Curriculum Overview

The Francophone Studies Curriculum

The Francophone Studies Program at Bowdoin prepares its students:
  • to communicate effectively in French
  • to be excellent listeners, speakers, readers and writers
  • to be knowledgeable about a broad variety of oral, literary and cultural traditions of the French-speaking world
  • to be well versed in critical concepts and research methods necessary for their analysis
  • to be familiar with the complexly intertwined intellectual movements, histories and social structures of the French-speaking world
  • to be insightful and confident analysts of all kinds of texts and images
  • to contribute to and thrive in a global world

The Francophone studies curriculum consists of the following types of courses, all of them conducted in French.

Language Sequence

As these courses are sequential, students should begin their study of language in the fall semester.

Francophone studies 1101-2204 [101-204]
These courses develop students’ fluency in French (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and cultural awareness of the French-speaking world. FRS 1101 and 2203 are offered every fall and FRS 1102 and 2204 are offered every spring.

Advanced French through Film

Francophone studies 2305 [205]
This course introduces film analysis, enhances writing skills, provides in-depth advanced grammar review, and develops mastery of complex structures and vocabulary. Please note that this course is offered in the fall semester only.

Prerequisite: FRS 2304 or placement.

Introduction to French and Francophone Literatures and Cultures

FRS 2407 through 2410 introduce students to the study of the cultures and literatures of the Francophone world. While each course has a different focus, they are all equally challenging and may be taken in any order or number. For the major in Francophone studies, students must take at least one culture course (FRS 2407 or 2408) and both FRS 2409 and FRS 2410, or the equivalent in study abroad. FRS 2409 and FRS 2410 are offered every semester and FRS 2407 and 2408 are offered every spring. 

Prerequisite:  FRS 2305 or placement

Introduction to Culture and Society

These courses broaden and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of French-speaking societies and cultures. Students sharpen their skills in cultural analysis. Francophone Cultures (FRS 2407) introduces students to French-speaking countries of Africa (North, West, Central), North America, and the Caribbean and their complex history and cultures as well as key concepts to understanding their contemporary societies. Contemporary France through the Media (FRS 2408) examines issues in France today through written and visual media and introduces students to the French political system and to key concepts for understanding contemporary France. Courses emphasize oral activities that help prepare students for study abroad in French-speaking countries.

Prerequisite: FRS 2305 or placement.

Introduction to the Study and Criticism of Literature

These courses expose students to literary works of all genres in their sociohistorical contexts. They develop students’ understanding of critical approaches to literary texts and their skill in textual analysis. These courses include an important writing component that helps prepare students for study abroad in French-speaking countries. FRS 2409 examines oral and written traditions of areas where French is spoken in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and North America from the Middle Ages to 1848. FRS 2410 examines questions of power and resistance as addressed in the literary production of the French-speaking world of Africa, the Caribbean, and France from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries.

Prerequisite: FRS 2305 or placement.

Topics in French and Francophone Studies

These courses are seminars that bring together smaller groups of students to focus intensely on particular topics often linked to the professor’s areas of research. Throughout the semester, students take an active role in leading discussion of course material. They conduct independent work on topics of their choosing and share their findings with their peers.

Prerequisite: FRS 2407 or 2408 and FRS 2409 and 2410, or another 3000-level course

Independent Study and Honors

Available to seniors who wish to work more closely on a particular topic on which they have conducted research. Students work with an advisor for whom their topic is an area of expertise.

Prerequisites: Application and project proposal approved by the Department, and at least one Francophone studies course at the 3000 level.

Students doing an honors project must be enrolled in another Francophone studies course throughout the duration of the project. Please see specific course listings for more detailed descriptions of individual course offerings.