French and Francophone Studies

General Information

The Department of French and Francophone Studies sees language as fundamental to the study of literatures and cultures. Committed to helping students attain proficiency in the language sequence (FREN 101-204), the Department strives at all levels to introduce students to the rich and complex endeavors of literary and cultural analysis. Carleton's study abroad programs in Paris provides opportunities for using and enhancing these skills in situ, broadening horizons while also training students in one of the world's major languages. Our courses in literary and cultural studies are appropriate for students wishing to do advanced work in French or who hope to use French language and important critical skills in future careers or studies.

Language Courses

Language courses 101, 102, 103, 204 are a sequential series of courses designed to prepare students in the basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) through the study of grammar, literature, and culture, and/or to provide the foundation for pursuing advanced work in language and literature. French 206 and 309 are designed to develop the students' spoken and written mastery of the language through compositions and intensive oral work based on cultural and literary topics. Admission to these courses is determined either by appropriate high school CEEB or Carleton placement test scores, or by completion of the previous course in the sequence with a grade of C- or better.

French and Francophone Studies Courses

Most courses in the department address both literary and cultural questions, stressing a number of goals: to refine and expand students' linguistic ability, to broaden their cultural understanding, to improve their ability to engage in literary and cultural analysis, to enhance their knowledge of French and Francophone history and literary criticism, and to help students better understand themselves and the human condition. In our discussions, we address universal themes and concerns, but we also try to uncover what is peculiarly French or Francophone about the works.

Requirements for the French and Francophone Studies Major

The major consists of intensive work in language, literature, and culture, and it may include courses in film or other arts. All courses in the Department of French and Francophone Studies are conducted in French.

Sixty-nine credits beyond French 103 including:

1. Core courses: FREN 309 (preferably taken in the sophomore or junior year); and LCST 245  (Critical Toolbox, usually taken in the junior year). HIST 298, (Junior Year History Colloquium) or ENGL 295 (Critical Methods) may be substituted for LCST 245.

2. Fifty-four credits in departmental or other electives. Students should generally begin with courses at the 200 level (FREN 204, 206, 208, 230-259), but at least twenty-four credits (in addition to FREN 309) must be taken at the 300 level (400 does not count in this category). Up to twelve credits may be taken in other departments or programs (see pre-approved courses under the concentration in French and Francophone Studies).

All courses on the Paris program may be applied to this category, as long as the requisite number of 300-level credits is attained.

3.  Integrative Exercise (3 credits): During their senior year, students will expand and deepen an essay in French from one of their advanced courses in the major. Normally, but not always, the director for this project will be the professor from that course. This essay may be completed during any term, but must be finished by the end of winter term. In the spring term, students will deliver an oral presentation (in English) of their work.

Senior students may choose one of the following:

  • Option One: A substantial individual essay
  • Option Two: An individual essay that complements work done in a second major (subject to approval by the Department)
  • Option Three: Creation of a group multidisciplinary project (such as those organized by Global Engagement), subject to approval by the Department

Further details about these options are available on the Department's website.


Concentration See separate section for French and Francophone Studies Concentration.

Programs Abroad Participation in a Carleton or in another approved foreign study program is highly recommended for students majoring or concentrating in the above areas. The department operates a program in Paris, but non-Carleton programs are also available in France and Francophone Africa. Students interested in study abroad should consult the section on international off-campus programs, and discuss alternatives with faculty in French and with the Director of Off-Campus Studies.

Certificate of Advanced Study in Foreign Language and Literature In order to receive the Certificate of Advanced Study in French, students must fulfill the general requirements (refer to Academic Regulations) in the following course distribution: 36 credits completed with a grade of C- or better in French beyond 103, including at least two upper-level literature courses (300-395). Although courses for the certificate may be taken on a S/CR/NC basis, "CR" level work will not be sufficient to satisfy course requirements. No more than 12 credits from non-Carleton off-campus studies programs may be applied toward the certificate.

Parish International House: Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language by living in Parish. Students organize and participate in numerous cultural activities in Parish International House, with the help of the French Language Associate who is a native speaker.

