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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
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Course Descriptions

Department of French Language and Literature

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Whether an end in itself, or a preparation for the Ph.D, the M.A. is a broad and general degree, drawing upon the materials and methods of French (and closely allied) studies to extend and deepen the candidate's humanistic background and competencies. The program's prime goals thus include the following: broad knowledge and understanding of French culture from its origins to the present; effective teaching skills built through training and experience; tools of intellectual inquiry necessary for further study, including abstract thinking and research skills; mastery of the French language.

Course Requirements Coursework (ten courses or thirty hours) and a general comprehensive examination (with both written and oral components) are the essential elements of our M.A. degree. A minimum of twenty-four credits (usually eight courses) must be taken in the department. All courses are selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and with the student's faculty advisor. We also offer the opportunity to work with individual faculty directors on a research thesis at the M.A. level.

Comprehensive Examination: The MA exam consists of a two-part written and a three-part oral, covering a broad chronological spectrum of French and Francophone Studies from the Middle Ages to the present: List A (Pre-1800) and List B (Post-1750). These exams are typically taken at the end of the student's second year in the program.

The two-part written exam is composed in French. One of the three parts of the oral exam is conducted in English. No student passes whose French and English are not deemed by the examining committee to be sufficiently fluent and correct.

All MA examinations are administered during a one-week period during the last week of April. It is the responsibility of the candidate to notify the Director of Graduate Studies, one month in advance, of the intent to sit for the MA examinations. All parts of the examination must be passed; in case of failure, any part of the comprehensive examination may be retaken only once, normally at a make-up session held two weeks later.

Part One of the written examination (List A or List B) is a 2-hour textual commentary based on the close reading of a passage distributed to exam candidates 72 hours prior to the examination date. Part Two is a 4-hour written exam, based upon the same reading list elected for the textual commentary. Questions will be distributed on Monday afternoon. The examination is to be completed and returned by Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm.

The 75-minute oral examination, scheduled typically on the first Friday of examination week, covers the list not examined in the written. It includes: 1/ a twenty-minute oral presentation, based either on a course paper or on independent research; 2/ followed by discussion of that paper and; 3/ by general questions on the reading list elected for this examination

Time Limit The M.A. degree is normally completed in four semesters. The graduate studies committee must be petitioned for any extension. By GSAS regulations, the absolute time limit for completion of the degree is five years.

Review and Permission to Take Further Course Work At the end of the first year, individual progress is reviewed and a second-year calendar prepared by the director of graduate studies in consultation with the candidate. The director submits to the faculty a report and evidence of insufficient progress, if the need arises.

Immediately after completion of the optional master's comprehensive examination, each candidate who wishes to take further course work must petition the director for consideration by the faculty. Evidence to be considered includes grades, M.A. examination results, and faculty reports. Prior to admission to the Ph.D. program, appointment to a graduate teaching assistantship does not entail, nor should it be construed as implying, such admission. Continuance is conditional upon satisfactory progress toward completion of the doctoral program; permission to take further course work does not entail admission to candidacy for the degree of Ph.D., which follows upon successful completion of the Ph.D. preliminary examinations.

Doctor of Philosophy The Ph.D. is a closely supervised research degree, emphasizing (1) extensive advanced work in at least two related fields; (2) a high degree of sophistication in appropriate aspects of theory and methods; and (3) proficiency in the expository, investigative and linguistic skills required in the chief modes of professional writing.

Admission To begin doctoral work, the prospective candidate normally holds the University of Virginia M.A. degree in French and has permission to take further course work, as outlined above. A student entering with an M.A. degree (or the equivalent) from another institution is considered for permission to take further course work after completing all requirements for the University of Virginia M.A. in French not satisfied by courses taken (or proficiency achieved) elsewhere. A student admitted without deficiency is considered for permission to take further course work after one semester (nine credits) of doctoral courses completed in this department.

