21G.320 | Spring 2023 | Undergraduate

Introduction to French Literature


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


One intermediate subject in French.

Course Description

This course is a study of major French literary genres and an introduction to methods of literary analysis. This semester, students will be part of the jury for the Goncourt Prize USA. “Le Goncourt” is the most prestigious literary prize in France. Students will study and rank books on the Goncourt shortlist. They will elect a representative to present their selection at the Villa Albertine in New York and choose the winner along with students from Princeton, Duke, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Virginia. Meanwhile, the other students will prepare a press article to present their experience as a jury. Special attention is devoted to the improvement of French language skills. The course is taught in French.

Preselected Books

  • Giuliano da Empoli, Le Mage du Kremlin, Gallimard, 2022. ISBN: 9782073003911.
  • Brigitte Giraud, Vivre vite, Flammarion, 2022. ISBN: 978-2080207340.
  • Cloé Korman, Les Presque Soeurs, Seuil, 2022. ISBN: 9782021427646.
  • Makenzy Orcel, Une somme humaine, Rivages, 2022. ISBN: 9782743657147.
  • Pascale Robert-Diard, La Petite Menteuse, L’Iconoclaste, 2022. ISBN: 9782378802998.
  • Monica Sabalo, La Vie clandestine, Gallimard, 2022. ISBN: 9782072900457.

Grading Policy

Sessions will typically be divided between:

  • One-hour analysis of close reading of the texts
  • One-hour debate on the ranking of the book
  • One hour for other activities: students’ presentations, screenings, writing exercises, etc.

Final grade will be determined from four types of required exercises:

  • One grade will be based on one oral presentation (20%), individually or in groups (of no more than 2 students). The oral presentation will introduce one of the six preselected books, its author, structure, characters, and style issues. It will be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes per student.
  • One grade will be based on six short-answer papers (30%). It will consist of a half-page maximum answer to a question on the readings. These papers must be submitted at least 24 hours before the actual class. No exception will be made.
  • One grade will be based on writing a four-page paper (30%) that will compare the novel students presented orally with a classic piece of French literature. Students will have to introduce this novel and its author and explain why, in their opinion, the Goncourt Prize novel resonates with such a book (topic, structure, style, opinion, characters, etc.). Conducting the research work in early April is strongly suggested to have enough time to become familiar with the book. The final paper will be submitted one week before the end of classes.
  • One grade will be based on the collective writing of a five-page article (10%) in French and in English to narrate the experience of the Goncourt prize committee.
  • One grade will be based on participation (10%): the evaluation will be based on 1) attendance, 2) the demonstration that the students have done the weekly readings, 3) the demonstration that the students have watched the authors’ interviews, and 4) collegiality.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2023
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments