Ann T. Delehanty
Early modern prose, classical theatre, medieval literature, philosophy and literature.
Hugh M. Hochman
Twentieth-century French poetry and prose, theories of the lyric, philosophy of language. On sabbatical 2013–14.
Luc A. Monnin
Eighteenth-century French literature and culture, history and theory of language, history of ideas, computer theory, visual arts.
Twentieth-century Francophone literature, Caribbean literature and performance, interart aesthetics, theories of translation, new media and digital writing.
Francophone literature, written and oral African literature, postcolonial studies, constructions of tradition and modernity, Wolof language.
Catherine A. Witt
Nineteenth-century literature, art and history, contemporary poetry, theatre, cinema.
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.
French 332 - Early Modern French Literature and Culture
The Early Modern Novel
Full course for one semester. This course will examine the rise of the novel in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will ask what differentiates the novel from other narrative forms and seek to determine how novelistic (or proto-novelistic) forms differ from other early modern texts. We will also seek to discern whether the novel offered a forum for social subversion in a way that other literary forms did not. We will ask whether these writers experiment with literary form, narration, and character in order to put social norms into question. The reading list will include Rabelais’ Gargantua, Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron, Cyrano de Bergerac’s Les États et empires de la lune, Scarron’s Roman comique, and Mme de La Fayette’s Zaïde. Discussion in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or equivalent. Conference.
Not offered 2013—14.
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.
Not offered 2013—14.
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.
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.
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 2013—14.
French 343 - Contemporary 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.
Not offered 2013—14.
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 2013—14.
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.
French 363 - Francophone Literature
Full course for one semester. From the nuclear testing on the Bikini Islands to the 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake, disaster is a preeminent feature of islands in our contemporary imagination. And yet, as the Guadeloupean writer Daniel Maximin asserts, writers from these islands focus on modes of continuity and survival rather than apocalyptic scenarios. In this course, we will read fiction, theatrical works, and poetry that represent experiences of disaster including cultural loss and exile in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and French Polynesia in texts such as Patrick Chamoiseau’s Solibo Magnifique and Shenaz Patel’s Le Silence des Chagos. We will also consider manmade and natural disaster in works such as Édouard Glissant’s poetic philosophy, Daniel Maximin’s L`Île et une nuit, and Frankétienne’s recent play about politics and disaster in Haiti, Mélovivi ou Le piège. Throughout the course, we will be concerned with the literary inventiveness of these writers, particularly their use of linguistic creolization and their representation of trauma and the sublime. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
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 the typographical experimentations of Mallarmé. Through reading a combination of canonical works (by poets of the romantic, Parnassian, and symbolist schools) and popular poetry, students will identify and reflect upon the rhetorical and prosodic innovations that upturned the idea of lyricism in the modern period. Topics include popular culture, the relation between the arts, hermeticism, irony, and modernity. Conducted in French. Prerequisite: French 210 or demonstration of equivalent ability by placement exam. Conference.
Not offered 2013—14.
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.
Not offered 2013—14.
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.
French 400 - Introduction to Literary Theory: French
See Literature 400 for description.
Not offered 2013—14.
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.
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.