French and Francophone Studies Courses

FREN 101 Elementary French This course introduces the basic structures of the French language and everyday vocabulary in the context of common cultural situations. Students are exposed to all four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Taught five days a week in French. Prerequisite: None. Placement score for students with previous experience in French. 6 credits; NE; Fall; C. Shearer, S. Cox, C. Lac
FREN 102 Elementary French Building on the material covered in French 101, this course introduces complex sentences and additional verb tenses. Students apply the tools of narration in context through the reading of short literary and cultural texts. The focus of the course is on all four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Taught five days a week in French. Prerequisite: French 101 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Winter; C. Keïta, C. Lac
FREN 103 Intermediate French This course continues the study of complex sentence structures and reviews basic patterns in greater depth, partly through the discussion of authentic short stories and cultural topics. Throughout the course, students practice all four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Taught five days a week in French. Prerequisite: French 102 or equivalent. 6 credits; NE; Fall, Spring; S. Cox, S. Rousseau, C. Keïta
FREN 204 Intermediate French Through discussion of book-length literary and cultural texts (film, etc.), and including in-depth grammar review, this course aims to help students acquire greater skill and confidence in both oral and written expression. Taught three days a week in French. Prerequisite: French 103 or equivalent. 6 credits; Fall, Winter; S. Rousseau, É. Pósfay, C. Keïta
FREN 206 Contemporary Francophone Culture This course aims to improve knowledge of France and the Francophone world and written and oral expression. Through an analysis of texts written by novelist and sociologist Azouz Begag, journalist Françoise Laborde and novelist Maryse Condé, we will discuss various aspects of national, racial and family identity in France. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter; C. Keïta
FREN 208 Paris Program: Contemporary France: Cultures, Politics, Society This course seeks to deepen students' knowledge of contemporary French culture through a pluridisciplinary approach, using multimedia (books, newspaper and magazine articles, videos, etc.) to generate discussion. It will also promote the practice of both oral and written French through exercises, debates, and oral presentations. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; HI, IS; Spring; É. Pósfay
FREN 210 Coffee and News Keep up your French while learning about current issues in France, as well as world issues from a French perspective. Class meets once a week for an hour. Requirements include reading specific sections of leading French newspapers, (Le Monde, Libération, etc.) on the internet, and then meeting once a week to exchange ideas over coffee with a small group of students. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 2 credits; S/CR/NC; HI, IS; Fall, Winter, Spring; C. Keïta, C. Yandell
FREN 225 Francophone Literature of Africa and the Caribbean Reading and discussion of literary works of different kinds: Oral epics and songs, novels and films dealing with social, historical and political issues such as French Colonialism, independence, urbanization and class conflicts in Africa and the Caribbean. In English translation. Not offered 2016-17
FREN 233 French Cinema and Culture Incorporating the tools of film analysis, this course focuses on such questions as controversial historical moments, postcolonial culture, immigration, gender/ genre, and contemporary French society. It also attempts to answer the following questions: how does French cinema reflect, contradict, or create cultural norms? What in a particular historical moment incites the production of a particular film and catapults it to fame? In what ways does film provide another medium through which to “read” French culture? Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Fall; C. Yandell
FREN 238 French Classics Reimagined What if Little Red Riding Hood wore a red burqa? And if Eurydice willingly relocated to the Underworld to join her cancan-crazed lover Pluto? In this course, we will explore bold and inventive acts of rewriting the French classics in a wide assortment of contexts. To do so, we will immerse ourselves in the often irreverent world of literary, musical, comic strip, and film retellings, adaptations, sequels, and spin-offs. Works by Perrault, Molière, Baudelaire, Offenbach, Camus, Ben Jelloun, Daoud, Prévert, Truffaut, and more. Songs from the cabaret era to raï. Special emphasis on developing analytical and communicative skills. In French. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 239 Banned Books Recent events in France have highlighted the issues of free speech and religious intolerance, among other cultural questions. Some of the most fascinating and now canonized works in French and Francophone literature were once banned because they called into question the political, religious, or moral sensibilities of the day. Even now, books deemed to be subversive are routinely censored in certain Francophone cultures. Through readings of such writers as Rabelais, Voltaire, Sade, Camus, Franz Fanon, Assia Djebar, and Hergé (Tintin), as well as contemporary articles from Charlie Hebdo, we will explore the crucial role of forbidden works in their cultural contexts. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 241 The Lyric and Other Seductions French lyric poetry occupies a privileged position in the literary landscape of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, it also shares a common heritage with less literary siblings, such as popular music and even advertising. Starting with the study of such poets as Lamartine, Desbordes-Valmore, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Valéry, and Bonnefoy, we will also investigate poetic techniques in popular songs and contemporary ads. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter; S. Carpenter
