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French and French Studies

Students may complete a major or minor in French and French studies. Within the major, student may complete the requirements for secondary education certification. Students may complete an M.A. in the combined A.B./M.A. program.


Koffi Anyinefa, Professor at Haverford College
Grace M. Armstrong, E. M. Shenck 1907 Professor of French and Major Adviser
Roseline Cousin, Senior Lecturer
Janet Doner, Senior Lecturer
Florence Echtman, Instructor at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges
Francis Higginson, Assistant Professor
Duane Kight, Assistant Professor at Haverford College
Brigitte Mahuzier, Associate Professor and Chair; Director of the Avignon Institute
Nathalie Marcus, Lecturer
David L. Sedley, Associate Professor at Haverford College
Nancy J. Vickers, Professor

The Departments of French at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges offer a unified program and a variety of courses and major options. The purpose of the major in French is to lay the foundation for an understanding and appreciation of French culture through its literature and language, the history of its arts, its thought and its institutions. Course offerings are intended to serve both those with particular interest in French literature, literary theory and criticism, as well as those with particular interest in French and French-speaking countries from the perspective of history, culture and political science. A thorough knowledge of French is a common goal for both orientations, and texts and discussion in French are central both to the program focusing on French history and culture (interdisciplinary concentration) and to the literary specialization (literature concentration).

In the 100-level courses, students are introduced to the study of French and Francophone literatures and cultures, and special attention is given to the speaking and writing of French. Courses at the 200 level treat French literature and civilization from the beginning to the present day. Four 200-level courses are devoted to advanced language training, with practice in spoken as well as in written French. Advanced (300-level) courses offer detailed study either of individual authors, genres and movements (literature concentration) or of particular periods, themes and problems in French culture (interdisciplinary concentration). In both tracks, students are admitted to advanced courses after satisfactory completion of two semesters of 200-level courses in French.

All students who wish to pursue their study of French must take a placement examination upon entrance at Bryn Mawr and Haverford. Those students who begin French have two options: intensive study of the language in the intensive sections offered (the sequence 001-002 Intensive Elementary; 005 Intensive Intermediate and 102 Textes, Images, Voix II, or 005 and 105 Directions de la France contemporaine), or nonintensive study of the language in the nonintensive sequence (001-002; 003-004; 101-102 or 101-105; 103-102 or 103-105). In either case, students who pursue French to the 200 level often find it useful to take as their first 200-level course either 212 Grammaire avancée or 260 Stylistique et traduction. Although it is possible to major in French using either of the two sequences, students who are considering doing so and have been placed at the 001 level are encouraged to take the intensive option.

The Department of French also cooperates with the Departments of Italian and Spanish in the Romance Languages major.

Major Requirements

Requirements in the major subject are:

  1. Literature concentration: French 005-102 or 005-105; 101-102 or 101-105; 103-102 or 103-105, French 212 or 260, four semesters of 200-level literature courses, two semesters of 300-level literature courses, and the two-semester Senior Conference.
  2. Interdisciplinary concentration: French 005-102 or 005-105; 101-102 or 101-105, 103-102 or 103-105; French 212 or 260; French 291 and 294, the core courses; a minimum of two civilization courses to be chosen among 246, 248, 251, 255, 296, 298, 299, 325, 326, with at least one course at the 300 level; two 200- or 300-level French literature courses, with one of these courses chosen at the 300 level; and the two-semester Senior Conference.
  3. Both concentrations: all French majors are expected to have acquired fluency in the French language, both written and oral. Unless specifically exempted by the department, they are required to take French 212 or 260. Students may wish to continue from 212 to 260 to hone their skills further. Students placed at the 200 level by departmental examinations are exempted from the 100-level requirements. Occasionally, students may be admitted to seminars in the graduate school.


Undergraduates who have excelled in French by maintaining a minimum grade of 3.6 may, if invited by the department, write an honors thesis during one or two semesters of their senior year. However, the invitation and the subsequent writing of such a thesis do not guarantee the award. Departmental honors may also be awarded for excellence in both the oral and written comprehensive examinations at the end of the senior year.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for a French minor are French 005-102 or 005-105, 101-102, 101-105, 103-102 or 103-105; French 212 or 260; and four 200-level or 300-level courses. At least one course must be at the 300 level.

Teacher Certification

The Department of French offers a certification program in secondary teacher education. For more information, see the description of the Education Program.

A.B./M.A. Program

Particularly well-qualified students may undertake work toward the joint A.B./M.A. degree in French. Such a program may be completed in four or five years and is undertaken with the approval of the department, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and of the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Study Abroad

Students majoring in French may, by a joint recommendation of the deans of the Colleges and the Departments of French, be allowed to spend their junior year in France under one of the junior year plans approved by their respective college: some programs are approved by both Bryn Mawr and Haverford (e.g., Sweet Briar); other programs are accepted separately by Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

Students wishing to enroll in a summer program may apply for admission to the Institut d’Etudes Françaises d’Avignon, held under the auspices of Bryn Mawr. The institute is designed for selected undergraduates with a serious interest in French and Francophone literatures and cultures, most particularly for those who anticipate professional careers requiring a knowledge of the language and civilization of France and French speaking countries. The curriculum includes general and advanced courses in French language, literature, social sciences, history and art. The program is open to students of high academic achievement who have completed a course in French at the third-year level or the equivalent.

