French 321
Introduction to French Civilization & Material Culture
(MWF 1:00-1:50 pm) Prof. TennesseeBob Peckham

Prerequisite for French 321-01 Spring 2003. Req. successful completion of French 341 or 342 or instructor's approval. Prof. TennesseeBob Peckham (427E Humanities -Tel. 7424. Home 881-6562. e-mail:

GENERAL DESCRIPTION & GOALS: This is a 3-credit contemporary French Civilization course, with the Fifth Republic (1958 to present) as a temporal and cultural framework. Objectives will be in line with the

AATF National Commission on Cultural Competence indicators:

Students will take away from their experience a solid knowledge of general French geography, demography and cultural iconography. They will have a comprehensive exposure to many aspects of modern French family life, education, social customs, institutions, economy and every-day aspects of material culture, contrasts between rural and urban living, France's place in the European Union, the francophone world the larger world community, custodianship of its heritage. I will include a field trip, at least one film, and at least one guest lecturer.

MEDIA: Most of the media will come from the internet, centered in a course web site, but including an e-mail discussion group. We will also use current French newspapers, as well as television and radio news broadcasts. Though we will meet three days per week, the course is designed, through distance education elements. to accommodate those with internship and coop obligations which might prevent regular attendance.

OBJECTIVES & PROCEDURES: The course will be conducted in French. Our communication procedures will reflect the developmental concerns of the

AATF National Commission on Cultural Competence indicators:

ASSIGNMENTS will include
6 unit tasks, submitted typed and due at the time of each unit test
1 short adopt-a-city project
Participation in online discussion (a minumum of 10 sentences per week)
2 one-paragraph summaries of French news items per week (I would prefer one radio or television item and one from a French-language newspaper)
Attainment of a foundational knowledge French geography. demography and cultural iconography (by passing a challenging test with a "B" or better)
Regular homework assignments
Read & Practice in web-based exercises (= RP)for tests.

ATTENDANCE:The class is designed to accommodate those with serious obligations which might keep them from regular attendance. These will take a more extensive role in online discussions, and will report in French on my posted lecture notes or on specially designated web sites. For other students, attendance is MANDATORY, with 5 points subtracted from the final grade for each unexcused absence after 3. Excuses MUST be of an official nature.

GRADE SCALE & DETERMINATION: 900 -1000 = A; 800 - 899 = B; 700- 799 = C; 600 - 699= D; below 600 = F. Best 5 out of 6 unit tests (final is a unit test) = 500, regular assigned homework (including weekley new reports) = 150, class participation = 100, online discussion 100, projects = 150.

Extra Credit Policy: See our cultural events policy web page:

*Lesson List

J06 - Introduction: technology and geography (La France hexagonale, les frontières)
J08 - geography (France and its economic and political dvisions). See Unit Resources (below)
J10 - geography (climatography, physical features), Le Pays de la France: Le cadre Naturel (7 links) et son questionnaire
J13 - geography test. Announce adopt-a-city choice
J17 - Travel (roads, canals) RP in Les Transports, plus de vocabulaire pour les transports
J20 - Martin Luther King Day
J22 - Travel (SNCF, Air France), RP in Les Vacances
J24 - Travel (Tour de France)
J27 - Travel test, Fifth Republic History Introduction, Chronologie institutionnelle et politique 1958-2002.
J29 - Fifth Republic History, Charles De Gaulle - Biographie and questionnaire. See Unit Resources (below)
J31 - Fifth Republic History, La France depuis 1958
F03 - Fifth Republic Political Structures, Etat et la vie politique
F05 - Fifth Republic Political Structures, RP in L'Etat
F07 - Fifth Republic Economic Structures, , France from A to Z: Economy
F10 - Fifth Republic Economic Structures, RP in La Vie économique, Rural vs Urban
F12 - Fifth Republic Rural vs Urban, Densités: de forts contrastes, Demographics
F14 - Justice, RP in Qel tribunal choisir
F17 - Justice (France Pratique), Le système judiciaire français Introduction Education
F19 - Education, le système éducatif français, RP in Les Ecoles
F21 - Social Security, RP in La Sécurité sociale et la médecine
F24 - Social Security & Medecine: Présentation - Sécutité Sociale, and Les obligations du médecin et du malade
F26 - Test on Institutions of the Fifth Republic, Introduction to Iconography (TGV). See Unit Resources (below)
F28 - Iconography, RP in Les Symboles
M03 - Iconography
M05 - Iconography, Iconography Test
M07 - General Population surveys  (IFOP, INSEE)
M10 - Spring break
M12 - Spring break
M14 - Spring break
M17 - Housing, , RP in L'Habitat
M19 - Home, RP in L'Habitat intérieur
M21 - Family, RP in La Vie familliale
M24 - Family - Un Vocabulaire pour la famille
M26 - Cuisine, RP in La Consommation et la cuisine
M28 - Cuisine, Vocabulaire "bon apétit"
M31 - Media, RP in La Vie culturelle
A02 - Media
A04 - Religion, RP in La Religion
A07 - Religion, le gallicanisme
A09 - Holidays & Customs, RP in Les Fêtes et les traditions, Le Calendrier des Fêtes
A11 - Test on Human Institutions & Customs
A14 - Good Friday
A16 - Europe. Lecture exigée: L'abc de l'Union Européenne, + un quiz   sur la lecture
A18 - Good Friday
A21 - Europe, RP in Europe, La France et l"Union Européenne
A23 - France & Francophone World. Lecture exigée: L'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (voir en bas)
A25 - France & Francophone World, project
A28 - Project workday

*This list is now in the process of change. Components and resources will be added and linked in. The order may change also.

