Ann T. Delehanty
Early modern prose, classical theatre, medieval literature, philosophy and literature. On sabbatical 2014–15.
Hugh M. Hochman
Twentieth-century French poetry and prose, theories of the lyric, philosophy of language.
Luc A. Monnin
Eighteenth-century French literature and culture, history and theory of language, history of ideas, visual arts.
Twentieth-century Francophone literature, Caribbean literature and performance, interart aesthetics, postcolonial theory, new media and digital writing.
Catherine A. Witt
Nineteenth-century literature, art and history, contemporary poetry, theatre, cinema.
Daniel J. Worden
Early modern prose fiction, (neo-)baroque aesthetics, the early Enlightenment, science fiction studies, ecocriticism.
Students majoring in French focus on acquiring both a critical appreciation of French literature and the ability to express themselves in the spoken and written language. In keeping with Reed’s general educational goals, students are expected to broaden their preparation by pursuing work in humanities, other literatures, and the fine arts.
The members of the French department cover a wide range of literary interests and critical attitudes. The course offerings, organized mostly by genre, cover the important periods and movements in French literature.
In addition to the general course offerings, the department offers seminars on special topics and can arrange independent studies. Recent seminar topics have included contemporary French narrative, French feminist theory, surrealism in literature and the other arts, Rousseau, Balzac, Flaubert, Baudelaire, and history and French cinema.
Most classes range in size from 10 to 15 students and are conducted primarily in French.
Any student who wishes to enroll in a French course at any level and who has not studied French at Reed College must take the placement examination given every year during orientation. Entering students who place out of second-year language (French 210) will be advised to enroll in French 320 or another 300-level course with consent of the instructor.
Students who wish to major in French and who do not have prior experience in the language can pursue the major by completing French 110 and 210 during their first two years at Reed, or elsewhere. During their last two years they must complete all the course requirements for the major listed below.
Students wishing to fulfill the Division of Literature and Languages requirement for third-year study in a foreign literature can do so by both showing proficiency at the level of French 210 and then completing two 300-level courses numbered higher than French 320.
The French House on campus functions not only as a residence hall, but also as the center for a variety of extracurricular activities, including film evenings and social and cultural events, as well as gatherings with students and faculty from the entire Reed College community.
Each year, Reed hosts two visiting language scholars from France. They provide contact with a native speaker and assist the department in academic and cultural matters.
The French department encourages its majors to spend some time abroad, and to that end it has instituted exchange programs in France with the Université de Rennes II and several campuses of the Université de Paris. The work a student completes abroad in these approved programs is credited toward the Reed degree, and students on financial aid may apply their aid toward the costs.
Requirements for the Major
- A minimum of six units in literature at the 300 and 400 level, at least two of which must be prior to the nineteenth century.
- Ability to write French at the equivalent of French 320.
- French 470.
Recommended but not required:
- French 320 is strongly advised.
- Humanities 210 and/or 220.
French 110 - First-Year French
Full course for one year. A study of elements of grammar, speaking, and reading. Conference.
French 210 - Second-Year French
Full course for one year. Revision of grammar and elementary composition; readings in philosophy, lyric poetry, novel, and theatre. Prerequisite: French 110 or equivalent. Conference.
French 320 - Stylistics and Composition
Full course for one year. This course is designed to help students develop strong written and oral skills in French and to familiarize them with the critical uses of a rhetorical vocabulary. Through frequent discussions of regular writing and close-reading assignments we will explore ways to frame a wide range of questions pertaining to French literature from the Middle Ages to the contemporary Francophone novel. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference. Fulfills the Group D requirement.