FREN B001, B002 Elementary French

The speaking and understanding of French are emphasized particularly during the first semester. The work includes regular use of the Language Learning Center and is supplemented by intensive oral practice sessions. The course meets in intensive (nine hours a week) and nonintensive (five hours a week) sections. This is a year-long course; both semesters are required for credit. (Cousin, Doner, Echtman, Kight,)

FREN B003, B004 Intermediate French

The emphasis on speaking and understanding French is continued; texts from French literature and cultural media are read; and short papers are written in French. Students use the Language Learning Center regularly and attend supplementary oral practice sessions. The course meets in nonintensive (three hours a week) sections that are supplemented by an extra hour per week with an assistant. This is a year-long course; both semesters are required for credit. (Cousin, Echtman, Kight, Marcus, Sedley, staff)

FREN B005 Intensive Intermediate French

The emphasis on speaking and understanding French is continued; literary and cultural texts are read and increasingly longer papers are written in French. In addition to three class meetings a week, students develop their skills in group sessions with the professors and in oral practice hours with assistants. Students use the Language Learning Center regularly. This course prepares students to take 102 or 105 in semester II. Open only to graduates of Intensive Elementary French or to students placed by the department. Students who are not graduates of Intensive Elementary French must take either 102 or 105 to receive credit. (Armstrong, Doner, Echtman)

FREN B101 Textes, Images, Voix I

Presentation of essential problems in literary and cultural analysis by close reading of works selected from various periods and genres and by analysis of voice and image in French writing and film. Participation in discussion and practice in written and oral expression are emphasized, as are grammar review and laboratory exercises. (Higginson, Mahuzier, Marcus, Sedley, Division III)

FREN B102 Textes, Images, Voix II

Continued development of students' expertise in literary and cultural analysis by emphasizing close reading as well as oral and written analyses of increasingly complex works chosen from various genres and periods of French and Francophone works in their written and visual modes. Readings begin with comic theatre of the 17th and 18th centuries and build to increasingly complex nouvelles, poetry and novels of the 19th and 20th centuries. Participation in guided discussion and practice in oral/written expression continue to be emphasized, as are grammar review. Prerequisite: French 005, 101 or 103. (Armstrong, Echtman, Division III)

FREN 103 De Sedan à la Belle Epoque (1870-1914)

In this course, students will be introduced to events, personalities and issues whose effects are still felt in contemporary France. The course will be structured around thematic clusters such as "Napoléon III et Victor Hugo" and "La Commune de 1871." Readings will be drawn from literary and nonliterary texts of the period, as well as from theoretical, historical, sociological and anthropological analyses. The complexities of French grammar covered in French 101 will be reviewed. Students will gain an understanding of the period that will ground further study either of contemporary French culture or of 19th- and 20th-century French literature. (Kight, Division III)

FREN B105 Directions de la France contemporaine

An examination of contemporary society in France and Francophone cultures as portrayed in recent documents and film. Emphasizing the tension in contemporary French-speaking societies between tradition and change, the course focuses on subjects such as family structures and the changing role of women, cultural and linguistic identity, an increasingly multiracial society, the individual and institutions (religious, political, educational), and les loisirs. In addition to the basic text and review of grammar, readings are chosen from newspapers, contemporary literary texts and magazines, complemented by video materials. Prerequisite: French 005, 101 or 103. (Cousin, Kight, Division III)

FREN B201 Le chevalier, la dame et le prêtre: littérature et publics du Moyen Age

Using literary texts, historical documents and letters as a mirror of the social classes that they address, this interdisciplinary course studies the principal preoccupations of secular and religious men and women in France from the Carolingian period through 1500. Selected works from epic, lai, roman courtois, fabliau, theater, letters and contemporary biography are read in modern French translation. (Armstrong, Division III)

FREN B202 Crises et identités: La Renaissance

A study of the development of Humanism, the concept of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The course focuses on representative works, with special attention given to the prose of Rabelais and Montaigne, the Conteurs, the poetry of Marat, Scève, the Pléiade and d'Aubigné. (Sedley, Division III)

FREN B204 Le Siècle des lumières

Representative texts of the Enlightenment and the Pre-Romantic movement, with emphasis on the development of liberal thought as illustrated in the Encyclopédie and the works of Diderot, Montesquieu, Rousseau and Voltaire. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B205 Le Temps des prophètes: de Chateaubriand à Baudelaire (1800-60)

From Chateaubriand and Romanticism to Baudelaire, a study of selected poems, novels and plays. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B206 Le Temps des virtuoses: Symbolisme, Naturalisme et leur progéniture, (1860-1930)

A study of selected works by Claudel, Gide, Proust, Rimbaud, Valéry, Verlaine and Zola. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B207 Missionnaires et cannibales: de Malraux à Modiano (1930-1995)

A study of selected works illustrating the principal literary movements from 1930 to the present. (Higginson, Division III)

