French Language, Arts, and Culture: Dark Romantics

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Spring 2020
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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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.



Enrollment Conditions

This program does not accept new enrollment in spring.

Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10095
Winter 2020 Registration

Students joining the program will need to complete reading assignments (tbd). Please contact the faculty ( and in order to be prepared for the first week in Winter.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20035
Spring 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 30005

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers 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.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Remote (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Purce Hall 3 - Lecture
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)



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