Inevitably, classes had to start one day! So on Jan 30th, 2006, I ventured out into the big bad world of French university classes.
The system works quite differently than what I'm used to. Each class meets once a week for 1.5 hours - that works out about the same as a 2-credit course at UVA. Some classes are either a "CM" (big lecture class), or a TD (a smaller lecture class about the size of discussion sections at UVA). However, it's not similar to a discussion class at all, because there is, well, no discussion. It doesn't really matter whether you can talk about the book or not, you just have to be able to listen and take notes. In some ways that is good, because I would rather hear someone's point of view who is an expert on the subject, not the speculations of my classmates may or may not know what they are talking about! Some classes require giving presentations once a semester, but others just require 1-2 written projects. it's intimidating that all the work is based on only a few grades!
Here's a little bit about what I'm taking...And as much as I would have loved to snap some photos of my balding profs, there are no pictures in this blog entry :(
Modern French lit - a huuuge lecture amphi filled to the brim with students. I arrived on time and had trouble finding a seat! The professor launched into a lecture about the book we were going to be reading (Rimbaud's poetry), and I struggled both to hear what she was saying and to stay awake. I went again on Thursday so I could really figure out what the prof was talking about, which was immensely helpful.
19th cent lit, Balzac and the New Opera - this one is awesome! The topic is going to be really interesting, as it's on both literature and music, and the prof is super nice to international students.
Masculin/Feminin - not exactly what I was hoping for. Turns out it's just going to be on one female poet, Desbordes-Valmore. I really wasnt wanting to study this much poetry. The prof didn't seem particularly engaging, so I think I might switch to litterature of the middle ages, if I can get the course credit.
Patrimony/French architecture - this is going to be really cool! It's an art history class on the art of preserving and remembering important French architecture/monuments, basically. We'll be learning about the historical side of Lyon (with lots of slideshows!) so I'm excited! Hey, it got me out of bed before 11am, it cant be too bad!
Modern French language - basically a grammar class, but I think it'll be really useful to me because we'll be looking at the etymologies and contexts of words - which is what I like to do when I'm analyzing something like literature.
Critical Reading - Basically a class on a book by Zola. not much to say about this one, it's your average lit class. I have to go 30 minutues out by metro/tram to get to the Bron campus where this one's located.
That's pretty much what my courses will be like, I may add/drop in order to take a translation class, but it will be like this for the rest of the semester. Oh, did I mention I don't have Friday classes ? :)