FREN 242 Journeys of Self-Discovery What initiates the process of self-discovery? How does one's environment nurture or hinder this journey? What are the repercussions of being introspective? How do new discoveries about the self inform life choices? Such questions will animate this survey course, which proposes to examine a variety of paths towards self-knowledge through the prism of French and Francophone literature, music, and the visual arts. From ravishing fairy tale fugitives and intrepid travelers to lucid prisoners and uprooted exiles, we will explore the richly diverse literary landscape of the French-speaking world with special attention given to developing analytical and communicative skills. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 243 Cultural Reading of Food "Tell me what you eat, I will tell you who you are." Brillat-Savarin. Through the thematic lens of food, we will study enduring and variable characteristics of French society and compare it to American and other societies when appropriate. We will analyze various cultural texts and artifacts (fiction, non-fiction, print, film, and objects) from medieval times to the present with a pinch of theory and a dash of statistics. Course may be repeated if the topic is different. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; HI, QRE; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 244 Contemporary France and Humor This class is an overview of France's social, cultural, and political history from 1939 onwards. The core units of this class (WWII, decolonization, May 1968, the Women's liberation movement, the rise of the National Front, globalization, and immigration) will be studied through their comic representations. Sources for this class will include historical, political, literary and journalistic texts as well as photographs, paintings, videos, blogs, and music. The contrast between comical and non-comical texts and objects will highlight the uses and functions of humor in communicating about history, and illustrate the impact of comic discourses in everyday culture. In French. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 245 Francophone Literature of Africa and the Caribbean Reading and discussion of literary works, with analysis of social, historical and political issues. Prerequisite: French 204 or the equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; C. Keïta
FREN 249 Paris Program: Hybrid Paris Through literature, cultural texts, and experiential learning in the city, this course will explore the development of both the "Frenchness" and the hybridity that constitute contemporary Paris. Immigrant cultures, notably Moroccan, will also be highlighted. Plays, music, and visits to cultural sites will complement the readings. Prerequisite: French 204 or equivalent. 6 credits; IS, LA; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 254 Paris Program: French Art in Context Home of some of the finest and best known museums in the world, Paris has long been recognized as a center for artistic activity. Students will have the opportunity to study art from various periods on site, including Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. In-class lectures and discussions will be complemented by guided visits to the unparalleled collections of the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, local art galleries, and other appropriate destinations. Special attention will be paid to the program theme. Prerequisite: French 204 or the equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; É. Pósfay
FREN 255 Islam in France: Historical Approaches and Current Debates In this course, students will explore the historical, cultural, social, and religious traces of Islam as they have been woven over time into the modern fabric of French society. Through images drawn from film, photography, television, and museum displays, they will discover the important role this cultural contact zone has played in the French experience. The course will take advantage of the resources of the city of Paris and will include excursions to museums as well as cultural and religious centers. Prerequisite: French 204 or the equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; É. Pósfay
FREN 259 Paris Program: Hybrid Paris Through literature, cultural texts, and experiential learning in the city, this course will explore the development of both the "Frenchness" and the hybridity that constitute contemporary Paris. Immigrant cultures, notably North African, will also be highlighted. Plays, music, and visits to cultural sites will complement the readings. Prerequisite: French 204 or the equivalent. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; É. Pósfay
FREN 308 France and the African Imagination This course will look at the presence of France and its capital Paris in the imaginary landscape of a number of prominent African writers, filmmakers and musicians such as Bernard Dadié (Côte d' Ivoire), Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Calixthe Beyala (Cameroun), Alain Mabanckou (Congo-Brazzaville), Salif Keïta (Mali) and others. The history of Franco-African relations will be used as a background for our analysis of these works. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 309 Communication and Stylistics Learn what language can do for you when you use techniques that express ideas with clarity, convince readers and listeners, and create a sense of style. Beyond basic grammar, you will work on various strategies to enliven your writing and speaking and to communicate more effectively with a given audience. Sample projects in the course may include translations, subtitling, blogging, academic and creative writing, and formal oral presentations. Required for the major in French and Francophone Studies, and recommended for all advanced students. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or permission of instructor. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; C. Lac
