Course Catalog 2023-2024


FRN 101 Accelerated Beginning French I (5 Credits)

This elementary French course is designed to give students with no previous experience in French the opportunity to acquire the fundamentals of the French language and Francophone culture. It emphasizes communicative proficiency, the development of oral and listening skills, self-expression and cultural insights. Classroom activities incorporate authentic French material and are focused on acquiring competency in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students must complete both FRN 101 and FRN 103 to fulfill the Latin honors distribution requirement for a foreign language. Enrollment limited to 25.

Fall, Spring, Annually

FRN 103 Accelerated Beginning French II (5 Credits)

This second-semester French course allows students to acquire the basic elements of spoken and written French. They learn how to express themselves on a variety of topics and in everyday life situations as they connect to the Francophone world through authentic cultural material and multimedia activities. Students completing the course normally enter FRN 220. Prerequisite: FRN 101 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18. {F}


FRN 120 Intermediate French (4 Credits)

An intermediate language course designed for students with two or three years of high school French. Its main objective is to develop cultural awareness and the ability to speak and write in French through exposure to a variety of media (literary texts, newspaper articles, ads, clips, films, videos). Students completing the course normally enter FRN 220. Enrollment limited to 18. {F}


FRN 220 High Intermediate French (4 Credits)

Review of communicative skills through writing and class discussion. Materials include two movies, a comic book and two novels. Prerequisite: three years of high school French, FRN 103, FRN 120 or equivalent. Students completing the course normally enter FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. {F}

Fall, Spring

FRN 230bl Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Banlieue Lit (4 Credits)

In this course, students study fiction, memoir, slam poetry and hip-hop authored by residents of France’s multi-ethnic suburbs and housing projects, also known as the "banlieues" and "cités". The class examines the question of whether "banlieue" authors can escape various pressures: to become native informants; to write realistic rather than fantastical novels; to leave the “ghetto”; to denounce the sometimes difficult traditions, religions, neighborhoods and family members that have challenged but also molded them. Often seen as spaces of regression and decay, the "banlieues" nevertheless produce vibrant cultural expressions that beg the question: Is the "banlieue" a mere suburb of French cultural life or more like one of its centers? Basis for the major. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Prerequisite: FRN 220 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 230cc Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Culture Clash (4 Credits)

To what degree is being French synonymous with membership in a particular socio economic, cultural or ethnic category? Can marginalized populations (immigrants, peasants, workers, youth, etc.) acquire the necessary tools for social inclusion? What determines the meaning of French identity and who is excluded from the realm of Frenchness? By whom and for what reasons? The course explores the tensions that arise in the development and transmission of French cultural attitudes, tastes and values. Class readings include children’s literature, fiction and memoir. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 230cw Colloquium: Topics in French Studies-French Calligraphies: Contemporary Chinese Women's Writing (4 Credits)

France is home to the largest overseas Chinese community in Western Europe. This course looks at how Francophone women writers and artists of Chinese origin critique and celebrate French culture in their work. Focusing on contemporary fiction, film and graphic art, students consider the role of canonical French literature during the Cultural Revolution, portrayals of Sinophone cultures in France and the relationship between language and stereotype. Through the lens of gendered and multigenerational immigration narratives, students also study such topics as translation, food, sexuality and exile. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Prerequisite: FRN 220. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 230en Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Encountering Nature in the Early Modern World: Flora, Fauna, Empire (4 Credits)

This course examines how writers from the 16th-18th centuries experienced their natural settings. These settings varied widely, encompassing both Europe and the Americas during early phases of colonization. The great variety of flora and fauna in these different locales prompted questions about what nature signified and for whom. How did such factors as gender, religion, ethnicity and social class combine with political influences in each century to cause shifting understandings and representations of the natural world? To explore this question, the class analyzes literary texts in multiple genres alongside illustrations, maps, paintings, historical documents and audiovisual materials. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Alternate Years

