French (FREN) 421

Le roman français du 19e siècle (Revision 1)

FREN 421 course image

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: FREN 358 or other 3rd Year French Literature courses and professor approval.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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FREN 421 is not available for challenge.

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FREN 421 is designed for students who intend to major in French or to graduate in Education with French as a teaching subject. This course is also vital to those who intend to pursue translation as a profession and those aspiring towards a higher degree (MA) in French Studies. It introduces students to the 19th-Century French novel through the study of Eugénie Grandet (Honoré de Balzac), François le champi (George Sand) and Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert). What is innovative and of contemporary appeal is the inclusion of George Sand (the only woman novelist) in this course on the French novel as students need to know of the existence of feminine (perhaps 'feminist') literature in France nearly a century before the word 'feminism' found a place in the French dictionary. The more enthusiastic student will nonetheless be able to explore references made to other contemporary novelists and writers such as Chateaubriand, Stendhal, Hugo, Maupassant and Zola. FREN 358 is the normal pre-requisite for FREN 421.

PLEASE NOTE: This course is given entirely in FRENCH.


FREN 421 consists of 16 lessons divided into 5 Modules, namely:

  • Module I : Introduction
  • Module II: George Sand – François le Champi
  • Module III: Honoré de Balzac – Eugénie Grandet
  • Module IV: Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary
  • Module V: Conclusion
  • Appendice

Course Objectives

When you have completed FREN 421, you should be able to accomplish the following major course objectives.

  • Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and appreciation of the development of the French novel between approximately 1820 and 1860.
  • Acquire the basic terminology of French literary criticism as applicable to the novel (e.g., personnage, protagoniste, antagoniste, intrigue, apogée, péripétie, dénouement, etc.) and demonstrate a capacity to integrate them in literary discussion through assignments and in the final examination.
  • Define the literary theories of each of the authors and the application (or otherwise) of theory to practice in each of the novels.
  • Be able to describe and to distinguish between "romanticism," "realism" and "naturalism" as "schools" or "movements" in the history of French literature.
  • Identify the distinctive literary techniques and literary devices of each of the authors studied in the course.
  • Distinguish the peculiarities of Balzac's and Flaubert's "realism," and the communalities between the latter's form of "realism" and the "naturalism" of Zola and Maupassant.
  • Recognise the autobiographical, feminist and socialistic undertones of George Sand's François le Champi, as well as its particular appeal as a "roman champêtre" (country novel).
  • Understand the importance of "romanticism" in Flaubert's reputedly "realistic" novel and be able to comprehend the full import of the term "bovarysme"—a neologism introduced into the French language through Flaubert's characterization of Emma Bovary.
  • Develop sufficient mastery of the "lecture méthodique," a rigorous, structural approach to literary analysis and commentary, as distinct from the more traditional "commentaire de texte."
  • Acquire a satisfactory level of competence in written French appropriate to the final years of an Honours or a four-year degree in French.


To receive credit for FREN 421, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least a D (50 percent). You must achieve a minimum grade of 50 percent the Final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 20%
Assignment 4 20%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Balzac, Honoré de. Eugénie Grandet. Paris: les Classiques Hachette, 2008.

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Paris: Les Classiques de Poche, 1999.

Sand, George. François le Champi. Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1999.

Additional Texts

Pilote, Carole. Guide littéraire. Montréal : Beauchemin 2007.

Appendice II: Termes littéraires (taken from Anthologie littéraire by Michel Laurin, Laval (Québec) : Beauchemin, 2007, pages 216-233).

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, July 19, 2013.