French and Arabic
Member of the Division of Humanities
Susan Ireland - Senior Faculty Status
The French curriculum is designed to develop students’ understanding of the history, literature, and cultures of the French-speaking world, and to give students the linguistic proficiency to have meaningful interaction with French-speaking communities. All courses are taught in French and focus either on a particular site (such as the history of Paris), a particular historical era (such as the Renaissance, or the German Occupation) or a particular issue (such as colonialism and decolonization). Students are encouraged to spend a semester abroad on one of the approved programs in France or Africa. French majors frequently combine their study with another discipline or interdisciplinary concentration. Alumni with French majors have pursued careers in a broad range of fields including international affairs, law, business, medicine, scientific research, the arts, education, and nonprofit organizations.
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: Social Climbers and Rebels in the Ancien Régime; Masculine/Feminine in French Literature and Film; The Francophone Caribbean World: From Plantation to Emancipation; Courtship and Conversation in French Literature; Innovation and Transgression in French from 1870 to 1945; and Contemporary Ecologies: Environment in Literature and Film. The opportunity to carry out a research project is available for all advanced students.
The Grinnell Arabic program offers four semesters of instruction in Modern Standard Arabic, with a focus on both language and culture. Students can continue their study of Arabic at the advanced level through independent study projects led by a faculty member. While students cannot major in Arabic, Arabic courses count toward fulfillment of the requirements for the interdisciplinary concentration in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia (SAMESA).
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.