Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21G.346 Topics in Modern French Literature and Culture: North America Through French Eyes as it was taught by Professor Bruno Perreau in Spring 2014.

This course is a close study of history and criticism of French literature, focusing on a specific group of writers, a movement, a theme, a critical or theoretical issue, or an analytic approach.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

Gain an in-depth understanding of France’s interest in and ambivalent relationship with North American cultures since the eighteenth century using materials drawn from literature, cinema, comics, TV shows, and political debates to explore various themes.

Instructor Interview

Below, Prof. Perreau describes some aspects of the course.

The main challenge for the students and for the instructor in this course is the apparent easiness of the materials. Contrary to other classes where texts are mostly about France, most texts in this class analyze American history and cultural norms. Students thus feel immediately comfortable. However, this requires even more critical thinking for deconstructing categories which seems in the first instance so familiar. The course thus implies a high level of reflexivity. If not, students risk seeing only cultural stereotypes in the transatlantic looking-glass.

Curriculum Information


One intermediate subject in French.

Requirements Satisfied

HASS-H course


This course is taught during both spring and fall semesters, and can be repeated for credit with permission of the instructor.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 30% One oral presentation
  • 20% Weekly short-answer papers
  • 40% Individual research paper
  • 10% Class participation

Student Information


Fewer than 10 students

Breakdown by Year

Demographics for this course vary depending on year and schedule.

Typical Student Background

Students who take the course usually have four main profiles:

  • Students who hope to go to France to study or for an internship and want to be prepared with a better understanding of French culture, which is particularly salient in a class that questions both French and American cultures together. In that case, they are more often freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, depending on their level of French and the number of language classes they have attended.
  • Students back from work or study in France who wish to keep a certain connection. They are more often seniors.
  • Students who have a specific intellectual interest for transatlantic questions. They are more often graduate students in international studies, political science, philosophy, etc.
  • Students who have a francophone background and want a new experience of immersion.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class/Lecture

  • Met 2 times per week for 90 minutes per session; 22 sessions total; mandatory attendance
  • Sessions were divided between students’ presentations of weekly themes, class discussion of readings and films, and weekly analysis of topical issues

Out of Class

Students prepared readings, oral presentations, weekly papers, and an individual research paper.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014