Nov 29, 2020  
Course Catalog 2010-2011 
Course Catalog 2010-2011 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

French and Italian

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Matthew Senior, Associate Professor of French, Department Chair
Eunjung Grace An, Assistant Professor of French and Cinema Studies
Ivana Di Siena, Instructor of Italian
E. Elizabeth Murphy, Assistant Professor of French
Loïc Thommeret, Faculty-in-Residence and Lecturer in French
Ali Yedes, Associate Professor of French


The Department of French and Italian offers a major in French and Francophone studies supported by an extensive and distinctive curriculum. In addition to courses supporting the French major, the department offers courses in beginning Italian language. We strongly encourage students to include in their major a semester or year of study abroad in a program suited to their interests and level.



Cultural ties between France and America go back to the origin of the American republic, when Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Paine borrowed and shared concepts with French revolutionaries to frame the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Today, French and Francophone literature, philosophy, art, and cinema continue to exert a powerful influence over students and intelligentsia around the world. The legacy of French thought reaches back to Descartes, Rousseau, Bergson, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir and continues into the present, where the concepts of Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze,  and others are indispensable to theory in the human and social sciences and real-world struggles related to race, nation, gender, class, and the environment. Writers such as Assia Djebar, Tahar Ben Jalloun, and Maryse Condé, and cinéastes such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claire Denis, and Ousmane Sembène have given world literature and film new faces and voices, while Médecins sans frontières has defined the concept of humanitarian aid beyond national boundaries.

 In the image of this new, engaged, global community of Francophones, the French program offers students the opportunity to integrate classroom learning with study abroad in France, Africa, and other countries, on-campus activities at La Maison Francophone, and opportunities to serve the broader community. The program is built on four integrated objectives: mastery of spoken and written French; acquisition of critical appreciation of literature written in French, and of French-speaking cinema; the study of culture through cultural analysis; awareness of the life-changing experiences entailed in the intellectual and personal challenges of learning a different way of being. We encourage majors to live in La Maison Francophone on campus, where they have the opportunity of immersion in the target language and culture in daily contact with native speakers. The French program intersects with other major programs on campus, allowing students to combine their interests in History, Art History, Comparative Literature, Cinema Studies, Middle-Eastern and North African Studies, Economics, Politics, and other subject areas with a major of minor in French. Departmental advisors are available for consultation in organizing the major program. Lectures, discussions, and written work in advanced courses are normally in French.



The Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, located on the third floor of Peters Hall, is a state of the art facility designed for both class and individual use at all levels of language learning. Audio, video and computer materials are available for student use. Laboratory practice is encouraged for all students who wish to improve their speaking and oral comprehension.



Students who have received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in French Language or French Literature will be automatically awarded three hours of Oberlin College credit as French 300 and will be qualified to enter the Oberlin French curriculum at the 300-level. Students receiving AP credit should enroll for French 309, 321, 360, 361, 371, 372, or 373. AP credit (French 300) counts toward the French major.



It is the department’s policy to advance students as fast as achievement warrants. Students who have taken the SAT II Exam in French should enroll in courses according to their score:

800-675            French 309, 321, 360, 361, 371, 372, 373
675-625            French 301
625-550            French 203 or 205, 206

Students with previous study of French who have not taken the SAT II exam should take the Oberlin French Placement Test administered by the department during orientation to determine their appropriate level.



French 101-102 (or 103), 205-206 (or 203), 301, other 300-level courses in French, followed by 400 level courses. French 301 or the equivalent (via SAT-II or placement exam scores, or AP) is the prerequisite for other courses at the 300 level unless otherwise noted. Two 300-level courses beyond 301 are the prerequisite for the courses at the 400-level. Other prerequisites may be noted: see the course descriptions below.