French 331 - French Literature and Culture of the Middle Ages
Full course for one semester. From bird-men to werewolves, from crumbling political and social structures to farcical judicial proceedings, this course explores several eleventh- to fifteenth-century literary works that stage a “culture clash” of one kind or another. Through formal analysis and close reading of works from several different genres (including the chanson de geste, the lai, the romance, the farce, and the fabliau), we will be particularly interested in how the figuring of discord might suggest certain paradigm shifts in the period. We will ask how these works navigate, for example, questions of cultural or gender difference, changing social structure, or the waning of different institutions. Works will include The Chanson de Roland, the Lais of Marie de France, a romance of Chrétien de Troyes, La Mort du roi Arthur, La Farce de Maistre Pathelin, and several other short works. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 332 - Early Modern French Literature and Culture
Illusion and Error from the Baroque to the Early Enlightenment
Full course for one semester. Is existence on earth really anything more than a dream, nightmare, simulation or masquerade? Who is ultimately responsible for the endless mistakes, follies, and delusions that seem to govern our mortal destiny? Such questions haunted writers’ imaginations in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In this course, we will examine how concerns like these inflected representations of illusion and error in early modern literature. We will explore how writers trusted or condemned the vagaries of human perception. Primary texts will include Montaigne’s Essais, Corneille’s L’Illusion comique, Rotrou’s Le Véritable Saint Genest, Racine’s Phèdre, and Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
French 333 - The French Enlightenment
Full course for one semester. This course examines the literature of eighteenth-century France, with emphasis on the cultural milieu (social, artistic, religious, philosophical, political) in which the texts appeared. We will examine the emergence of the ideology of reason as it is thematized in texts by Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, D’Alembert, Condillac, Rousseau, and Condorcet. We will look at key notions that define the Enlightenment and ask how new literary forms shape, promote, or question these ideas. We will also examine forms of popular culture that the scientific and philosophical agenda keeps in the shadows and demonizes as superstition, imagination, or foolishness. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement examination. Conference.
French 334 - Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Culture
Full course for one semester. This course centers on the notion of l’imaginaire fantastique and looks at the peculiar fascination with the supernatural and the uncanny that permeates nineteenth-century French literature and art. We will not only read a selection of short stories, poems, and essays of the period, but also consider a variety of contemporary media (painting, photography, and early cinema) with an eye to understanding how the supernatural was conceived and recaptured and what new problems of representation and formal experimentations came in its wake. Authors studied include major French writers and poets, such as Nodier, Mérimée, Gautier, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Villiers de L’Isle Adam, and Maupassant, as well as influential “theorists” of the uncanny, such as E.T.A. Hoffmann, Poe, Marx, Freud, Caillois, Todorov, and Derrida. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 341 - French Narrative and the Novel Prior to RealismFull course for one semester. An examination of the novel and other narrative forms that developed in France from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. The course will focus on the function of these new narrative forms within their social and historical contexts, with special emphasis on the institutionalized forms of public discourse that developed during the period and the various theories of representation upon which they drew. Authors covered will include Mme de La Fayette, Laclos, Rousseau, Balzac, and Flaubert. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 342 - Novel from Flaubert to the New Novel: The Collapse of Realism and the Undoing of the Subject
Full course for one semester. The theory and decline of realism in the French novel will be discussed in Flaubert, Proust, Sartre, Robbe-Grillet, and Sarraute. Focusing primarily on the evolution in narrative form from 1850 to 1960, this course will examine the shift in the modern novel from representing social structures or systems objectively to evoking subjectivity and provoking more complex reader-text transactions. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 343 - Late Twentieth-Century French Fiction
Full course for one semester. This course will examine narrative strategies since the late 1950s and their underlying aesthetic theories. The course will focus on several issues or problems, including the autonomy of the literary text, narrative as a space of encounter between objective reality and the creative imagination, and the construction of the subject through autofiction. How do the formal aspects of prose fiction place into question our experience of the self and the world? To what extent are the self and the world disclosed through narrative, and what is the nature of this process? Readings will include Robbe-Grillet, Perec, Duras, Hébert, Barthes, Modiano, Ernaux, and Condé. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
French 351 - Seventeenth-Century French Drama
Full course for one semester. In this course, we will examine several plays by Corneille, Racine, and Molière. We will focus on how authority is established in a society where all authority is in question. We will look at the theatrical representation of kings, sultans, courtiers, nobles, doctors, servants, martyrs, and others in order to consider the various sources of power, authority, and sagacity in a political climate where dissimulation, spectacle, and divertissement often got you further than more traditional means. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 362 - Francophone African Studies
Full course for one semester. In this course we will study representations of Africa from the specific perspective of Francophone literary studies. We will begin by examining how the continent has been defined as an object of knowledge, first by the “colonial library” (Mudimbe) and then by its challengers, such as the movements of Negritude and Pan-Africanism. We will then turn to the political history of the continent, including the disappointments of independence, various forms of neocolonialism, and current discourses of development. Our overarching objective will be to illuminate the challenges faced by the continent today. We will make use of cinema, pop culture, and postcolonial theory in order to broaden our perspective. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 363 - Francophone Literature
Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to the intellectual, cultural, and literary history of the Caribbean region and an engagement with its literary production. Given the Caribbean region’s historical and cultural context, we will examine what kinds of questions and research projects we can undertake when reading across and/or within the boundaries of national languages. We will take up key terms that have emerged from or have been useful to theorizing the Caribbean, such as creolization, hybridity, and transculturation, primarily through individual student presentations on contemporary Caribbean literary and cultural criticism. We will read Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone literary works and situate each text in its context in terms of culture, literary history, and political history. We will also study various approaches to comparative methodology throughout the course in order to prepare students for a final research project. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference. Cross-listed as English 370.
