French

Undergraduate

Develop a broad and varied acquaintance with French and Francophone cultures and literature.

Program Overview

Language is a key to unlocking new and different cultures and the French program makes available to students the textual, oral, and visual products of the French-speaking world. It also offers familiarity with the interdisciplinary exchanges—art, literature, history, politics, music, philosophy—that inform French studies today.

Graduates of Mount Holyoke who have majored in French have used the language and analytical skills acquired during their studies to pursue a wide range of career options, from education, government service, and law to international banking, publishing, and marketing.

About our courses

We offer courses at elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels; all are conducted in French. Elementary courses focus on understanding, speaking, reading, and writing French, and intermediate courses review grammar while introducing students to French and Francophone literature and culture. In order to take your first French course at Mount Holyoke, at any level, you will need to take a French placement exam.

In language courses, you will work with native French and Francophone assistants in small supplementary conversation groups. Technological resources—Web-based and computer-assisted applications, videoconferencing, iMovie, and various multimedia tools—are used in courses at all levels to foster individual learning and to promote communication with the international community.

First-year seminars are typically offered each year and are taught in English. Topics vary.

Advanced courses focus on periods of French literature and culture, artistic and intellectual movements, Francophone studies (including film), social and political issues, and advanced work in translation.

Alum Connections

Stories from French Alums

Natercia Rodrigues ’06 Medical Faculty/Attending Physician

Astrid Rehl Baumgardner ’73 Lecturer & Head of Office of Career Strategies/Professional Career and Executive Coach

Selecting courses in your first year

If you have never studied French you should enroll in 101f-102s, a two-semester course for beginners. If you have previously studied French at Mount Holyoke and wish to continue, you must have the prerequisites stipulated for specific courses.

All students must take the French placement exam before registering for a French class.

Courses and Requirements

All courses are conducted in French with the exception of the first-year seminar (120) and the Romance Language and Literatures Seminar (321) in which the course is taught in English but all reading and writing are done in French.

Learning Goals

Learning a foreign language is an essential component of a Liberal Arts education, offering broad perspectives on other cultures and enhancing abilities in one's own.

Fluency in the French language along with knowledge of a wide range of literature and life in a variety of Francophone cultures, reached through a structured and flexible sequencing of courses from entry to seminar levels, are the goals of our curriculum for majors and non-majors alike. Since full immersion is the most effective way to achieve fluency, all our courses are taught exclusively in French.

Mount Holyoke French majors are competent global citizens who go on to a wide variety of careers.

Immersion

Majors and non-majors are fully immersed in French in all our courses. Students who choose to go abroad become able to study alongside French speakers in courses within the regular academic curriculum of French and French-language universities.

Communication

Students who take courses in the French department become able to engage in substantive and active discussions with French speakers, ranging in complexity from everyday conversations to abstract intellectual discourse.

Expression

Students become able to produce written documents and oral or media presentations that are not only grammatically correct, coherent, and well-organized, but display sophistication of thought and analysis.

Civilization

Students become acquainted with a broad range of written, visual, and digital texts, as well as social and cultural artifacts from all regions of the French-speaking world.

Exploration

Mount Holyoke French majors are able to conduct independent research, articulate their results in effective spoken and written French, take advantage of internship opportunities, and collaborate in a global environment.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

Two of the following 4-credit intermediate courses in culture and literature:8
FREN-215
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World
FREN-219
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World
FREN-225
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World
Two 4-credit electives in culture and literature at the 200 or 300 level8
Three additional 4-credit electives in culture and literature at the 300 level 112
Four credits of advanced language study 24
Total Credits32
1

215, 219, or 225, can be used to fulfill the intermediate course requirements if not previously taken to fulfill the advanced 200-level course requirements. One of the electives may be a course in another department and taught in English provided it focuses substantially on French or Francophone content and was pre-approved by the chair of the French department.

2

French majors who study abroad, for a summer, semester, or year are required to complete at least 4 credits' worth of advanced language work while abroad. When possible, this should include work in both oral French (typically, a course in phonetics) and written French (a course in grammar, composition, stylistics, or translation); in some cases, a single course may cover both written and oral components. French majors who do not study abroad must complete another 300-level course in French in order to fulfill the minimum requirement of 32 credits for the major.

