Syllabus: HUM 310

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Culture(/s) of France

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What is (or was) "French"? Is there (or was there ever) a "culture" of France? And how to make sense of the cultural differences between the French and other groups, such as Americans--broadly defined?

After examining France and the French as they are today (and also might have been in the past), successful students should better be able to:

  • recognize the cultural hurdles to understanding the French, the rich context that forms and continues to problematize Frenchness, and the ways in which cultures can be misinterpreted and better revealed;
  • appreciate the humanistic implications of focusing on a country and culture and the way in which relationships between various areas can provide perspective on knowledge;
  • comprehend the value of questioning and learning through synthesis;
  • gather, evaluate, interpret, and apply information to situations beyond the classroom; and
  • evaluate data and place it within the broad context of French culture--whether entrenched, emerging, gender- and/or diversity-based.

In keeping with Cal Poly's learning objectives, successful students should also better be able to:

  • think critically and creatively;
  • communicate effectively;
  • work productively as individuals and in groups;
  • use their knowledge and skills to make a positive contribution to society; and
  • make reasoned decisions based on an understanding of ethics and a respect for diversity.

Required Texts

Bernstein, Richard. Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French

Carroll, Raymonde. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience

Platt, Polly. French or Foe? Getting the Most out of Visiting, Living and Working in France

Schedule

4 January: The Imaginary Country (Bernstein); copy for those awaiting book

5 January: The Miracle of the Whole; The Persistence of the Parts (Bernstein); French Tourist Office; copy for those awaiting book

6 January: Villages; Paris the Conqueror (Bernstein); "Paris, Living Space" (video); copy for those awaiting book

7 January: Home; Conversation (Carroll)

11 January: Parents and Children; The Couple (Carroll)

12 January: Six Codes; French Space (Platt)--This may be assigned for discussion on Blackboard, TBA

13 January: French Time; Street Strangers and Neighborhood Tradespeople (Platt)

14 January: Class Canceled (Mandatory Furlough)

19 January: Class Canceled ( Mandatory Furlough)

20 January: Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis

21 January: Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis; Paper 1 Due

25 January: Blood, Names, and Identity; The R5 and Other Complexes (Bernstein)

26 January: Gallic Shrugs and Other Supposed Imperfections; The Myth of the Anti-American (Bernstein)

27 January: Friendship; The Telephone (Carroll)

28 January: 'Minor Accidents'; Obtaining Information (Carroll)

1 February: Misery in the Big Stores; Blame Paranoia (Platt)

2 February: You and the Bureaucracy; History Matters (Platt); Extras

3 February: Jews, Arabs, and Other 'Foreigners'; In Praise of Frivolity (Bernstein)

4 February: La Haine

8 February: La Haine

9 February: The French Family; School Days (Platt); Question and Answer Session with Cal Poly French Exchange Students Nicolas Laine and David Follet

10 February: The Grandes Ecoles; The Music of Their Tongue (Platt)

11 February: Class Canceled ( Mandatory Furlough)

16 February: Class Canceled ( Mandatory Furlough)

17 February: The Revenge of the Bourgeoisie; The Noble Residue (Bernstein), Extras

18 February: Elegance and Anarchy; A Contentious Solidarity (Bernstein)

22 February: Plaisir; Two Dinner Parties (Platt); Paper 2 Due

23 February: The Logic of French Management; Tricky Wickets (Platt)

24 February: Ressources humaines

25 February: Ressources humaines

1 March: Class Canceled ( Mandatory Furlough)

2 March: A Country Cut in One; The Sardonic Worship of the Political Class (Bernstein)

3 March: The Way to Power; Above the Laws of the Republic (Bernstein), Extras

4 March: Executive Roundup; How the French See the U.S.; Coda (Platt), Entre les murs

8 March: The Shadowy Paths of Grandeur; Gaullists and Bonapartists, Presidents and Kings (Bernstein), Entre les murs

9 March: Entre les murs

10 March: Entre les murs

11 March: Class Canceled ( Mandatory Furlough)

19 March: Final Examination (Identifications), 4:10-7:00 p.m.; Final Examination (Essay) Due, 7:00 p.m.