FRN 230ga Colloquium in French Studies-From Royal Feasts to Family Dinners: France in the Mirror of Its Gastronomy (4 Credits)

What did nobles and peasants eat in the age of the Sun King? When did restaurants become fashionable in France and why do family dinners last so long? What’s the meaning of "terroir" and what are today’s trendy foods? Through a wide array of literary texts, documents, essays and films, students in this course explore some of the most interesting aspects of how French eating rituals developed from medieval time to the present. Basis for the major. Students may receive credit for only one section of 230. Prerequisite: FRN 220 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18. (E) WI {F}{L}


FRN 230ll Colloquium: Topics in French Studies-French Literary Landscapes (4 Credits)

Through texts by authors from Louis XIV to Colette, this class discusses questions about literary uses of landscape: Why do people flee or search for a landscape? What makes people cherish or fear a particular place? What do landscapes tell readers that the narrator or characters cannot or will not tell? Other authors may include Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand, Maupassant, Apollinaire, Robbe-Grillet and James Sacré. Basis for the major. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Prerequisite: FRN 220. Enrollment limited to 18. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 230ww Colloquium: Topics in French Studies-Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean (4 Credits)

An introduction to works by contemporary women writers from Francophone Africa and the Caribbean. Topics studied include colonialism, exile, motherhood and intersections between class and gender. The study of these works and of the French language is informed by attention to the historical, political and cultural circumstances of writing as a woman in a former French colony. Texts include works by Mariama Bâ, Maryse Condé, Yamina Benguigui and Marie-Célie Agnant. Basis for the major. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Prerequisite: FRN 220. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 235 Speaking (Like the) French: Conversing, Discussing, Debating, Arguing (4 Credits)

A total immersion course in French oral expression using authentic cultural materials: French films and series, songs, video clips, internet resources, news reporting, televised versions of round-table discussions, intellectual exchanges and documentary reporting. Students learn how the French agree and disagree with one another, converse, argue and attempt to persuade each other. Interactive multimedia exercises, games, role playing, discussions and debates, presenting formal exposés and improving pronunciation. Prerequisite: FRN 230, or equivalent. Instructor permission required. Course taught in French. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 250 Zooming With the French: Cross-Cultural Connections (4 Credits)

Using webcam and video conferencing technology, students have conversations in real time with French students in Paris. The class examines youth culture in France and explores fundamental cultural differences between Americans and the French. Topics include cultural attitudes and beliefs, social values and institutions as well as relevant socioeconomic issues. Materials: textbooks, cultural essays, surveys, articles, films and songs. Prerequisite: FRN 230 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 15. Course taught in French. {F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

FRN 251fi Topics in French Media, Now and Then-French Islam and French Muslims (4 Credits)

Through a survey of the contemporary flashpoints in the debate surrounding the place of Islam in French society, this course maps out the field of politicians, activists, youth movements, imams, artists, musicians and other cultural actors that have defined the discourse on the issue. With an emphasis on new media, students analyze a wide variety of documents including internet resources, journalistic articles and blogs, music videos, films, legal texts, political pamphlets, slam poetry, rap songs, as well as photo and video art. Course taught in French. {F}{H}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 251po Topics in the French Media, Now and then- The French Press Online (4 Credits)

A study of contemporary French social, economic, political and cultural issues through daily readings of French magazines and newspapers online such as Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération. Course taught in French. {F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 252cl Topics in French Cinema-Cities of Light: Urban Spaces in Francophone Film (4 Credits)

From Paris to Fort-de-France, Montreal to Dakar, this class studies how various filmmakers from the Francophone world present urban spaces as sites of conflict, solidarity, alienation and self-discovery. How do these portraits confirm or challenge the distinction between urban and non-urban? How does the image of the city shift for “insiders” and “outsiders”? Other topics to be discussed include immigration, colonialism and globalization. Works by Sembène Ousmane, Denys Arcand, Mweze Ngangura and Euzhan Palcy. Course taught in French. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 252ps Topics in French Cinema-Paris on Screen (4 Credits)

