Course Offerings | French

Division of Humanities

Ken Keffer (chair), Karin Ciholas, Allison Connolly, Patrice Mothion; students: Amanda Bauer, Dan Kamykowski, Brad Vandiver

When the Medici family sought a motto to express their optimism and humanism, they chose "Le Temps Revient," a French expression meaning "The Great Age Returns." Their choice of French was not accidental, for the study of this language offers a royal path to discovering the complexity of human experience from the Oaths of Strasbourg in the ninth century to the present. The French major and minor programs at Centre help students discover the will to be scholar-citizens informed about the literature, art, music, and history of France, curious about international affairs relating to Francophone countries, and desirous of communicating with French-speaking people here and abroad.

Recommended Freshman-Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in French are encouraged to plan their academic program to include as wide a distribution of courses as possible regardless of their professional or vocational objectives. Prospective majors should consider taking courses in literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts.

Requirements for the Major

FRE 210, 220, 260, 270 or 271, or equivalent;
Five FRE courses numbered 300 or higher;

One additional FRE course numbered 250 or higher;
FRE 500.

Note: It is strongly recommended that majors and minors participate in a term abroad in our Centre-in-Europe program in Strasbourg, France, as an integral component of their French studies.

Requirements for the Minor

FRE 210, 220, 260, 270 or 271, or equivalent;
Two FRE courses numbered 300 or higher;

One additional FRE course numbered 250 or higher;

French Courses

FRE 110, 120 Introduction to French Language and Culture-I, II (four credit hours each)
An introduction to French language and culture. FRE 110 references our abroad program in Strasbourg; FRE 120 references the Tour de France bicycle race. Prerequisite: 110 for 120.

FRE 150 Fundamentals-IV
This course is designed for students in Strasbourg who have met the minimum proficiency level in French but have not studied French since entering Centre. The course uses materials comparable to FRE 110 but students are given additional assignments dependent on their individual capabilities.

FRE 210, 220 Intermediate Workshop
A course in simple French emphasizing conversation and treating one or more of the following topics: painting, history, cinema, song, or current events. Prerequisite: FRE 120 or placement.

FRE 260 Joan of Arc
A course tracing the history and civilization of France from its medieval beginnings through the life and legend of Joan of Arc; primary sources from her trials and her portayal in literature, art, music and film; emphasis on French language skills including composition and debate. Prerequisite: FRE 220 or placement.

FRE 270 Napoleon Bonaparte
The life and times of this military figure and statesman introduces students to the upper-level study of France after the Revolution; primary source material and portrayal in literature, art, music and film; emphasis on French language skills including composition and debate. Prerequisite: FRE 220 or placement.

FRE 271 Group Conversation
A course on how three- and more-way conversation works in French; the course explores rules for entry, exit, interruption, confrontation and reconciliation in French group talk; it is based on free audio podcasts from state-owned France-Culture radio; all these conversations include three or more persons speaking and joking about urban life, books, politics, art, philosophy, education, society, tourism and current events. Prerequisite: FRE 220 or equivalent. (FRE 271 counts as equivalent for FRE 270 in preparation for the major or minor).

FRE 251/350 Contemporary French Culture
A systematic study of Modern France and its social institutions. Offered in Strasbourg. Prerequisite: FRE 120 for 251; FRE 210 or placement for 350.

FRE 310 Advanced French Grammar and Stylistics
This course offers a thorough review of basic French grammatical structures as well as an introduction to more sophisticated constructions. Its goal is to improve students' writing by focusing on the use of correct grammar and appropriate vocabulary in compositions, and by studying style using excerpts from some of the most celebrated French writers as examples. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270 or equivalent.

FRE 320 Introduction to French Thought & Art
An introduction to French culture based on three decisive turning points in the development its thought and art: the debate on skepticism and faith in Montaigne and Pascal; the optimism for Enlightenment autonomy in Voltaire and Rousseau; the sexual pessimism and hedonism of late 19th century painting and fiction (Impressionism and Proust). (Also listed as HUM 273.) Course discussion and readings in English; students receiving credit for French 320 write homework and essays in French. Prerequisite: None for HUM 273; FRE 260 or equivalent for FRE 320.

FRE 410 Food for Thought
A study of the different aspects of the French culinary tradition in literature, from Renart's hunger in the Middle Ages to Astérix's banquets. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 420 The
Theme of Love in Film and Literature
Great love stories of the French literary tradition from early Troubadour love songs to New Wave cinema. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 430 The Molière Stage
A course using the rehearsal, design and staging of a major play by Molière (Tartuffe, Le Misanthrope, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme...) as the chief means of exploring classicism in 17th-century France. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 440 Paris in French Literature
Study of the growth and development of the French capital from Lutetia to the City of Lights as reflected in French literature; course includes study of the representation of Paris in art and study of its architecture. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 450
Utopia and the Self
A study of the ways in which French essayists and novelists, from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, have described the relationship between the individual and society; emphasis on the "moralist" writings of Montaigne, Pascal, Rousseau, Chateaubriand, and Proust. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 460 Existentialism and the Quest for Meaning
An exploration of spiritual dilemmas and existential choices in French literature from Pascal to Sart
re. Students writee and present dialogues illustrating existential choices confronting us in the 21st century. Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270.

FRE 461 Advanced Studies: Joan of Arc
his advanced studies course provides an advanced French major the opportunity to intern as an assistant in a lower-level class. The course traces the history and civilization of France from the beginning up through the life of Joan of Arc. Prerequisite: FRE 210, 220, and by invitation of the French program.

FRE 462 Balzac

Arguably, the two greatest French writers of the 19 th century are Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac. This course focuses on the latter's impact on French literature. From the study of Balzac's first novel and some of his most celebrated short stories, students are able to understand how a new genre in French literature (Realism) came into prominence in the first half of the 19 th century. Students learn how to appreciate the richness of Balzac's style as well as the depth of his imagination. Finally, his influence on other writers (Flaubert, for example) or movements (Naturalism) is also investigated. Prerequisite: FRE 270.

FRE 470 Impressionism and Nature
A course treating the representation of the natural and built worlds in the movement called Impressionism . Emphasis is on discussion in French of how water, sunlight, and gardens shape the painting, literature, and music in the works of Edouard Monet, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Marcel Proust, and Claude Debussy. The course includes a painting “campaign” on the trials at Shakertown, a garden project and a group visit to the Art Institute in Chicago . Prerequisite: FRE 260 or 270 or permission of the instructor.

FRE 500 Senior Seminar (one credit hour)
Weekly meetings with French program faculty for discussion of topics of mutual interest between faculty and senios. Offered on a pass/unsatisfactory basis only. Prerequisite: Senior French major.

Special Topics Offered 200

FRE 255/455 Vive la Bretagne!
Long live Brittany ! In this course, students learn everything there is to know on this Celtic region of western France . Was Conan really a Barbarian? (answer: no, Conan was one of the Dukes of independent Brittany ). Where did Merlin live? (answer: in the "forêt de Brocéliande" in central Brittany ). Who is Alan Stivell? (answer: the singer/modern bard at the origin of the Celtic cultural revival of the past 40 years). Brittany has lots to offer: from Celtic mythology and history to gastronomy (crêpes!), art (the school of Pont-Aven ), literature (Chateaubriand, Verne), pottery ( Quimper ), architecture (those famous lighthouses), music (Breton rock? Breton rap?), dance (Fesnoz), sports (cycling and sailing) and of course the Breton language (Degemer mat! Bevet Breizh!), this course deals with all the cultural aspects that make Breton people proud. Prerequisite: FRE 210 for 255 and FRE 260 for 455.

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