French 371 - Nineteenth-Century French Poetry and Poetics
Full course for one semester. This course explores the emergence of a new poetic representation of the self in the nineteenth century and follows its development from the contemplative verses of Lamartine to Mallarmé’s experimentations in spatial poetry. Through reading a combination of canonical and lesser-known lyric compositions and essays by poets of the romantic, Parnassian, and symbolist schools, students will identify and reflect upon the rhetorical and prosodic innovations as well as the shifting conceptions of the lyric self that upturned the idea and practice of lyricism in the modern period. Topics discussed include theories of the lyric, the gendering of poetry, the relation between the arts, art for art’s sake, hermeticism, translation, irony, and modernity. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
French 381 - Twentieth-Century French Poetry and Poetics
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on poets since Mallarmé and the theoretical, aesthetic, and ethical projects of poetry in the context of modernity. Poets covered will include Apollinaire, Reverdy, Desnos, Eluard, Ponge, Bonnefoy, Guillevic, Réda, and Roubaud. The course will rely on close rhetorical readings in order to found an understanding of lyric poetry in the modern age, focusing on address, theories of performative language, relationships between figurative and literal language, and the materialism-textualism debate. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
French 382 - Twentieth-Century French Theater
Full course for one semester. This course explores a wide spectrum of experimental and theoretical avenues in twentieth-century French theater. Taking the notion of interprétation as a point of departure, we will examine the various intersections between modern theories of dramaturgy, acting, and stage production with a view to opening up the theatrical space to new modalities of reading. Authors studied include playwrights (Jarry, Apollinaire, Anouilh, Sartre, Beckett, Ionesco, Césaire, Genet, Koltès, and Novarina) and major theoreticians of avant-garde theater (Artaud, Brecht, Dort, Sartre, Brooks, Mnouchkine, et al.). In counterpoint to the study of these authors, the course will also discuss the demise of the very notions of “author” and “spectacle” and its impact on theatrical creation in the aftermath of mai 68. Class activities include close reading, discussion, video footage analysis, and a performance. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
French 391 - French Literature and Cultural StudiesFull course for one semester. This course examines the impacts of empire on the French Republic, focusing on the transformations of the nation after World War II. We will concentrate on two flashpoints: the “Algerian question” that marked the 1950s and 1960s, and the representation of late twentieth/early twenty-first-century immigration resulting from France’s colonial entanglements. We will have the opportunity to examine whether the rallying cry of Anglophone postcolonialism, “We are here because you were there,” is applicable in the Francophone context as we discuss the particularities of global French, the legacies of empire, and the place of ethnic difference within the French nation. The objects of analysis in this course will include literary works of fiction alongside film, music (both lyrics and music videos), and journalistic pieces commenting on then-current events. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 400 - Introduction to Literary Theory: French
See Literature 400 for description.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 451 - Special Topics in French Literature
France Writing America
Full course for one semester. From the Renaissance on, Europe has conceived of America both as a mirror refracting its own image and as its final frontier. Along with the discoveries and inventions that made traveling easier and brought the stars closer, varieties of thought and writing about America expanded Europe’s horizons. Working with essays, works of fiction, poems, and theoretical texts, we will examine how the French constituted America as the site of desire and how the work of defining America helped French writers to critique the Old World’s institutions, mores, aesthetics, and culture. Reading authors from the sixteenth century to the present (including Montaigne, Diderot, Chateaubriand, Tocqueville, Deleuze, and Baudrillard), we will see how “writing America” also deeply changed the French language and redefined literary practices. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2014-15.
French 470 - Thesis
One-half or full course for one semester or one year.
French 481 - Independent Reading
One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by examination; approval of instructor and division.