The French major consists of 30 hours of coursework at the level of 301 or above, including at least 12 hours at the 300 level (beyond 301) and nine hours at the 400 level. AP credit (French 300) can be counted toward the major. French 301 or the equivalent is the prerequisite for taking other courses at the 300 level and two 300-level courses are the prerequisite for taking courses at the 400 level. It is strongly encouraged that majors take 371, 372 or 373 before advancing to corresponding 400-level literature courses.


The minor consists of at least 17 hours of coursework, including two 300-level courses (beyond 301), and one course at the 400 level. Courses at the 100 and 200 level are not counted toward the minor, but 300 (AP credit) and 301 may be counted.

Special Restrictions for the Major and Minor

French 250 may be counted toward the major, and students may count other French courses offered in English toward the major or minor, providing they complete the reading and all written work for the course in French. Students may count toward the French major or minor only courses in which they receive a grade of P (or CR) or C– or higher.

Transfer of Credit

The department will accept up to 15 hours of approved transfer credit toward the major of 30 hours. Nine hours of the major credit must be taken in residence at the advanced level, i.e., French 309 or above, including at least one 400 level course. For the minor, up to eight hours of approved transfer credit may be applied to the minor, but at least six credits must be taken in residence at the advanced level.


The Honors Program in French provides qualified majors with the opportunity to complete a special project during their senior year. An Honors Project entails independent study in French, in consultation with a faculty sponsor, completed over two semesters (six credit hours). Qualified students are invited to apply to the program during the second semester of their junior year. Admission is determined on the basis of faculty recommendation and overall and major GPA. Further information on the Honors Program may be obtained from the departmental office. See also the statement on Honors in the “General Information” section of this catalog.

Related Disciplines

Students who major in French often complete a major in a related field. The department welcomes and encourages this exchange between disciplines. French majors have also majored in fields as diverse as Art History, Biology, Comparative Literature, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, History, Music (both within the College and Conservatory), Neuroscience, Philosophy, Politics, Spanish, and Religion. As students plan their major or minor in French, they should keep in mind the manner in which other disciplines can enrich their major coursework.  Knowledge of Latin is highly desirable for all majors and minors, as well as various related courses in Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, English, History, Philosophy and Politics. The International Studies Concentration provides an appropriate grounding in the social sciences for majors interested in international affairs.

La Maison Francophone

An important element in the department’s program is La Maison Francophone. The Faculty-in-Residence is assisted by two French exchange students. There are rooming accommodations for forty men and women. Regular programming includes French language dining, films, lectures and discussions on Francophone culture, French-language television, and various other cultural and social activities.

Study Abroad

The department expects all majors to study abroad at the appropriate time in their college career. The Office of the Dean of Studies has an approved list of programs and the faculty members of the department advise students in choosing a program that best suits student needs.

Oberlin’s own bilateral exchange with the Institut d’études politiques de Paris, “Sciences Po,” allows students majoring in History, Economics, Politics, and other subjects to study at an elite grande école in Paris. Study Away programs in Paris, Aix, Marseille, and Dakar offer many possibilities for studying while engaging in community service. The CIEE Center for Critical Studies program in Paris is an attractive option for students interested in literature, cinema, and philosophy. The AUCP program in Aix and Marseille is attractive to those interested in cultural exchange between France and North Africa, including research trips to Morocco and study of the Arabic language. (See a faculty member and student testimonials for more information about these programs.)

Winter Term

The department sponsors a number of group and individual projects each year.  Projects may take place in the US or overseas; as an example:  in WT 2008 a group of students worked in a shelter for refugees in Belgium. There is always a group project based at La Maison Francophone. In the past, projects have been designed to review the language at the beginning and/or intermediate level—both individually and in groups, to do selected readings in French literature, to survey French art in relationship to literature, to study French cuisine and so on.  For information on possible Winter Term projects, consult the department chair. (See also “Winter Term” in General Information section.)

First Year Seminars

I. Language Courses (Offered Every Year)

II. Colloquia (Offered Every Year)

III. Survey Courses (Offered Every Year)

IV. Advanced Courses in French

V. Courses Offered in English


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