Courses & Seminars

French University Courses
Courses Taken at Parisian Universities and other institutions in the past few years
VWPP Seminars at Reid Hall


Our academic program is designed to achieve three objectives. First, because we want students from all disciplines, whether they are majors in biology, history, literature, or any other field, to be able to spend a year or a semester in Paris, we provide students with access to a broad academic program offering courses in a variety of fields. Students should discuss their projected program with their advisor before they leave the United States, but they probably can take at least one course in Paris that will count towards their major(s).

Second, because we think students can learn a great deal about French people and the French educational system from taking courses at a French university, we encourage students to take two university courses, and have agreements with a number of Parisian institutions to enable our students to do so. These courses are valuable not only for their academic content, but also for the opportunity they afford students to participate in a different educational system.

Third, because American students often prefer seminar-size classes to some of the larger classes they might find in the French university system, and because French universities do not offer some of the kinds of courses on French civilization and culture that American students want to take while in Paris, we organize seminars each semester on French politics, history, art history, film, literature, and theater. Taught by outstanding French professors, these seminars are conducted entirely in French and provide students with the kind of close student-teacher contact associated with a Vassar or Wesleyan education. Many of these seminars include on-site lectures at museums and monuments, and visits to governmental institutions, concerts, films, opera, and theater performances.

Students plan their academic program in consultation with the resident director, who is a member of the Vassar or Wesleyan faculty and serves as the academic advisor for all students during their time in Paris.
The academic program has four components—the writing-intensive courses, seminars  organized at Reid Hall and French university courses. All students enroll in four courses. All students must take a writing-intensive course. They are also expected to take two French university courses. The fourth course may be chosen from the French university or the VWPP seminars.

Concurrently, all students are required to attend a weekly individual French tutoring session at Reid Hall. These “tutorats” provide added support for students’ French academic work and oral and written skills in the language.

[Back to the top]

French University Courses

Up until 1968, there was a single Parisian university, commonly known as the Sorbonne. After 1968, in response to student demands, the University of Paris was split into a number of separate universities, each with its own set of programs. Paris II, for example, is the law school; Paris V is the medical school. The original “Sorbonne” is thus split into several independent institutions and is no longer centralized in one location. Several UFR (roughly equivalent to academic departments in the US) especially at Paris IV are located in different arrondissements of Paris (for example, Philosophy and History for the 1st and 2nd years Licence is located in the 18th arrondissment near the Porte de Clignancourt). In order to provide students with a comprehensive set of course choices, the VWPP has agreements with three of the above-mentioned universities—Paris 3 (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Paris IV (La Sorbonne) and Paris 7 (Paris Diderot)— along with the Collège International de Philosophie, that permit program students to take courses there.

[Back to the top]

Courses taken at Universities and other institutions in the last few years

Cinéma: Esthétique du cinéma et de l’audiovisuel : le décor et le costume au cinéma; Mises en scène du son;  Figurer les émotions : représentations du pathos au cinéma; Écritures cinématographiques – cinéma, peinture, musique

Géographie: Géographie urbaine et rurale

Histoire: le communisme dans les états et les sociétés en europe au 20ème siècle; Histoire de l’Europe centrale et orientale; Colonisation décolonisation 19ème-20ème siècle; Histoire des Amériques noires; Afrique de l’Est et Australe et îles de l’Océan indien occidental au 20ème siècle; les sociétés de l’Afrique subsahariennes au 19ème-21ème siècle : approches par les sources (documentaires, orales…); Politiques, cultures et sociétés en europe, 19ème-20ème siècle

Philosophie : Philosophie générale

Histoire de l’Art: Art grec – l’Art grec vu par…; Art grec – Artiste ou artisan? Autour de la figue du démiourgos grec; Spécifique d’art médiéval : Byzance – La ville Théssalonique et ses environs au VIème et au XVème siècle; Études visuelles : Mariées mécaniques et filles nées sans mère. Des femmes et des robots dans l’imaginaire avant-garde; Animal studies, l’art et zoologie; Études visuelles : Éléments pour une histoire de la couleur et de ses rapports aux échelles de valeur; Vêtement et mode : Du tissu au vêtement; Vêtement et mode : Les grands tournants de l’histoire de la mode européenne XIème siècle – XXIème siècle;

Italien : Linguistique

Langues étrangères: Hébreu débutant

Français Langue Étrangère : Atelier phonétique et oral

Littérature: Transmissions littéraire – 19ème siècle, l’héroïsme en question; Littérature et musique; D’un esprit à l’autre : le discours non fictionnel au siècle des Lumières; Transmissions littéraires : le Moyen-Âge; La voix du peuple

Géographie : Géographie rurale et urbaine

Arts et médias : Théorie des arts

Psychologie: Psychopathologie; Psychanalyse; Psychologie clinique de l’adolescent; Psychologie et psychopathologie cognitive; Neuropsychologie

Droit : Grands systèmes politiques; Institutions et logiques du système politique de l’UE; Politique internationale; Construction culturelle des identités nationales

Sociologie: Rapports sociaux de sexe

Sciences du langage : La langue comme fait social

Sciences de la vie : Introduction à la médecine expérimentale; Physiologie animale et humaine : de la cellule à l’environnement; Grandes fonctions végétales

Informatique : Programmation web


[Back to the top]

VWPP Seminars at Reid Hall

Like most French university courses, the seminars and writing-intensive courses organized by the program meet once a week for two hours. Since it is program policy to limit class size, students may not be able to take all the seminars in which they would like to enroll. We will, however, make every effort to arrange a challenging and rewarding program for each participant.

The following seminars were offered in the previous semesters:

Fall 2017

The Memory of Wars in Paris and in Literary Texts
Scandal in Art: Provocations, Controversies, and the Visual Arts
The World in Performance on the Parisian Theater Stage
The Spectacle of Paris in French Cinema
The Devil in French Literature and the Arts

Spring 2017

Women, gender, sexuality, and colonialism/post-colonianism in Algeria and metropolitan France (1830-2016)
Art and Politics : The activist artist
The world in performance on the Parisian theater stage
Parisian transports : mobilities, migrations and emotions
Paris in revolutions

Fall 2016

Independent Study: Advanced French
Collective Memory in Paris and in Literary Creation
Art and Politics : The activist artist
Panorama of Contemporary Theatre
Paris in French Cinema
The Devil in French literature and the Arts
Literature and Photography: The creation of an Esthetic (20th-21st centuries)

Spring 2016

France and the Maghreb: A history of colonial and postcolonial relations
Contextual Art
Theatre in Paris: From Yesteryears to our Day
Revolutionary Paris
Literature and Journalism

Fall 2015

Independent Study
Panorama of Contemporary Theater
The Metamorphosis of the Object: Art and Anti-Art
Collective Memory in Paris and in Literary Creation
The Sexual Economy: 19th-20th Centuries
How can one be French? Identities and Polemics in France Today
Writing about France Today                                                                                                     Writing of the  Self                                                                                                                      Hideous, Dirty and Mean: Monsters in French Literature                                                        Paris in French Cinema

Spring 2015

Panorama of Contemporary Theater
The Artistic Positions of Postmodernism: Deconstruction, Discontinuity, Dematerialisation…
Women, Feminism, and Gender in France, 19th-21st centuries
Women, Feminism, Gender in France (XIXth-XXIst Centuries)
Stories and images of the French Revolution
Paris and French Literature: Places of Memory


For courses being offered in the current semester, please consult “Cours à Reid Hall” (page in French)