French 301 in ADMN-212 (MWF 12:30-1:35): Composition and Conversation

Prof: Mark Jensen
Office: ADMN-220
Phone: (253) 535-7219
Web page:
Office hours: M 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m., W 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m., F 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Held in my office, except W 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. in the Satellite Language Research Center on the first floor of Hong International Hall.


Required purchase:


Course goals

This course initiates a sequence that terminates with French 302.

All work in this class will be in French—well, virtually all—there will be infrequent exceptions like this syllabus. But ideally, all communication will be in French (or at least franglais). You will endear yourself to the instructor if you help to make the classroom a French-language zone (une zone de langue française) where use of other languages is, if the expression is not too unfriendly, a less-than-welcome an intrusion, except, of course, in unusual circumstances (earthquakes, terrorist attacks, asteroid impacts, etc.).

The goals of French 301 are goals that are self-evident: 1) mastery elements of grammar that you've been working with now for years; 2) extension of your vocabulary in French in a systematic fashion, with the same end in view, learning to avoid faux amis and talk not about les nouvelles but rather l'actualité or les actualités, and say en fait when you mean acutally and not actuellement; 3) to enhance, in other words, your ability to speak and write effectively in ways that French-speaking people might really use; (4) to gain deeper insights into the structure not only of the French language but of language itself, with attention to phonetics, the way the sociolinguistic register of your communications affects pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar; 5) to deepen your understanding of the cultural, social, and intellectual dimensions of communication in French.

Second, French 301 seeks to give you insights into the background and values of Francopohone cultures, especially French culture, through the study of film, theater, and literature.

Third, the teacher of this course would find it personally gratifying to see you : 1) become better able to analyze and compare ideas and opinions, both your own and those of others; 2) deepen and complicate your relationship to cultural conventions through investigation of and discussion of imaginative works, with attention to genre, history, and the evolution of ideas; and 3) challenge intellectually assumptions — your own and those of others —, reflect upon different perspectives, evaluate and explain different viewpoints on complex issues, and defend judgments. Intensive work with the French language at this now fairly advanced level should give you new perspectives on your own native language and will often stimulate reflection on language itself. If you succeed in achieving all of this, you will have demonstrated such intellectual probity and academic virtue and may proceed directly to Go and collect $200.

In the fourteen weeks of this course, you will 1) work through the first half of a rigorous presentation of French grammar at an advanced level ; 2) study a classic French film (Les parapluies de Cherbourg), a recent French play, (Le dieu du carnage), and read Candide, by Voltaire. Along the way, you will acquaint yourself both with some of the optics of the French way of looking at the world and its relation to other cultures.

Activities in class will vary, albeit in a monotonous yet reassuringly predictable weekly fashion.

Mondays will begin with a half-hour devoted to linguistic matters (phonetics and sociolinguistics), then proceed to the grammatical material for the week. You'll be assigned pages to study in the grammar text in preparation for the class. On most weeks—weeks of special delight for every student as well as anticipation for the instructor himself—a meticulously prepared short written composition (or, on the following week, the attempted correction of the previous week's now discouragingly and spider-webbily red- or green- or purple- or blue-inked composition) will be also be due in class.

Wednesdays will be devoted to further laborious and baffling explanation, exploration, and exploitation of French grammar, usually with additonal attention to group work, occasionally including entertaining performances, amusing games, or diverting class presentations.

Fridays (le vendredi ! enfin ! merci Dieu ! ) will be devoted to works of literature or film. The works we'll look at in detail this semester are quite diverse in their origins: a charmingly quirky fusion of opera and New Wave film from the 1960s and a 1991 film about Jacques Demy, the man who made it, a fresh new play by the Iranian-born hit playwright Yasmina Reza, the first French dramatist to attain international celebrity in some years, and Voltaire's amusing, fast-paced, and sophisticated satire of philosophical optimism and human pretention, which is as irresistibly sassy, bold, irreverent and dangerous as anything Wikileaks ever published.

Class schedule

Wed., Sept. 8 (12:30 p.m.) : Introductions and what sociologist Erving Goffman would call presentations of self. Discussion of course, study methods, and expectations for the course—yours and mine. Some English, for the sake of clarity.

Fri., Sept. 10 : (1) First part of Les parapluies de Cherbourg, a film by Jacques Demy. (2) Fournier, Le mot et l'idée, I, §§ 8-11. (Review §§ 1-7 as well, and also do this for every subsequent "chapter" in Fournier as you work through the book.) Look up words you don't know in a good dictionary (see below on what I mean by this vague expression). (3) Read the preface in Denise Rochat's grammar textbook.

Mon., Sept. 13 : (1) Levels of language study: phonetics, syntax, semantics, discourse; sociolinguistics; historical linguistics. (2) Rochat, Chapter 1, Le présent de l'indicatif, pp. 1-6. (3) Fournier, II, §§ 11-16.

Wed., Sept. 15 : Rochat, Chapter 1, L'impératif, pp. 6-9. (2) Fournier, III, §§ 7-10.

Fri., Sept. 17 : Conclusion of Les parapluies de Cherbourg (2) Fournier, IV, §§ 8-11.

Mon., Sept. 20 : (1) The International Phonetic Alphabet. (2) Rochat, Chapter 2, Les articles, pp. 10-20. (3) Fournier, V, §§ 5-7.

Wed., Sept.. 22 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 2, Quantités, préparations et substances ; Omission de l'article, pp. 20-29. (2) Fournier, VI, §§ 7-10.

Fri., Sept. 24 : First part of Jacquot de Nantes, a 1991 film by Agnès Varda about Jacques Demy. (2) Fournier, VII, §§ 7-9.

Mon., Sept. 27 : (1) Phonetic transcription. (2) Rochat, Chapter 3, Les pronoms objets directs et indirects ; les pronoms y et en, pp. 30-43. (3) Fournier, VIII, §§ 6-8.

Wed., Sept. 29 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 3, Place des pronoms, pp. 43-49. (2) Fournier, IX, §§ 5-6.

Fri., Oct. 1 : (1) Second part of Jacquot de Nantes. (2) Fournier, X, §§ 6-8.

Mon., Oct. 4 : (1) Register & pronunciation: Batchelor & Offord, Using French, A Guide to Contemporary Usage, 2nd ed. (1993), pp. 1-12, and Richard Durán & George McCool, "If This Is French, Then What Did I Learn in School?", The French Review 77.2 (December 2003), 288-98. (2) Rochat, Chapter 4, Les pronoms disjoints, pp. 50-60. (3) Fournier, XI, §§ 6-8.

Wed., Oct. 6 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 4, Formes des pronoms dans certaines constructions idiomatiques, pp. 60-64. (2) Fournier, XII, §§ 5-6.

Fri., Oct. 8 : (1) Yasmina Reza, Le dieu du carnage, first half (to "Michel referme le catalogue . . ." (2) Fournier, XIII, §§ 8-11.

Mon., Oct. 11 : (1) Register, vocabulary and grammar: Bachelor & Offord, Using French, pp. 12-19. (2) Rochat, Chapter 5, Les démonstratifs variables, pp. 65-69. (3) Fournier, XIV, §§ 7-9.

Wed., Oct. 13 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 5, Les démonstratifs invariables, pp. 69-75. (2) Fournier, XV, §§ 7-9.

Fri., Oct. 15 : (1) Second half of Reza, Le dieu du carnage. (2) Fournier, XVI, §§ 5-6.

Mon., Oct. 18 : (1) Fournier, XVII, §§ 8-11. (2) Midterm review.

Wed., Oct. 20 : The long-dreaded but no longer avoidable MIDTERM EXAM!

Fri., Oct. 22 : No class — Mid-semester break.

Mon., Oct. 25 : (1) Register, examples 1 & 2: Batchelor & Offord, Using French, pp. 19-23. (2) Rochat, Chapter 6, L'interrogation direct, pp. 76-80. (3) Fournier, XVIII, §§ 4-5.

Wed., Oct. 27 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 6, L'interrogation partielle, pp. 81-90. (2) Fournier, XIX, §§ 6-8.

Fri., Oct. 29 : (1) Voltaire, Candide, chapitres 1-8, and prepare answers to questions. (2) Fournier, XX, §§ 5-7.

Mon., Nov. 1 : (1) Register, examples 3 & 4: Batchelor & Offord, Using French, pp. 23-26. (2) Rochat, Chapter 8, La négation (i), pp. 100-08. (3) Fournier, XXI §§ 7-9.

Wed., Nov. 3 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 8, La négation (ii), pp. 109-12. (2) Fournier, XXII, §§ 5-6.

Fri., Nov. 5 : (1) Voltaire, ch. 9-15, and prepare answers to questions. (2) Fournier, XXIII, §§ 5-6.