Additional Specifications

  • Note that independent study (FREN-295 and FREN-395) will not be counted among the required courses listed above.
  • The major program should provide continuity in the study of French. To this end, at least one 4-credit course taught in French must be elected each semester of the junior and senior years.

  • See Study Abroad information in the overview for information about crediting courses taken on study abroad towards the major.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 16 credits:

Two of the following intermediate courses in culture and literature:8
FREN-215
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World
FREN-219
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World
FREN-225
Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World
Two advanced courses in culture and literature (300 level)8
Total Credits16

Additional Specifications

  • Independent study (FREN-295 or FREN-395) does not count toward the minor

  • See Study Abroad information in the overview for information about crediting courses taken on study abroad towards the minor.

Course Advice

Course Selection/Foreign Language Requirement

Students who have never studied French should enroll in FREN-101, a course for beginners. Those who have previously studied French at Mount Holyoke and who wish to continue must have the prerequisites stipulated for specific courses.

All students must take a placement test online.

Advanced Courses

The department’s 300-level courses represent a variety of approaches to advanced work in French studies and thus reflect the diversity within the field of French today. Specific offerings under the general rubrics change from year to year. Prerequisites for all 300-level courses are two of the following: FREN-215, FREN-219, or FREN-225. Students who do not have the stipulated prerequisites must consult the department chair or the course instructor.

Course Offerings

FREN-101 Elementary French I

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

Learn to speak, understand, read and write authentic French in record time. We will use a multimedia approach that accesses language via video, audio and text. The immersive environment students experience will equip them to make active use of the language and provide insight into French and Francophone cultures. Students will have the opportunity to work on language skills in sessions with a language assistant.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Oulbeid
Prereq: Placement test required even if no previous study of French; FREN-101 is designed for students with no previous training in French. All students must take the online French placement test to register for the class.
Advisory: FREN-101 is designed for students with no previous training in French or a maximum of one year of French at the high school level. All students must take the online French placement test to register for the class.
Notes: Students who have done strong work in FREN-101 may accelerate to FREN-201 with the approval of their instructor.

FREN-102 Elementary French II

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

Students will develop their speaking, understanding, reading and writing skills in French. The multimedia approach will provide students with an immersive environment where they will engage actively with the language and culture.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
B. Oulbeid
Prereq: FREN-101 or placement test and department placement.

FREN-201 Intermediate French

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

Communication and culture in the global French-speaking world. We will explore different media and documents that will enable students to express themselves both orally and in writing in a wide variety of contexts. Students will consolidate and expand their skills and engage in creative activities in literary as well as colloquial French.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
A. Alquier, C. Shread
Prereq: FREN-102 or placement test and department placement.

FREN-203 Advanced Intermediate French

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course will improve students' writing and speaking skills in French and develop their ability to read and discuss texts. Course materials include authors and films representing cultures of the French-speaking world. Written and oral expression are strengthened through weekly essays, class discussion, and comprehensive grammar review.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
A. Alquier, C. Le Gouis
Prereq: FREN-201 or placement test and department placement.
Notes: Note: FREN-203 provides a strong foundation for continued study of French and for study abroad (see http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/french)

FREN-215 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the Literature and Culture of France and the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces students to literature and culture from a variety of perspectives. It will increase confidence and skill in writing and speaking; integrate historical, political, and social contexts into the study of literary texts from France and the French-speaking world; and bring understanding of the special relevance of earlier periods to contemporary French and Francophone cultural and aesthetic issues. Students explore diversified works - literature, historical documents, film, art, and music - and do formal oral and written presentations.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Le Gouis, C. Shread
Prereq: FREN-203, or placement test and department placement.

FREN-219 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces the literatures of French-speaking countries outside Europe. Readings include tales, novels, plays, and poetry from Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and other areas. Discussions and short papers examine the texts as literary works as well as keys to the understanding of varied cultures. Students will be asked to do formal oral and written presentations.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: FREN-203, or placement test and department placement.

FREN-225 Intermediate Level Courses in Culture and Literature: Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

The primary purpose of this course is to familiarize students with contemporary issues in French culture as they are represented in French-speaking media of today. This course will introduce students to contemporary popular culture, through the study of texts, popular music, and feature films. Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, do oral presentations, and converse with an exchange partner.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
A. Alquier
Prereq: FREN-203, or placement test and department placement.