FREN B212 Grammaire Avancée: Composition et conversation

A general review of the most common difficulties of the French language. Practice in composition and conversation. (Echtman, Division III)

FREN B213 Approches critiques et théoriques

This course provides exposure to influential 20th-century French theorists while bringing these thinkers to bear on appropriate literary texts. It hones students' critical skills while expanding their knowledge of French intellectual history. The explicitly critical aspect of the course will also serve students throughout their coursework, regardless of field. (Mahuzier, Division III; cross-listed as COML B213)

FREN B231 De la page à l'écran: Romans français et adaptations cinématographiques

This course proposes to examine different genres of French novels and their cinematographic adaptations. We will focus on close readings of novels, including discussion of literary genres and techniques. We will then study the films based on these novels not simply as "translations," but as independent works that illustrate different methods of story telling. How does the medium influence the telling of the story, including the relationship between reader and book, spectator and film? The purpose of the course is to expose students to different types of narratives, constructed through a wide range of literary and cinematographic techniques. (Marcus, Division III)

FREN B255 Cinéma français/francophone et (post-)colonialisme

A study of cinéastes from France, Africa, North and South of the Sahara, and the Caribbean whose films treat the colonial and postcolonial experience. (Anyinefa, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B260 Stylistique et traduction

Intensive practice in speaking and writing. Conversation, discussion, advanced training in grammar and stylistics, translation of literary and nonliterary texts, and original composition. (Cousin, Doner)

FREN B262 Débat, discussion, dialogue

Intensive oral practice intended to bring non-native French speakers to the highest level of proficiency through the development of debating and discussion skills. (Cousin)

FREN B291 La Civilisation française

A survey of French cultures and society from the Revolution to De Gaulle's Republic. Serves as one of the core courses for the interdisciplinary concentration. (Mahuzier, Division III; cross-listed as HIST B291) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B299 Littérature, histoire et société de la Révolution à la Première Guerre mondiale

A study of the language and political, social and ethical messages of literary texts whose authors were "engagés" in the conflicts, wars and revolutions that shook French society from the advent of the 1789 Revolution to the First World War. Counts for either the literary or interdisciplinary track. (Mahuzier, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B302 Le printemps de la parole féminine: femmes écrivains des débuts

This study of selected women authors from the French Middle Ages, Renaissance and Classical periods - among them, Marie de France, the trobairitz, Christine de Pisan, Marguerite de Navarre and Madame de Lafayette - examines the way in which they appropriate and transform the male writing tradition and define themselves as self-conscious artists within or outside it. Particular attention will be paid to identifying recurring concerns and structures in their works, and to assessing their importance to female writing; among them, the poetics of silence, reproduction as a metaphor for artistic creation, and sociopolitical engagement. (Armstrong, Division III; cross-listed as COML B302) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B320 La France et ses Orients

This course introduces students to the concept of Orientalism, as proposed by Edward Saïd, through readings of a number of canonical writers of the 19th and 20th centuries from North Africa, the Middle East and France. In the process, students will learn how to read diachronically and cross-culturally. (Higginson, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B325 Symptoms of the Imagination: Illness and Genius in 19th-Century France

This course will examine the embodiment of the imagination in 19th-century France, with special focus on authors who explored the link between creative genius and malady. We will examine themes such as the feminization of the male artist and the gender of genius, in addition to the stereotypes of the poète maudit and the mad genius. In particular, we will focus on the nervous diseases, melancholy, hysteria and synesthesia, exploring how writers turned to them in their attempt to capture the essence of the creative process. (Marcus, Division III; cross-listed as COML B325)

FREN B326 Etudes avancées de civilisation

An in-depth study of a particular topic, event or historical figure in French civilisation. The seminar topic rotates among many subjects: La Révolution française: histoire, littérature et culture; L'Environnement naturel dans la culture française; Mal et valeurs éthiques; Le Cinéma et la politique, 1940-1968; Le Nationalisme en France et dans les pays francophones; Etude socioculturelle des arts du manger en France du Moyen Age à nos jours. (Mahuzier, staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B326) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B350 Voix médiévales et échos modernes

A study of selected 19th- and 20th-century works inspired by medieval subjects, such as the Grail and Arthurian legends, and by medieval genres, such as the roman, saints' lives or the miracle play. Included are works by Anouilh, Bonnefoy, Claudel, Flaubert, Genevoix, Gracq, Hugo and Yourcenar. (Armstrong, Division III; cross-listed as COML B350)

FREN B354 Ecrivains/théoriciens engagés

(Mahuzier, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

FREN B355 Variations sur le récit moderne: ruses et ressources

(Higginson, Division III)

FREN B398, B399 Senior Conference

A weekly seminar examining representative French and Francophone literary texts and cultural documents from all periods, and the interpretive problems they raise. Close reading and dissection of texts, complemented by extensive secondary readings from different schools of interpretation, prepare students to analyze other critical stances and to develop their own. In addition to short essays and oral presentations, students write a long paper each semester and end the year with Senior Comprehensives, which consist of an oral presentation of one of the long papers and a four-hour written examination. (Armstrong, Sedley)

FREN B403 Supervised Work

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