Paris is often portrayed by filmmakers as the quintessential romantic setting. Starting with the French New Wave, this course examines films that look at France's capital city differently, as a place where various urban, cosmopolitan or diasporic subcultures live side by side, often unbeknownst to one another. Films by directors such as Truffaut, Godard, Varda, Sautet, Rohmer, Denis, Assayas, and Klapisch. Course taught in French. {A}{F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 253 The Lady, the Knight, the King (4 Credits)

An introduction to the main cultural and literary currents that shaped Medieval France, a period whose values and concept of "literature" were dramatically different from the present. This class focuses on the rise of courtliness and the invention of romantic love, the legend of King Arthur and the transmission of Celtic themes, adultery and madness, magic and the chivalric quest, and the ribald humour of the fabliaux. Readings include The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris, Tristan and Yseut, Marie de France’s Lanval, Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain, troubadour and trouvère lyric and selected fabliaux. Prerequisite: FRN 230. Course taught in French. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 262 After Algeria: Revolution, Republic and Race in Modern France (4 Credits)

From the colonial conquest in the early 19th century through independence in 1962, Algeria has evoked passions on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, passions frequently resulting in violence that has not entirely subsided. Through a variety of perspectives and readings, this class explores a post-Algerian French society that appears to be permanently marked by its Algerian experience. To what extent has the experience in and of Algeria transformed contemporary French culture? In what ways can one speak of the Algerian experience in revolutionary terms? Prerequisite: FRN 230, or equivalent. Course taught in French. {F}{L}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 270 Language and Social Justice (4 Credits)

A course in advanced composition for students who wish to improve their mastery of some of the more difficult points of French grammar, syntax and usage, as they reflect on local and global movements calling for social justice in France from the 18th century to the present day. Readings and discussions on topics such as humanism, revolution, the "social question," feminism, antiracism and inclusive writing. Prerequisite: one course in French studies beyond FRN 230, or equivalent. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 276 Living Landscapes: Past, Present and Future (4 Credits)

In recent decades, as the effects of climate change have become increasingly apparent, landscapes have come to be understood as those places not only that humans inhabit, but also that inhabit humans. This course examines literary and filmic texts that portray, interrogate and imagine the reciprocal relationship between humans and landscapes in contemporary French-speaking locales. Specifically, students consider how this exchange occurs over time by examining depictions of landscapes past, present and future. Course taught in French. (E) {F}{L}

Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 282md Topics in 19th and 20th Century French Studies-From the Personal to the Political: Stories about Moral Dilemmas (4 Credits)

This course is about dilemmas, i.e. moments in life when one has to choose between two valid but mutually exclusive options. It explores how major writers of the 19th and 20th centuries have used moral conflicts in their works to confront what they saw as the most pressing social, political or personal issues of their times. One novel (excerpts), one autofiction, one theater play and one film script provide the class with four different yet complementary venues for examining and debating the moral implications of dilemmas. Works by Hugo, Gide, Camus and Duras. Prerequisite: one course above FRN 230. Course taught in French. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 286 Invisible Minority: Chinese Culture in France (4 Credits)

A reference to the French phrase minorité visible, this course’s title highlights the recurrent critique from East Asians in France that theirs is a forgotten minority group. To understand this critique, the class traces the history of exoticized representations of Chinese culture in France from the 17th century to the present. The class then turns to recent literary works by Chinese diasporic writers to consider how they represent their native cultures for a French audience amidst China’s shift in status on the global stage. Finally, the class examines images of Asian culture in contemporary French media and popular culture. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 288 Immigration and Sexuality in France and Europe (1 Credit)

