits including two courses at the advanced level, or permission of department chair and course instructor.

FREN-341 Courses in Francophone Studies

These courses study nonmetropolitan French-speaking cultures and literary works written in French outside Europe. Areas of focus are one or more of the following regions: Africa, the Caribbean, or Canada.

FREN-341FS Courses in Francophone Studies: 'Women and Writing in French-Speaking Africa'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course explores writings by women in French-speaking Africa from its early beginnings in the late 1970s to the present. Special attention will be given to social, political, gender, and aesthetic issues.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: 12 credits in French including two courses at the advanced level, or permission of department chair and instructor.

FREN-341PA Courses in Francophone Studies: 'Paris dans l'Imaginaire Africain'

Spring. Credits: 4

Colonial relations have not only been a contest over land ownership but were also always centered around the question of who has the right to represent whom. This course will examine how, from the fifties and sixties, African students in France have represented France and Paris in their narratives. Readings will include novels and travelogues.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: Two of the following courses: French 215, 219, 225, or 230, or permission of department chair and course instructor.

FREN-341SE Courses in Francophone Studies: 'Topic: Ousmane Sembene: The Work of a Militant Artist'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Born in 1923 in Senegal, the writer/filmmaker Ousmane Sembène is one of the rare witnesses of the three key periods of contemporary African history: the colonial period; the period of struggle for political and economic independence; and the period of effort to eliminate neocolonialism through the rehabilitation of African cultures. This course is entirely devoted to the works of Ousmane Sembène and will explore the key moments of his life, his activism in European leftist organizations, his discovery of writing, and most of all the dominant features of his film work.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225, or FREN-230.

FREN-351 Courses on Women and Gender

These courses explore cultural, literary, and social issues relating to women and gender identities in France and French-speaking countries. Topics may include women's writing, writing about women and men, the status of women, feminist criticism, and

FREN-351WA Courses on Women and Gender: 'Every Secret Thing - Contemporary Women's Autobiographical Narrative'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will examine contemporary autobiographical narratives written by women, with a particular focus on authors whose works include multiple autobiographical texts of various genres: fictional, nonfictional, and semifictional. We will analyze the ways in which these authors present their life stories, especially the traumatic or secret episodes, and the ways in which their works discuss the process of that presentation and of memory itself. Themes that are common to these autobiographical texts include: relationships with family, education, sexuality, class, and love. In addition to literary texts, we will analyze in detail several autobiographical films made by women.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Rivers
Prereq: Take two courses from FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225, FREN-230, or permission of department chair and course instructor.

FREN-361 Courses in Advanced Language Study

These courses investigate the French language, past or present, and refine students' linquistics skills by focusing on nuances of written and spoken expression. Areas of study may include stylistics, translation, phonology, morphology, syntax, rhetoric, and dramatic art.

FREN-370 Advanced Level Seminar

The seminar is intended to challenge students at the highest level. A regular rotation of topics ensures a variety of perspectives across genre and period, encompassing linguistic, literary, theoretical, and cultural issues of French and Francophone studies. Development of critical skills is stressed through classroom discussion and critique of writing projects, drawing on individual student interests and experiences as they relate to the topic of the course.

FREN-370BA Advanced Level Seminar: 'Banned Books'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This seminar will address questions of literary censorship in France in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. We will read literary texts banned at various moments in history, situate the moments of both their publication and censoring in a historical and literary historical context, and attempt to answer the following fundamental questions: who bans what, when and why? We will examine the explicitly political, religious, and/or sexual thematic content of the texts. We will try to establish distinctions between more textual taboos and those which would appear to be universal. We will view banned films as well.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Rivers
Prereq: 12 credits including two courses at the advanced level, or permission of department chair and instructor.

FREN-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.