Mon., Nov. 8 : (1) Register, examples 5 & 6: Batchelor & Offord, Using French, pp. 26-29. (2) Rochat, Chapter 9, Le passé de l'indicatif, pp. 113-22. (3) Fournier, XXIV, §§ 5-6.

Wed., Nov. 10 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 9, Le récit au passé, pp. 122-27. (2) Fournier, XXV, §§ 7-9.

Fri., Nov. 12 : (1) Voltaire, ch. 16-20. (2) Fournier, XXVI §§ 9-12.

Mon., Nov. 15 : (1) Presentation of passages analyzed for register (i). (2) Rochat, Chapter 11, Le futur, pp. 142-48. (3) Fournier, XXVII, §§ 5-7.

Wed., Nov. 17 : (1) Barson, Chapter 11, Le conditionnel, pp. 148-54. (2) Fournier, XXVIII, §§ 9-12.

Fri., Nov. 19 : (1) Voltaire, ch. 21-25, and prepare answers to questions. (2) Fournier, XXIX, §§ 8-11.

Mon., Nov. 22 : (1) Presentation of passages analyzed for register (ii). (2) Rochat, Chapter 12, Le subjonctif, §§ 1-8, pp. 155-62. (3) Fournier, XXX, §§ 10-14.

Wed., Nov. 24 : Recent French popular music: Christophe Maé and MC Solaar.

Fri., Nov. 26 : Thanksgiving break.

Mon., Nov. 29 : (1) Presentation of passages analyzed for register Les pronoms relatifs simples, pp. 205-14. (3) Fournier, XXXI, §§ 11-16.

Wed., Dec. 1 : (1) Rochat, Chapter 16, Les pronoms relatifs composés, pp. 214-16. (2) Fournier, XXXII, §§ 9-12.

Fri., Dec. 3 : (1) Voltaire, ch. 26-30, and prepare answers to questions. (2) Fournier, XXXIII, §§ 12-17.

Mon., Dec. 6 : (1) Le monde francophone. (2) Rochat, Chapter 19, Le comparatif, pp. 255-62. (3) Fournier, XXXIV, §§ 7-10.

Wed., Dec. 8 : Rochat, Chapter 19, Le superlatif, pp. 262-67. (2) Fournier, XXXV, §§ 7-10.

Fri., Dec. 10 : (1) Final review.

Workbook schedule

The workbook exercises in the second edition of Workbook for Contrastes : Grammaire du français courant should be turned in on the dates indicated below. For certain particularly hefty exercise sets, a number of exerices are optional, in recognition of the fact that you have more other things to do in your life besides doing French exercises. Your skipping these will not affect your grade, but since they are still worth doing, do them and turn them if you can find the time. (NOTE: I would prefer you write out the answers to the exercises in complete sentences and turn them in on notebook paper, rather than filling in the blanks; doing it this way is more conducive to learning. But I'll also accept torn-out workbook pages.)

Wed., Sept. 15. Turn in exercises 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, and 1-6 (pp. 1-4).

Fri., Sept. 17. Turn in exercises 1-7, 1-8, 1-9, and 1-10 (pp. 4-7).

Wed., Sept. 22. Turn in exercises 2-1, 2-2, 2-3. 2-4, 2-5, 2-6, 2-7, 2-8, 2-9, 2-10, 2-11 (optional), 2-12 (optional), 2-13 (optional), 2-14, 2-15, and 2-17 (optional) (pp. 9-16).

Fri., Sept. 24. Turn in exercises 2-18, 2-19, 2-20, 2-21, 2-22, 2-23, 2-24, 2-25, 2-26 (optional), 2-27, and 2-28 (optional) (pp. 17-22).

Wed., Sept. 29. Turn in exercises 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 3-5 (optional), 3-6, 3-7 (optional), 3-8, 3-9, 3-10 (optional), 3-11, and 3-12 (pp. 23-28).

Fri., Oct. 1. Turn in exercises 3-13, 3-14, 3-15, 3-16, 3-17, 3-18, and 3-19 (pp. 29-32).

Wed., Oct. 6. Turn in exercises 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6 (pp. 33-36).

Fri., Oct. 8. Turn in exercises 4-7, 4-8, 4-9, 4-10, 4-11, 4-12, 4-13, 4-14 (pp. 37-41).

Wed., Oct. 13. Turn in exercises 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, and 5-6 (pp. 43-46).

Fri., Oct. 15. Turn in exercises 5-7, 5-8, 5-9, 5-10, 5-11, and 5-12 (pp. 46-49).

Wed., Oct. 27. Turn in exercises 6-1 and 6-2 (pp. 51-52).

Fri., Oct. 29. Turn in exercises 6-3, 6-4, 6-5, 6-6, 6-7, 6-8, 6-9, 6-10, 6-11, 6-12 (optional), 6-13 (optional), 6-14 (optional), and 6-15 (optional) (pp. 53-59).

Wed., Nov. 3. Turn in exercises 8-1, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4, 8-5, 8-6, 8-7, and 8-8 (pp. 71-74).

Fri., Nov. 5. Turn in exercises 8-9, 8-10, 8-11, 8-12, 8-13, 8-14, 8-15, and 8-16 (pp. 75-78).

Wed., Nov. 10. Turn in exercises 9-1, 9-2, 9-4, 9-5, 9-7, 9-8, 9-9, 9-10 (optional), 9-11, and 9-12 (optional) (pp. 79-86).

Fri., Nov. 12. Turn in exercises 9-13, 9-15, 9-16, 9-17, and 9-18 (optional) (pp. 87-94).

Wed., Nov. 17. Turn in exercises 11-1, 11-2, 11-3, and 11-4 (pp. 111-12).

Fri., Nov. 19. Turn in exercises 11-8, 11-9, 11-10, 11-11, 11-13, 11-14, 11-15. 11-16, 11-17 (optional), and 11-18 (optional) (pp. 114-18).

Wed., Nov. 24. Turn in exercises 12-1, 12-2, 12-3, 12-4, 12-5, 12-6, 12-7, 12-8, 12-9 (optional), 12-10 (optional), 12-11 (optional), and 12-12 (optional) (pp. 121-25).

Wed., Dec. 1. Turn in exercises 16-1, 16-2, 16-3, 16-4, 16-5, 16-6, 16-7, 16-8, 16-9, 16-10, 16-11, and 16-12 (pp. 165-70).

Fri., Dec. 3. Turn in exercises 16-13, 16-14, 16-15, 16-16 (optional), 16-17 (optional), 16-18, 16-19, 16-20, 16-21, and 16-22 (optional) (pp. 171-76).

Wed., Dec. 8. Turn in exercises 19-1, 19-2, 19-3, 19-4, and 19-5 (pp. 201-03).

Fri., Dec. 10. Turn in exercises 19-6, 19-7, and 19-8 (pp. 204-05).

Schedule of compositions

NOTE: The first drafts of these compositions are due in class (no email submissions accepted) on the day indicated. The final, corrected version is due in class one week later. Compositions should be at least 400 words in length. Double-space and leave margins on all sides of at least one inch (2.54 centimeters).

Mon., Sept. 20 : Les parapluies de Cherbourg. Evaluez le rôle de la musique dans Les parapluies de Cherbourg. Quelle est son importance dans le film? Comment avez-vous réagi à cet aspect musical? Y a-t-il des moments dans le film où le chant et la musique sont particulièrement réussis ? Par contre, y a-t-il des moments où la musique est gênante ?

Mon., Oct. 4 : Jacquot de Nantes. Comment est-ce que ce film est différent du cinéma typique de Hollywood ? Choisissez quelques aspects inhabituels du film et discutez-les. Qu'est-ce qu'on peut deviner à propos des intentions d'Agnès Varda, la cinéaste, en faisant le film ?

Mon., Oct. 18 : Le dieu du carnage. Identifiez les aspects de la vie contemporaine auxquels Yasmina Reza s'intéresse particulièrement.

Mon., Nov. 1 : Candide. Analysez les deux premiers paragraphes du chapitre 3. Discutez : (1) l'ironie ; (2) le sarcasme ; (3) la musique ; (4) les horreurs de la guerre ; et (5) le ton du passage.

Mon., Nov. 15 : Candide. Écrivez sur l'Eldorado, tel qu'il figure dans les chapitres 17-18 de Candide. Quels aspects du monde sont renversés dans la description de ce pays utopique ? Selon vous, est-ce que le but Voltaire est de décrire une forme de société qu'il croit possible et réalisable, ou est-ce que son but est plutôt satirique ? Justifiez votre réponse.

