Courses available in French


Tout est dit, et l'on vient trop tard.

—La Bruyère

French 180A: French Civilization — Fantastic Voyages, Fantastic Spaces in French Medieval Literature

The Middle Ages are not typically thought of as an age of exploration and discovery. Nevertheless, the period from the 11th to the 15th centuries saw the development of vast new routes of trade and pilgrimage, major migrations of people, and the emergence of aggressively expansionist political states. The series of conflicts known as the Crusades transformed the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean world, resulting in an unprecedented exchange of knowledge, technology and culture, often through violent means.

This course will approach larger issues of cultural and national identity by examining the themes of travel and encounter with the other—both real and imagined—in medieval French texts. These include the proto-nationalist epic, La Chanson de Roland, the crusade chronicles of Joinville, and the fabulous travel narrative of Marco Polo, as well as medieval maps, manuscripts and other historical documents. At the same time, we will ask how fictional descriptions of travel and fantastic spaces in the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes, the faux-historical Roman d’Alexandre, and Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, might reflect historical anxieties and aspirations during this crucial period of transition. This class will be taught in French.


French 102 or consent of instructor.

Additional information: 

By exception for Spring 2013 only, this course satisfies one “Literatue”, one “Culture” or one  “Elective” requirement in the French major. Course also satisfies one Historical Period Requirement in French Major.  This course satisfies the College of Letters and Science breadth requirement in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes