French Language, Arts, and Culture: Dark Romantics

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Spring 2020
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

literature, philosophy, and languages
Judith Gabriele square
French language
book arts, literature, creative writing

The study abroad components of this program have been cancelled. Please see the Study Abroad webpage for more information. 

This is Evergreen's French language and culture study abroad program. We will study French art history, literature, and philosophy in their social and historical contexts in order to understand the Romantic avant-garde thinkers and artists. ”Outsiders" in 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, these figures had a tenuous but fruitful dialogue with mainstream culture and the emerging popular culture of the laboring class. We will emphasize French cultural and aesthetic movements, but considered in relation to some pan-European phenomena. The era offers a figurative battlefield where art and ideology, nature and self, order and chaos locked swords, testing the limits of rational thought and the social order. French language study will be an important component of our weekly work; students will study French at one of four levels, from beginning to advanced. In the spring, students will travel to France for all or part of the quarter; students who do not wish to travel may complete an independent project and participate in a seminar with faculty and peers on campus. 

In fall, our work will begin with the writings, art, and ideas of the early and late Romantics. The Romantics privileged feeling, intuition, and empathy. Like adepts in an ancient mystery cult, they sought to commune with Nature. Romantic philosophers, from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche, spoke of Becoming rather than Being. Rejecting Classical order, clarity and restraint, they envisioned a pure art, beyond language and depiction, which speaks musically through color, passion, suggestion, and enigma, as do dreams. Our study will continue with late Romantic decadents, who pushed the Romantic temperament and aesthetic to extremes through self-parody and the aesthetic of fragmentation. As we move from Fall to Winter, we'll encounter the symbolists, poets and artists who attempted to express the inexpressible through their art. Symbolists like Mallarmé, Wilde and Yeats, Moreau and Gauguin, among others, helped prepare the "rites of spring" of the dawning 20th century, the arising vanguard of modernist and postmodern movements.

Thus, in the winter, we'll follow such eruptions to the emergence of twentieth century Existentialism, encountering the philosophical, ethical, feminist, postcolonial, and aesthetic transformation of European thought through Sartre and de Beauvoir, Camus and Beckett, and others. In spring quarter, students may pursue individual research/creative projects rooted in a sense of place on campus or may travel to France for up to 10 weeks. There they will live with a French family and study in a Rennes, Brittany, language school for three weeks, followed by cultural and historical study in Paris for the remaining weeks, with opportunities to make side trips for research of their own.

Students can expect to read many challenging works of prose and poetry along with theoretical and philosophical texts. Students will write creatively and critically in response to works of art and individualized research. Lectures, workshops, and seminars will help students to develop scholarly habits of mind, close reading and critical writing skills, and, more generally, to build an understanding of French thought as part of the dramatic changes in European culture in the 20th century.


Study abroad:

Approximately $8200 (optional) in spring quarter for students who choose to do a 10-week study abroad in France.

1.             Special Expenses: $5975  (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves to cover airfare, meals and activity expenses, and some in-country transportation and lodging)

2.             Required Student Fee: $1825   (Fee covers homestay and language school expenses, shared transport, and required activities)

3.             Administrative Fee:     $400   (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)


This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

graduate study in literature, philosophy, history and visual arts; work in international governmental and NGO organizations and businesses; publishing; and work in arts organizations and museums.


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Fall and Winter: Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
  • Spring Complete Online Learning - This offering delivers all of its instruction online.
Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, March 30, 2020 - 9:30 am
Purce Hall 3 - Lecture

Located in: Olympia

2019-11-08Study abroad costs for spring quarter updated with new costs and associated details.
2018-11-09Study Abroad information updated