This course functions as a French discussion course offered in conjunction with SWG 288. Students discuss the assigned texts, which they will read in the original French. Papers and assignments must also be written in French. Corequisite: SWG 288. Prerequisite: One course at or above FRN 250. French heritage speakers should contact the instructor. Enrollment limited to 35. Course taught in French. {F}{H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 295 French Translation in Practice (2 Credits)

Practicum in French; must be taken concurrently with WLT 150. Students read short texts in translation theory, study translation techniques and strategies, compare versions of translated texts and produce their own translations of French texts. Readings and discussions conducted in French. Course taught in French. This course does not count as preparation for the Smith Programs Abroad in Paris and Geneva. Corequisite: WLT 150. Prerequisite: two courses above FRN 230, or equivalent. {F}{L}


FRN 299/ ITL 299/ POR 299/ SPN 299 Teaching Romance Languages: Theories and Techniques on Second Language Acquisition (4 Credits)

Offered as FRN 299, ITL 299, POR 299 and SPN 299. The course explores the issues in world language instruction and research that are essential to the teaching of Romance languages. Special focus will be on understanding local, national and international multilingual communities as well as theories, methods, bilingualism and heritage language studies. Topics include the history of Romance languages, how to teach grammar and vocabulary, the role of instructors and feedback techniques. The critical framing provided will help students look at schools as cultural sites, centers of immigration and globalization. Class observations and scholarly readings help students understand the importance of research in the shaping of the pedagogical practice of world languages. Prerequisite: At least 4 semesters (or placement to equivalent level) of a Romance language taught at Smith (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or French). Enrollment limited to 25. {F}{S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

FRN 320 Women Defamed, Women Defended (4 Credits)

What genres did women practice in the Middle Ages and in what way did they transform those genres for their own purposes? What access did women have to education and to the works of other writers, male and female? To what extent did women writers question the traditional gender roles of their society? How did they represent female characters in their works and what do their statements about authorship reveal about their understanding of themselves as writing women? What do we make of anonymous works written in the feminine voice? Readings include the love letters of Héloïse, the lais and fables of Marie de France, the songs of the trobairitz and women trouvères,and the writings of Christine de Pizan. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 330 Scientific Selves: Medicine, Technology and Identity in Early Modern France (4 Credits)

From the 16th-18th centuries, the Scientific Revolution led to breakthroughs in biology, medicine and technology. This course examines how such breakthroughs informed attitudes toward various aspects of human identity in the French context. How did scientific discourse depict those who did not fit into paradigms of gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, belief and culture? What parallels identify with modern-day activism? To explore these questions, students analyze literary texts, visual representations, medical treatises and scientific diagrams. Students also collaborate with the Botanic Garden to study medicinal plants, interrogate modern day health concerns and create our own wellness tea blends. Prerequisites: Two courses above FRN 230 or equivalent. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

FRN 363 Crossing the Divide: Love, Ambition, and the Exploration of Social Difference (4 Credits)

This course examines famous 19th-century novels where love is used as a narrative and thematic device to explore the meaning and relevance of social difference and mobility. Authors such as Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Stendhal, George Sand, Lamartine and Alexandre Dumas, fils. Readings in relevant historical and cultural topics. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 372 Literature and the News: Writing France in the Age of Print Capitalism (4 Credits)

In nineteenth-century France, the emerging periodical press lay at the epicenter of public and cultural life. This course explores the press from a number of perspectives: the technological breakthroughs and social upheavals that spurred its growth, the major figures and seminal publications that marked its evolution, the debates and scandals sparked by its rise, and the changing roles of hommes and femmes de presse. Readings include articles from major newspapers and magazines, contemporary literary and cultural criticism, and selections from "novels of journalism" by Balzac and Maupassant. Class introduce students to research in online databases of digitized newspapers. (E) {F}{H}{L}

FRN 380af Topics in French Cultural Studies-Les Annees Folles (4 Credits)