Advisory Board Not later than the first week of doctoral course work, all prospective candidates will submit to the graduate studies committee a statement of purpose, on the basis of which the committee will make recommendations regarding the composition of the student's advisory board. During the following week, the Director of Graduate Study will initiate a meeting with each student to discuss these recommendations and, on behalf of the student, will send a brief letter of introduction to prospective advisory board members. The student will then arrange to meet with prospective advisory board members, determine a chair of said board, and report this information back to the Director of Graduate Study who, in turn, will send to all concerned parties an official letter to that effect. The presumptive director of the dissertation is a member of the board, from the beginning of the student's program, if possible, otherwise as soon as the student's research interests have become clear and consent of the board has been obtained. The board confers with the student each term on such matters as long-range goals, choice of major and adjunct fields, selection and timing of courses, deadlines and strategies for the satisfaction of degree requirements, as well as the rate and quality of the student's progress. In addition, the board is responsible for administering the preliminary examination, and, together with the graduate studies committee, takes part in assessing the candidate's dissertation prospectus.

After each meeting with the candidate, the chair of the advisory board reports to the director of graduate studies. As the need arises, the advisory board may be changed by petition to the graduate studies committee from the student or any faculty member of the advisory board.

At the time of preliminary examinations, the advisory board is replaced by the departmental dissertation committee. A period of at least three months must elapse (1) between changes in the composition of the advisory board and the taking of the preliminary examinations, and (2) between any change in dissertation director and the defense of the dissertation.

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (1) A minimum of eight courses beyond the M.A. (up to three courses may be taken in other departments); course selection by consultation with the advisory board. (2) a prelimary examination (see below for details); (3) dissertation and final oral examination ("defense").

Three seminars; Proseminar; language and professional development courses as appropriate; a course in French civilization, Francophone literature, or both, are recommended.

By GSAS rule, total time in the Ph.D. program after the B.A. must be at least three sessions (academic years) and total credits of graduate study (excluding non-topical research, but including independent study) must be at least 54 (eighteen three-hour courses).

Ph.D. students are normally required to serve as graduate instructors and may therefore expect to take the one-hour practicum, FREN 704 (Theories and Methods of Language Teaching), which is required of all teaching assistants in the first semester of teaching.

Language Requirement To fulfill the general reading knowledge requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the student pursuing the Ph.D. in French may not present that language, but should present another Romance language or German, or any other language approved by the advisory board. Two options are available:

  1. Two literature courses, not in translation, at the 300-level or above, selected with the consent of the advisory board and completed with a grade of B or better; or
  2. satisfactory performance on a written translation test, part of which is completed with, and part without, a dictionary.

Preliminary Examination After the student has completed course work and language requirements, the advisory board determines readiness for the preliminary examination, successful completion of which admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. The examination consists of a six-hour written exam on the reading list of the major field, a three-hour written exam on that of the adjunct field, and a one-to-two hour oral exam. The oral consists of a thirty minute presentation of an aspect of the dissertation topic, a discussion of the presentation, questions arising from the written examination, and other issues related to the student's work. Admission to the oral is contingent on the quality of the written. The written exams are to be completed on non-consecutive days, normally in the same week; the oral exam occurs the following week. The major field is composed in French; the adjunct field in English.

No student passes whose French or English is deemed by the advisory board to be inadequate. All parts of the examination must be passed. In case of unsatisfactory performance, only the part failed must be retaken. Only one reexamination is permitted on any part.

Dissertation Upon completion of preliminary examinations, the Advisory Board is replaced by the departmental Dissertation Committee consisting of the prospective dissertation director and a colleague, both chosen by the candidate. Within three months after admission to candidacy, the student will present a prospectus of his or her dissertation to the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee for discussion, approval, and possible amendment by both bodies. As the dissertation progresses, the Dissertation Committee will be joined by a third reader from the Department and a dean's representative for the final examination, an oral defense.

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Course Descriptions


Note To enroll in courses numbered 500 or above, all graduate or special students must have completed the equivalent of three years in the appropriate foreign language at the college level. All 500-level courses are taught on the graduate level; prerequisite for undergraduates to enroll in 500-level courses is successful completion of two 400-level courses with a grade of B or higher and permission of the instructor. For courses numbered 800 or above, graduate status in the department or special permission is required.

