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Welcome & description (in Engish)

2013-14, winter session, term 2: January – April 2014
Tuesday 9:30 – 11:00 a.m., GEOG 214 MATH 202
Thursday 9:30 – 11:00 a.m., Buchanan/Arts B218


A historically-based approach to the French and Francophone world, from its origins to the Third Republic (1875). This course aims to serve as an introduction to French « culture et civilisation » and identity, and to its exploration as a subject of cultural study. It will also provide a contextual frame for the better situation and understanding of literature in French of this period in the context of social and political history, a cultural environment including the practice of everyday life, and an integrated creative and intellectual milieu: geography and maps, architecture and the urban landscape, visual and plastic arts, music, ideas, and science and technology.

In French.

One of FREN 220, FREN 221, FREN 223. Or permission of the instructor.

Materials will be online (and free), there will be no set texts from the Bookstore.


I’ll be continuing the approach my colleagues have taken with the course previously: to provide historical and cultural background, including discussion. That is in part to assist those students taking literary courses, and provide them with more contextual reference. It is also, however, aimed at a wider audience (not just French majors), and so it will be rather like an old-fashioned culture et civilisation / culture générale course. I would not only welcome but be delighted to have more students who are from outside French and literary studies: they will enrich the course.

Please note that is neither a language course nor a literature course: its content is cultural.


  • 10% = Weekly short blog posts
  • 10% = Two medium-length (500-750 word) commentaries, each in two versions, in conjunction with the FHIS Writing Centre: the first on a single object, the second comparing two or three objects. « Objects » can range from small artefacts, tools, implements, and art works; to larger items, maps, buildings, …*
  • 20% = An online portfolio: a curated collection, as a mini virtual exhibition
  • 5% = A short presentation (in class) on one object in your curated collection
  • 15% = A longer piece of writing (1500-2000 words) that expands on your presentation, on that same object in your curated collection*
  • 40% = Final examination

* = these may be submitted as written text or in audio-visual form (along with the script)


Juliet O’Brien
Office hours: t.b.a. in January, otherwise by appointment (please email)
Office: Buchanan Tower 728
She reads her email regularly on weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and should reply within 24 hours, sooner depending on the urgency of the matter.

[LAST UPDATED: 2013-12-16]