We enter "les années folles" in Paris in this advanced culture class, taught in French. During the Roaring Twenties, jazz sizzled, Montmartre shimmied, and Joséphine Baker’s Danse sauvage mesmerized crowds at the Music-Hall des Champs Elysées. Song, literature, dance, poetry, painting, the arts aligned to form an (in)coherent, (inter)national cultural proclamation. How might we interpret this riveting period today? The class will discuss the roles of women, writers, soldiers, African Americans and others in “modern” French society at the end of the Great War. Students will be expected to complete twelve hours of reading and written reflection per week. {F}{H}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 380fa Topics in French Cultural Studies-France in America (4 Credits)

What is l’Amérique française? What is the nature of the French-American relationship, historically and today? During recent Franco-American culture wars, France and the United States seemed to be polar opposites. Yet at one time, people in New England and Louisiana spoke French, lived and laughed in French, cried and died in French. Must French now be translated in America? Through what cultural mechanisms is Frenchness expressed by Americans? In what language(s) does one write French America today? This class answers such questions in the exploration of the French experience of North America from the 16th to the 21st century. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 380is Topics in French Cultural Studies-Immigration and Sexuality (4 Credits)

This course explains how gender and sexuality have been politicized in immigration debates in France, from the 1920s to the present. Students examine both cultural productions and social science texts: memoirs, psychoanalytical literature, activist statements, sociological studies, feature films, fashion, performance art, blogs and news reports. France has historically been the leading European host country for immigrants, a multiplicity of origins reflected in its current demographic make-up. Topics include: the hyper-sexualization of black and brown bodies, France as a Mediterranean culture, immigrant loneliness in Europe, intermarriage and demographic change, the veil and niqab, as well as sexual nationalism and homo-nationalism. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 380tw Topics in French Cultural Studies:Travel Writing and Self-Discovery (4 Credits)

A survey of Francophone travel writing from the 16th to the 21st centuries. Students are exposed to a literary form that achieved popularity and cultural prestige early on, was then significantly challenged and diversified, and is presently enjoying a resurgence. We consider fictional and nonfictional accounts reflecting different geographies of travel and migration. While early voyagers tended to assert the relative superiority of French culture, subsequent generations of travelers abandoned discovery for self-discovery, and critiqued colonialism instead of indigenous cultures. Countries and regions surveyed include the Holy Land, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Central and West Africa, the United States, Iran, France, Indonesia and Thailand. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 385bt Topics in Advanced Studies in Language-Global French: The Language of Business and International Trade (4 Credits)

An overview of commercial and financial terminology against the backdrop of contemporary French business culture, using case studies, French television and newspapers, and the internet. Emphasis on essential technical vocabulary, reading and writing business documents, and oral communication in a business setting. Prerequisite: a 300-level French course, a solid foundation in grammar, and excellent command of everyday vocabulary, or permission of the instructor. {F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 392sc Seminar: Topics in Culture-Stereotypes in French Cinema (4 Credits)

In this seminar, students look at films that make a deliberate and often caricatural use of stereotypes in order to make a statement, whether it is to provoke, examine, question, or simply illustrate some aspects of French culture or national consciousness. The stereotypes students consider include cinematic genres (comedies), as well as themes or topics (tradition versus modernity, ‘Frenchness’, racial and class differences). In doing so, students pay particular attention to the way these stereotypes are staged, what their modes of inquiry are, and what conversations, if any, they promote. Films by Renoir, Tati, Buñuel, Jeunet, Ozon, and Sciamma among others. Weekly or bi-weekly film viewings.  Readings in film criticism and relevant fields. In French. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {A}{F}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FRN 404 Special Studies (4 Credits)

Admission by permission of the department; normally for junior and senior majors and for qualified juniors and seniors from other departments.

Fall, Spring

FRN 430D Honors Project (4 Credits)

This yearlong course totals 8 credits, 4 credits for each semester.

Fall, Spring, Annually

FRN 431 Honors Project (8 Credits)

Fall, Spring, Annually