FREN 101G - (0) (Y)

Prerequisite: Open only to graduate students.
Preparatory course in grammar and translation for graduate students who need to take a reading exam in French. Students who complete FREN 101G should be able to read and translate French texts with the proper dictionaries and grammar resources. Not a course in speaking, writing, or listening comprehension.

FREN 501 - (3) (Y)
Language Development

Careful applied re-study of the structure of the French language based on recent theories of communication and meaning. Investigates, and makes practical use of, general notions regarding levels of language, semantic vs. lexical fields, meaning in situation, rhetorical figures and discourse, etc. All forms of communication are considered, including oral and visual signs.

FREN 508 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Reading Old French

Prerequisite: Good reading knowledge of modern French.
How to read Old French. Selections will be read and studied from several varieties of Old French including the Ile-de-France, Picard, and Anglo-Norman dialects. Some attention will be given to the derivation of French from Latin. Taught in English.

FREN 509 - (3) (SI)
Introduction to Old Provencal Language and Literature

Prerequisite: FREN 508 or instructor permission.
Old Provencal (alias Old Occitan) is presented as a grammatical system with some attention to its derivation from Latin. Readings of simple prose texts followed by poetic selections of the troubadours. Taught in English.

FREN 510 - (3) (E)
Medieval Literature in Modern French I

Introduces literary forms, habits of style and thought, and conditions of composition from the late eleventh century to the late thirteenth. Chanson de Roland, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, lyric poetry, etc.

FREN 511 - (3) (O)
Medieval Literature in Modern French II

An inquiry into the literary culture of the period from the late thirteenth century to the late fifteenth. Topics include the Roman de la Rose, Joinville and Froissart; the development of drama; new lyric forms, early humanism; Villon; and problems of literary history and hermeneutics for a neglected period in French culture.

FREN 520 - (3) (O)
Literature of the Sixteenth Century: Poetry

Studies the developments in theory and practice of French Renaissance poetry and poetics as seen in works by the Rhetoriqueurs, including Marot, Sebillet, Sceve, Labe, Du Bellay, Ronsard, and d'Aubigne.

FREN 521 - (3) (E)
Literature of the Sixteenth Century: Prose

Studies important trends in Renaissance thought and style as seen in the works of major prose writers including Erasmus, Rabelais, Marguerite de Navarre, and Montaigne.

FREN 527 - (3) (Y)
French Phonetics and Phonology

Not open to undergraduates who have taken FREN 427 or the equivalent. Studies the French sound system, both in theory and practice. Provides essential articulatory phonetics, distinctive features, morphophonemics, prosodics and contrastive analysis. Practice in the production, recognition, and transcription of speech sounds. Opportunity for the correction and improvement of individual problems in French pronunciation. Involves classroom and laboratory instruction.

FREN 529 - (3) (SI)
Applied Linguistics: French

A synchronic study of the structure of French to be made through a contrastive analysis of French as a target language and English as a source language. Analysis considers syntax primarily; some elements of semantics also are considered. The theoretical assumptions lead to practical procedures applicable in a teaching situation.

FREN 530, 531 - (3) (Y)
Literature of the Seventeenth Century

Studies the art forms and society during the "baroque" and "classical" periods of French literary history. Readings in theater, fiction, rhetoric, and poetry.

FREN 540, 541 - (3) (Y)
Literature of the Eighteenth Century

FREN 540: studies religious, moral, and political thinking as reflected in the works of Bayle, Fontenelle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Helvetius, and others. FREN 541: studies developing trends in traditional genres (drama, novel, poetry), as reflected in the works of Le Sage, Marivaux, Beaumarchais, Diderot, Chenier, Voltaire, Prevost, Rousseau, and others.

FREN 550, 551 - (3) (Y)
Literature of the Nineteenth Century

Studies romanticism, realism, naturalism, and symbolism. Analysis of representative texts by de Staël, Chateaubriand, Constant, Lamartine, Hugo, Vigny, Musset, Nerval, Balzac, Flaubert, Sand, Stendhal, Zola, Huysmans, Maupassant, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Mallarme.