FREN 340 Arts of Brevity: Short Fiction The rise of newspapers and magazines in the nineteenth century promotes a variety of short genres that will remain popular to the present day: short stories, prose poetry, vignettes, theatrical scenes. In this short course (first five weeks of the term) we'll study short works by such authors as Diderot, Sand, Balzac, Mérimée, Flaubert, Allais, Tardieu, Le Clézio. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 3 credits; LA, IS; Fall; S. Carpenter
FREN 341 Madame Bovary and Her Avatars Decried as scandalous, heralded as the first "modern" novel, Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (published in 1857) sparked debate, spawned both detractors and followers, and became a permanent fixture in French culture and even the French language. In this five-week course we will read the novel, study its cultural context and impact, and see how it has been variously re-interpreted in film and other media. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 3 credits; LA, IS; Fall; S. Carpenter
FREN 349 Paris Program: Hybrid Paris Through literature, cultural texts, and experiential learning in the city, this course will explore the development of both the "Frenchness" and the hybridity that constitute contemporary Paris. Immigrant cultures, notably Moroccan, will also be highlighted. Plays, music, and visits to cultural sites will complement the readings. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; IS, LA; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 351 Love, War and Monsters in Renaissance France The French Renaissance continues to intrigue students and critics by its propensity for paradox, ambiguity, and contradiction. Just as literature and the arts reached new levels of aesthetic achievement, the bloodiest civil war in French history was taking shape. Lyric poetry, bawdy tales, essays and chronicles depict beautiful bodies and monsters, war and peace, hatred and love. Through such authors as Rabelais, Marguerite de Navarre, Ronsard, Louise Labé and Montaigne, as well as artistic and musical works, we will investigate the multiple worlds of French Renaissance culture. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS; Winter; C. Yandell
FREN 356 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century France From the libertine novels of the Marquis de Sade to the decadent tales of Rachilde, the figure of the prostitute pervades French art and literature of the nineteenth-century. We find her various avatars (including the "grisette" and the "courtisane") in works by Balzac, Sand, Mérimée, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Dumas, Zola--not to mention in the art of Manet and others. In this class we'll investigate why these representations rise to prominence--and what they mean. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 359 Paris Program: Hybrid Paris Through literature, cultural texts, and experiential learning in the city, this course will explore the development of both the "Frenchness" and the hybridity that constitute contemporary Paris. Immigrant cultures, notably North African, will also be highlighted. Plays, music, and visits to cultural sites will complement the readings. Prerequisite: French 230 or beyond or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS; Spring; É. Pósfay
FREN 360 The Algerian War of Liberation and Its Representations Over fifty years after Algeria's independence from France, discourses and representations about the cause, the violence, and the political and social consequences of that conflict still animate public life in both France and Algeria. This class aims at presenting the Algerian war through its various representations. Starting with discussions about the origins of French colonialism in North Africa, it will develop into an analysis of the war of liberation and the ways it has been recorded in history books, pop culture, and canonical texts. We will reflect on the conflict and on its meanings in the twenty-first century, and analyze how different media become memorial artifacts. Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS; Not offered 2016-17
FREN 395 Middle East and French Connection PersepolisSyngue SabourLe rocher de Tanios—three prize-wining texts written in French by authors whose native tongue was not French but Arabic or Farsi. In this class we will direct our attention to the close—albeit problematic—relations between France and the Middle East (broadly-considered) through an analysis of cultural and literary objects. What has this “French connection” meant for the Middle-Eastern and for French culture? Prerequisite: One French course beyond French 204 or instructor permission. 6 credits; LA, IS, WR2; Spring; S. Rousseau
FREN 400 Integrative Exercise During their senior year students will expand and deepen an essay in French from one of their advanced courses in the major. The director for this project will usually be the professor from that course. This essay may be completed during any term, but must be finished by the end of winter term. In the spring term, students will deliver an oral presentation (in English) of their work. Senior students may choose one of the following: Option One: A substantial individual essay. Option Two: A individual essay that complements work done in a second major (subject to approval by the Department). Option Three: Creation of a group multidisciplinary project (such as those organized by Global Engagement), subject to approval by the Department. Further details about these options are available on the Department's website. 3 credits; S/NC; Fall, Winter, Spring