French and Arabic
Member of the Division of Humanities
Jan Gross - Senior Faculty Status
The French department curriculum is designed to promote students’ understanding of the history, literature, and cultures of the French-speaking world, and to develop proficiency in speaking, listening comprehension, reading, and writing. Students often combine their major in French with a major in another discipline. Grinnell French majors have pursued careers in a broad range of fields including: international affairs, law, business, nonprofit work, medicine, scientific research, the arts, education, and scholarly research. French courses can be incorporated into interdisciplinary majors and concentrations such as Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; Global Development Studies; Linguistics; and Western European Studies.
All incoming students take the Grinnell placement test and, after consultation with the French department, begin their study of French at the elementary (FRN 101 , FRN 102 , FRN 103 ), intermediate (FRN 221 , FRN 222 ), or advanced level (FRN 301 , FRN 303 , FRN 304 , FRN 305 , FRN 312 , or FRN 313 ). Advanced courses explore the complexity of the French language (FRN 301 ), the cultures of the French-speaking world (FRN 303 , FRN 304 , FRN 305 ), and creative works (literature and film) in French (FRN 312 , FRN 313 ). Department seminars, which are offered every semester, cover a wide range of topics: Contemporary Urban Myths; Molière: Text and Performance; American Stories; Masculine/Feminine in French Literature and Film; May ‘68 and Beyond: A Culture of Revolt; From Decolonization to “La France plurielle”: Ethnic Identity and Change Since 1945; Courtship and Conversation in French Literature; French Poetry: The Art of Doing Things with Words; Representing the Body in Contemporary Literature and Film; Contemporary Ecologies: Environment in Literature and Film. The opportunity to carry out a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) is available as part of all seminars. All departmental courses are conducted in French.
Most French majors spend at least a semester on an approved program of study in a city such as Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Nantes, or Paris. The off-campus-study option is available to all students, even if they start their study of French at Grinnell at the elementary level.
The Grinnell Arabic program offers four semesters of instruction in Modern Standard Arabic, with a focus on both language and culture. Independent study is available at the advanced level. Many students of Arabic spend a semester on an approved program in the Middle East or North Africa. A knowledge of Arabic prepares students for careers in diplomacy, international affairs, international trade, business, nonprofit work, and education. Arabic is not offered as a major.