FREN 560, 561 - (3) (Y)
Literature of the Twentieth Century

FREN 560: principal literary movements and representative authors in the novel. FREN 561: principal literary movements and representative authors in drama and poetry.

FREN 570 - (3) (O)
African Literature

Studies the principal movements and representative authors writing in French in Northern, Central, and Western Africa, with special reference to the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. Includes the literary and social history of those regions.

FREN 571 - (3) (E)
New World Literature

Studies the principal literary movements and representative authors of the French-speaking Caribbean and Canada, and the literary and social history of these regions.

FREN 580 - (3) (Y)
Civilization/Cultural Studies

Studies French culture (literature, arts, education, popular culture) from various socio-historical perspectives.

FREN 700 - (3) (O)

Required of all doctoral students unless exempted by the graduate advisor.
Studies the motivations, ideas, and methods of literary theory, criticism and historiography (including genre studies); and the materials and methods of literary research.

FREN 702 - (3) (IR)

Introduces linguistic theory with applications to pedagogical and literary studies.

FREN 704 - (1) (IR)
Theories and Methods of Language Teaching

Required for all graduate students.
Introduces the pedagogical approaches currently practiced in second-language courses at the university level. Critically examines the theories underlying various methodologies, and their relation to teaching. Assignments include development and critique of pedagogical material; peer observation and analysis; and a final teaching portfolio project.

FREN 711 - (3) (IR)
History of the French Language

Studies the development of the French language from its origin to the present day with an examination of the oldest linguistic documents. Given in French or English as appropriate.

FRTR 790 - (3) (Y)
Comparative Caribbean Culture

A comparative examination of contemporary culture in the Caribbean region with an emphasis on literature. Historical writing (essays), musical forms, and film are considered as manifestations of the process of creolization in the area. Emphasizes questions of gender, ethnic diversity, and nation-building.

FRTR 791 - (3) (Y)
Comparative Caribbean Literature

A comparative examination of postcolonialism and postmodernism in the Caribbean region, emphasizing the dynamics of center and margin. Texts are taken from the anglophone, francophone, and Hispanic Caribbean.

FREN 810 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Medieval Literature

Prerequisite: FREN 508.
a) Chansons de geste, chroniques, memories. b) Vies des saints, romans. c) Poesie non-narrative, theatre. d) Satire et humanisme.

FREN 820 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Sixteenth-Century Literature

a) Rabelais. b) Montaigne.

FREN 830 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Seventeenth-Century Literature

a) Moliere. b) Racine. c) Corneille. d) The Moralists. e) The Lyric of the early seventeenth century. f) La Fontaine. g) Contes et Nouvelles.

FREN 840 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Literature

a) Voltaire. b) Diderot. c) Theater. d) Novel. e) Rousseau. f) Marivaux.

FREN 850 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Literature

a) Flaubert. b) Zola. c) Balzac. d) Stendhal. e) Symbolist Theater. f) Naturalistic Novel. g) Musset. h) Hugo. i) Baudelaire and Nerval. j) La Decadence. k) Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarme. l) George Sand. m) Vigny.

FREN 860 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Twentieth-Century Literature

a) Proust. b) Gide. c) Theater. d) Roman-fleuve. e) Existentialism. f) New Novel. g) Valery. h) Dada and Surrealism. i) Supervielle and St. John Perse.

FREN 870 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Francophone Literature

Studies the Francophone literature of Africa, with special emphasis on post-World War II poets, novelists, and playwrights. Examines the role of cultural and literary reviews in the historical and ideological development.

FREN 880 - (3) (Y)
Selected Topics in French Civilization

Prerequisite: FREN 580 or instructor permission.
In-depth studies of cultural topics and research methodologies in French civilization.

FREN 893, 894 - (3) (Y)
Independent Study/Selected Topics in French Literature and/or Civilization

FREN 896 - (3) (Y)
Thesis Research (M.A.)

For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

FREN 897 - (3-12) (Y)
Non-Topical Research

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

FREN 997 - (3-12) (Y)
Non-Topical Research,Preparation for Doctoral Research

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

FREN 999 - (3-12) (Y)
Dissertation Research (Ph.D)

For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

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