Calculation of grades

Your grade will be determined as follows:

  • 20% Participation
  • 20% Workbook exercises
  • 20% Five compositions
  • 10% Twelve vocabulary pop quizzes, of which only the top eight scores count
  • 10% Midterm exam
  • 20% Final exam

  • Comments on each of these components:

  • Class participation. Faithful attendance and diligent participation are just about essential. Your attendance and participation, both in class and in individual meetings, will affect your grade. I will evaluate your participation as follows. Your presence and participation in class will be evaluated after every class. You will receive either 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 for each class. Zero means you were absent; 1 means either that you arrived noticeably late, or did not bring needed materials, or could otherwise not participate; 2 means that you were present but scarcely participated, or were not adequately prepared; 3 means that you participated minimally in class activities; and 4 means that you appeared to be well prepared and made adequate efforts at communicating in French. At the end of the course the average of these scores will be laboriously calculated, and 20% of your grade will be determined by the result, on a conventional 4-point scale.
  • Workbook exercises. The workbook exercises should be handed in on the date indicated in class, or placed in my mailbox before 5:00 p.m. should you need to be absent that day. Lateness will affect your grade, and workbook exercises more than a week late will not be accepted.
  • Compositions. Compositions should be handwritten, double-spaced or triple-spaced, with ample margins on all sides of the page. They will be handed back with partial corrections for revision, the revision will be due on Monday of the following week.
  • Vocabulary pop quizzes. Fournier's Le mot et l'idée is being integrated into French 201, 202, 301, and 302 as a way of systematically reviewing vocabulary. You should learn the meanings of the words in the sections indicated. You should also read the exemplary sentences for these sections. The sentences for each section constitute a mini-essay, or sometimes a pathetically unimaginative and boring story, vignette, or sketch. Tests may ask questions about the particulars of this essay or story as well as test your knowledge of vocabulary, so you should review earlier sentences as well. — Online dictionaries are not very reliable. You should consider purchasing a good French-English or English-French dictionary of 750-1000 pages, like the Larousse Concise Dictionary: French-English/English-French, rev. ed. (2004). Smaller 300-500 page "pocket" dictionaries are not recommended for the purposes of this course. NOTE: In addition, the following dictionaries are not recommended: Cassell's French & English Dictionary (any edition); Larousse Student Dictionary: French-English/English-French/ Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary (any edition); Webster's French-English Dictionary; Webster's New World French Dictionary: French/English English/French. Larger 1200-2000 page dictionaries like the Larousse College Dictionary: French-English/English-French, the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary or the Collins-Robert Unabridged French-English English-French Dictionary are also appropriate for third- and fourth-year French courses. Believe me. I am telling you the truth. FURTHER NOTES: Fournier's Le mot et l'idée is not only a list of words but a bizarre portrait of traditional French culture that reflects many of prejudices of conventional and reactionary bourgeois society of a generation ago. Like many other volumes of its vintage, it is designed not only to teach language but to reinforce the values of the prevailing power structure. Let's find ways to subvert it, O.K.? — By the way, while working with vocabulary, try typing the French word you're studying into the Google images search page. The results can be instructive and/or ROFL hilarious!
  • Comprehensive tests. There will be a mid-term exam on Friday, Oct. 20, which will cover chapters 1-5 in Rochat, the two films we've watched, and Yasmina Reza's Le dieu du carnate, which will determine 10% of your grade. A final exam on Mon., Dec. 13, at 1:00 p.m. will determine 20% of your final grade.

Academic Integrity:
PLU's expectation is that students will not cheat or plagiarize, and that they will not condone these behaviors or assist others who plagiarize. This includes the use of machine translation in the preparation of assignments. Academic misconduct not only jeopardizes the career of the individual student involved, but also undermines the scholastic achievements of all PLU students and attacks the mission of this institution. Students are inherently responsible to do their own work, thereby insuring the integrity of their academic records.

Respectful and Civil Conduct:
"Civil conversation is central to the university's academic enterprise and centrally guided by faculty expertise. [The university] is committed to protecting the rights of community members to engage in dialogue and express ideas in an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination, and exploitation. This freedom of expression does not, however, entail the freedom to threaten, stalk, intimidate, harass, or abuse. Students are therefore expected to treat every individual with respect and civility." (Student Code of Conduct, p. 12)

Accomodations for Sudents with Disabilities:
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. If you have questions concerning the services available for students with disabilities at PLU, please contact the Office of Disability Support Services, x7206.


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