The web design projects were made for a 2009 course on Contemporary France. In this course, we read Lawrence Wylie and Jean-François Brière's textbook, Les Français (Prentice Hall, 2001). While we love the book, it covers some material that is so contemporary it is continually going out of date. Our challenge to the students was to update the textbook by providing contemporary information and analysis on key themes covered in the course. The idea was to go into more detail than is available in the average textbook, but to present it in plainer French than is available in most primary sources. Our target audience was/is high school teachers and their students. In each group, students wrote an individual essay relating to the theme, then presented their essays on an original website with a synthetic introduction linking the essays and any ancillary materials they wanted to include. I taught this course in collaboration with Janet Horne and Pierre Dairon. Link to course website
The film papers were created in my Fall 2006 class, Introduction to French Cinema, at the University of Virginia. Students presented their class papers in an electronic format that allows readers to view the passages cited in the text while reading the paper. This format overcomes the "memory problem" that is inherent in written communication about music and film, that is, that the writer must remind the viewer of the scene or music because no complete citation is possible. The electronic format allows for complete and direct citation, providing a new experience for the reader of the article. S/he can revisit the visual and aural citations while immersed in the writer's argument, thus experiencing the depth of the analysis far more richly and fully. Link to course website
In this class, students learn about the history of the city as well as about representations of the city in 19th-and 20th-century art and literature. Their goal is to become "insiders," to know enough about the city to be able to navigate beyond the tourist level. In the writing assignment, they created an online journal with articles written for others like themselves, curious travelers who would like to go beyond the tourist experience. Each student wrote an article, and the articles are accessible through an interactive map of Paris.
Creative Writing Workshop
The creative writing blog comes from a course with the official title of "Advanced Grammar and Composition." It is our fifth semester of language instruction, the first course required for the major and the first part of the two-semester transitional sequence that leads to the literature, film, and culture courses in the department. I find that teaching it as a creative writing workshop is more fun for me and the students. We cover just as much grammar as we ever did in the old version, but it is framed in terms of the goal of developing self-expression and an individual voice in French. We write a lot in class and students publish their finished work to a class blog. All assignments work towards the ultimate goal of creating an original short story in French at the end. The course is usually organized around a theme; recently, we've been working with the writing workshop organized by François Bon and published on the site of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France: "Ecrire la ville" [Writing the City.] That explains the title of our blog. Link to course website
France and the Empire in Film
One of the central themes in this course was the idea of "regards croisés" between France and the empire/former empire., expressed through film. Link to course website. At the end of the course, after completing a traditional research paper, students are invited to explore the world of visual/textual expression from the point of view of a practitioner. They make a film, write a script, create a storyboard, or find some other audiovisual way to engage with some of the central questions, themes, films, and texts analyzed in the course.