Course Spotlights

  • Left, Roman banquet scene from Herculaneum (ca. 50 BCE); right, from Bartolomeo Scappi, Opera dell’arte del cucinare (1570)
    Food for Thought ITAL 0087

    Instructor: Lorraine Denman
    Language of instruction: English, with some readings offered in both their original Italian and in translation
    Class size: 40-60 students
    Frequency: Every fall semester 

    In this class, students have the opportunity to explore Italy’s rich culinary history and the role that cuisine has played in art and culture from the Etruscan period to today. 

    We also examine how food production and distribution has influenced socio-political dynamics, where we learn about everything from court practices in Renaissance Italy, to autarchy under Mussolini, to the internationally famous Made in Italy brands found in your local grocery store.

    Finally, using approaches from the field of food studies, we also discuss contemporary issues in food and cuisine: Slow Food, organic vs. non-organic farming, biodiversity, food waste, food adulteration and fraud, and the role of organized crime in the food supply chain. 

  • Camile Claudel, La valse (1891)
    French Kiss FR 0012

    Instructor: Giuseppina Mecchia
    Language of instruction: English, with some readings offered in both their original French and in translation
    Class size: 40-60 students
    Frequency: Every fall semester 

    From Paris to the Riviera, from Tahiti to Casablanca, France and the Francophone world are ideal backdrops for exploring matters of sex and love. 

    How does sex, an integral part of human life, build expectations for our lives? What is considered a “French” approach to this issue in other countries?  We approach our theme from a historical and cultural point of view.

    Among other things, we talk about virginity, adultery, same-sex relationships, women’s sexual agency, gender definitions through sexuality and loving attachments, and the shifting boundaries of pornography. 

  • Clockwise from left: Tintin au Congo (1946), Les Nouvelles Adventures des Pieds Nickelès (1946), and Le Petit Français illustrè (1900)
    The bande dessinée FR 1018

    Instructor: Neil Doshi
    Language of instruction: French
    Class size: 15-20 students

    Considered alongside poetry and painting, to be a major art form, the French bande dessinée (graphic novel/comic book) has a large, diverse readership.

    Moving from a study of the histories of the genre–one strand of which includes American pop culture–to the consideration of contemporary publications, this course focuses on the aesthetics of the image, and discussions of the way the novels mediate the reality that they address through image and text. Students enrolled in this course both experiment with drawing and write in French regularly. No prior illustration experience is required. The reading list will include texts by Goscinny (Le tour de Gaule), Mathieu, Marc-Antoine (L’origine), and Riyad Sattouf (L’arabe du future 1).

  • Italian Translation Workshop ITAL 1092

    Instructor: Lina Insana
    Language of instruction: Italian
    Class size: 15-20 students

    Tradurre, tradire. So goes the old Italian saying: to translate is always a betrayal. What makes translation such a complicated and risky process? What, exactly, is the “betrayal” against? What does this kind of formulation tell us about how society views source texts (or “originals”) and their translation into other languages, formats, and medias? This course examines translation from both a theoretical and practical perspective, allowing students to understand the ways in which translation has been formulated, promoted, and criticized, but also giving them a laboratory for the translation of texts of various kinds and genres, including letters, oral histories, publicity materials, literature, and even film subtitles. Students in this class will move from short translation exercises to longer translation projects, culminating in a multi-piece portfolio of their translation projects, which will draw on untranslated materials from local archives and library collections. 

  • Reality (2014, dir. Quentin Dupieux)
    Introduction to French Cinema FR 0016

    Instructor: David Pettersen
    Language of instruction: French
    Class size: 20-30 students

    Students in this course have the chance to see several of the films that made and continue to make French cinema famous, from the arrival of sound in the early 1930s to the present. Along the way, students have the opportunity to learn and practice the skills of cinema literacy, that is the basic vocabulary and concepts for thinking, talking, and writing about cinema. These analytical skills help students grasp what’s distinctive about French cinema and how it differs from other national cinemas. Issues we consider include how films are produced and distributed; how the camera, lighting, and editing work in concert to create different kinds of film experience; how sound and image relate; how we might distinguish between different kinds of cinema such as narrative, documentary, and animated films; and how films engage with the social, historical, and cultural moments in which they were made. 

  • French Theatrical Workshop FR 1023

    Instructor: Kaliane Ung
    Language of instruction: French
    Class size: 15-20 students

    In this workshop, we use theatre and performance to improve your ability to interact in French, through the studying and staging of Molière's L'Ecole des femmes, which themes resonate with our post-#MeToo world. In this seventeenth-century comedy, old Arnolphe chooses to bring up a young girl according to his own principles in order to marry her, without the risk of being cheated on, or so he thinks... After textual and historical analyses, we discuss the stakes of L'Ecole des femmes and strategies to adapt the play for a contemporary audience. Weekly exercises involve writing, reading, voice recording, improvising, dancing, singing, discussing, critiquing, directing, all of this in French. Students prepare short scenes individually and in groups, design a set and arrange costumes and props. Our work together leads to a performance at the end of the semester.

    The class works as a troupe, with a role for everyone (cast & crew)! 

    Come and make memories in French! Taught in French.

  • Nathan Never Comic
    Sci-Fi Italian Style ITAL 1060

    InstructorAlberto Iozzia
    Language of instructionItalian
    Class size15-20 students

    Through the analysis of short stories, comic books, novels, and films, we explore the main aspects and the most relevant themes of Italian Science Fiction. We see how the Italian contribution to the genre is neither new nor marginal, and we contextualize it within its global and transnational framework.

    Students discover how some popular imagery of Sci-Fi dates back to the classics of Italian literature (Ariosto, Bruno), and how major Italian authors of the 20th Century have chosen to use science fiction in their work, preferring it for its great lyricism or for its allegoric potential. We read works from prominent authors (Buzzati, Levi, Calvino) and appreciate wonderful pages of less known authors (Horrakh, Lorenzini). We get acquainted with Italian comics and graphic novels (Recchioni, Serra) and we analyze film sequences from Italian Sci-Fi movies.

    We travel the entire history of Italian science-fiction, taking into consideration its sources and models, and pondering why, to this day, we are inclined to think of Roswell, New Mexico as a more likely landing site for extraterrestrials than Rome, Italy.

  • Paris: Urbanism Past and Present FR 0017

    Instructor: Brett Wells
    Language of instruction: English, with optional one-credit French language discussion rider
    Class size: 25-30 students
    Frequency: Every spring semester

    When the French want to say that all great projects take time, they say "Paris ne s'est pas fait en un jour." (Paris, [not Rome!] wasn't built in a day.)  In this course, we see why their reference, while seemingly self-centered, is nevertheless very true!  It is also revealing, because the proverb illustrates how Paris has functioned and continues to function as a "center" in many different ways.

    French 0017 explores the City of Light's past and present both as an urban center and as an idea that has shaped politics, society and the arts all over the world. In the first part of the course we retrace Paris' evolution from a rebellious little Gaulish settlement on two islands in the Seine River to a sprawling 21st-century world metropolis.  This historical analysis leads us to the second part of the course where focus is on the French capital in 2020 and beyond.  Some questions we ask are: what role does Paris play as a model city?  How does its present geography and demography come to bear on the French state, the European Union and the international community?  How does Paris as an idea continue to influence politics, economics, fashion, the arts and romance?