FREN-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

Advanced Courses

FREN-311 Period Courses

Courses on social and political issues and critical approaches: The usual periodization of French literature and culture is by century. Some period courses focus on the characteristics of specific centuries. Others focus on artistic or intellectual movements: gothic, Renaissance, romantic. All period courses, whatever their conceptual framework, integrate texts and historical contexts.

FREN-321 Genre Courses

This interdisciplinary seminar will focus on a comparative study of Romance languages or literatures. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Seminar discussions will be conducted in English, but students wishing to obtain language credit are expected to read works in at least one original language. Papers will be written in either English or the Romance language of the student's choice.

FREN-321LT Genre Courses: 'Romance Languages Translate'

Spring. Credits: 4

This seminar explores Romance languages, literatures and cultures through the prism of translation. By comparing translations from Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian between each other and into English, we will map out the boundaries, intersections and middle grounds of this language family. Students will engage with the different traditions of translation studies in these languages and critically analyze translators' paratexts. Selecting an individual translation project in a Romance language of their choice, through a process of revision and collaboration, each student will produce both a polished translation and a commentary explaining challenges and choices.

Crosslisted as: ROMLG-375LT, ITAL-361LT, SPAN-360LT
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
C. Shread
Advisory: Two courses in culture and literature at the 200 level.
Notes: Students wishing to obtain 300-level credit in French, Italian, or Spanish must read texts and write papers in the Romance language for which they wish to receive credit.

FREN-331 Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches

These courses examine a definable phenomenon--an idea, a movement, an event, a mentality, a cultural structure or system, an historical problem, a critical mode--relevant to the civilization of France or of French-speaking countries. Readings from a variety of disciplines shed light on the particular aspect of thought or culture being studied.

FREN-331NW Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches: 'The French New Wave'

Spring. Credits: 4

The New Wave was a series of films made in the late 1950s and in the 1960s by a group of Cinémathèque-loving pioneers who had seen almost every movie ever produced and particularly admired American and Russian cinema. This creative explosion won an aesthetic and political victory against an increasingly affluent, self-satisfied society, bringing about a revolution in the film industry that still echoes today.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Le Gouis
Prereq: FREN-215, FREN-219, or FREN-225.

FREN-331RE Courses on Social and Political Issues and Critical Approaches: 'Revolutions'

Fall. Credits: 4

We will examine a wide variety of documents, ranging from key historical texts to insurgents' posters, in order to explore the concept of revolution and to analyze how France was dramatically changed by overarching societal, historical, and artistic developments. We will focus on France's relations with racial minorities in times of upheaval at the local, national, and global levels.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
A. Alquier
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225

FREN-341 Courses in Francophone Studies

These courses study nonmetropolitan French-speaking cultures and literary works written in French outside Europe. Areas of focus are one or more of the following regions: Africa, the Caribbean, or Canada.

FREN-341AF Courses in Francophone Studies: 'Tales and Legends of French-Speaking Africa'

Spring. Credits: 4

Since the advent of fiction writing in French-speaking Africa in the 1920s, the study of African literatures has been mainly limited to poems, novels, short stories, and plays written by a French-educated elite. In this course we will explore samples of African oral literatures including tales, epic songs, and legends from different African regions. Through translations by writers such as Léopold Sédar Senghor, Birago Diop (Senegal), Djibril Tamsmir Niane (Guinea), and Bernard Dadié (Ivory Coast) we will try to view African societies from "within" and gain an understanding of the genealogy of modern African literature in European languages.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: Two of the following courses: FREN-215, FREN-219, FREN-225.

FREN-341NE Courses in Francophone Studies: 'Revisiting the Negritude Movement: Origins, Evolution, and Relevance'

Fall. Credits: 4

In the interwar period, 1920-1940, black students from Africa and the Caribbean met in Paris to pursue their education. Galvanized by the colonial situation at home and the political situation in France, Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Léopold S. Senghor (Sénégal), and Léon Damas (French Guyana) formed the cultural movement called Négritude. This course will survey the emergence, goals, evolution, achievements, and legacies of that movement. Discussions will be based on major texts by the founders. Their influence on the works of a new generation of African and Caribbean writers will also be examined.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Language; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Gadjigo
Prereq: 12 credits in French including two courses at the advanced level, or permission of department chair and instructor.

FREN-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Contact Us

The French Department helps students develop a broad and varied acquaintance with French and Francophone cultures and literature.

Stacey Pare
  • Academic Department Coordinator

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