I will keep adding to this list of useful sites

My class, lab and office hours

Making Accents with MACs and PCs

Civilisation Française

La Ve République (with multimedia and 2 chronologies)

Les chefs du gouvernement sous la Ve République

Service Public Françaises

Here is our 1st, or "Geography" Unit:

The first thing we will do after a course introduction (formalities) and a technology introduction is to study for a test, which you must pass with at least a "B", and where you must name or identify all regions in France:

REGIONS DE FRANCE (click on the region for details)

its major rivers and mountain ranges, all bordering countries and bodies of water:

Les grands fleuves de France

the countries and bodies of water forming its boarders FRANCE: Un peu de géographie... (bottom map)

cities of demographic or historical significance:

Voyage virtuel /flteach/civ/Voyage/voyage.htm

Click on "French Cities" quiz

State in French something you find significant about each of the regions: Paris et ses régions


1. Roadmap game to familiarize students with cities, regions and road connections. Describe in French the itinerary from city A to city B, locating each within a region, letting me know the weather at the start and finish, with any important weather features along the way. These cities must be far apart (east/west, north/south). I want to know also if it looks like you will be crossing any mountain ranges, major rivers or going very close to or through any important cities.

Usefull sites

2. Train travel Game. Travel from city "A' to city "B" (They must be fairly far apart (east/west, north/south) and on the SNCF main pull-down menu. I want the following information written as a past narrative, including proper tenses and sequencing words (then, next, etc.): travel date, time and place of departure, any tansfers (with times), time and place of arrival. If you transfered in Paris, take the metro and describe your itinerary (including transfers).

Usefull sites 3. CLOSURE FOR TRAVEL UNIT Describe in French two differences between the French Interstate system and ours, two differences between the French railroad and Amtrak

1. Read the French chronology, and pick out 15 events that you feel are important. For each, explain in French what motivated you to consider the event to be important. For ten of them, find an event taking place in the US at the same time, describing it briefly in French. For five of the French events, find at least one additional fact and join it to your presentation.

You might try using a chronology-based US history web site like or if you are from another country, use your country's history. Just remember to describe the events in French.

2. In the United States, we have just gone through a process of electing our 43rd president, during which we learned many things we may never have learned had we not experienced such a close and highly contested election. I ask you to learn as much as you can about the election of a French president, and to compare it in French with what we do in the United states. In this comparison, I would like to see at least four points of contrast.

During one UT Martin's videoconferences with the Université d'Orléans in 1996, we obtained the reflections these French students about their most recent presidential elections. Read them, and make specific comments about two of them (3 or 4 sentences for each)

The latest presidential election in France occurred in 2002

    L'élection présidentielle en France : avril - mai 2002

    Who won? What were the results of the first ballot round (scrutin)? Why would this have been worrisome to the the world community? What was fundamentally different about this election? How many French presidents have been elected by direct universal sufferage? How many presidents have there been of the Fifth Republic?

UNIT IV - French Cultural Iconography: Here is the web site from which you will do much of your research on the topic. I expect you to say something significant in French about each one.

Here are some definitions and discussions of symbolic language to help set your minds on the topic.

ICONOGRAPHY 1. a. Pictorial illustration of a subject. b. The collected representations illustrating a subject. 2. A set of specified or traditional symbolic forms associated with the subject or theme of a stylized work of art. 3. A treatise or book dealing with iconography.

Qu'est ce qu'un symbole ? " Ce que nous appelons symbole est un terme, un nom ou une image qui, même lorsqu'ils nous sont familiers dans la vie quotidienne, possédent néanmoins des implications, qui s'ajoutent à leur signification conventionnelle et évidente. Le symbole implique quelque chose de vague, d'inconnu, ou de caché pour nous."

"... un mot ou une image sont symboliques lorsqu'ils impliquent quelque chose de plus que leur sens évident et immédiat.Ce mot ou cette image, ont un aspect "inconscient" plus vaste, qui n'est jamais défini avec précision, ni pleinement expliqué. Personne d'ailleurs ne peut espérer le faire. Lorsque l'esprit entreprend l'exploration d'un symbole, il est amené à des idées qui se situent au delà de ce que notre raison peut saisir. "


    1. Pick a French icon which you find to be the most easily identifiable with your impression of France. Explain your choice with at least four reasons.

    2. Pick a French icon which you find to be the least easily identifiable with your impression of France. Explain your choice with at least two reasons.

    3. Propose in French that something be added to the French Iconography list. Give at least four reasons for adding it, using your common sense and some of the definitions you see.

    4. Propose three items for an American Iconography list, or a list for your county, using the same criteria as above.

    5. Which of our national symbols or icons can be substituted for verbal concepts in discourse. If a French person says "C'est très cocrico" he is indicating that something is either patriotic or intentionally French. Do you find parallels in your national culture?

    6. Can you make a case for l'Abbé Pierre (internationally recognized for his fight against homelessness) as a French national icon in a way similar to what you did in number 3?

UNIT V - Human Institutions & Customs:

A. Part of your unit work is your participation in the videoconference on April 4, 2001. This will include a "what I have learned" paragraph in French.

B. Family Life: You are a 28-year-old French person. You want to get married to another French person the same age, and to adopt a child. Using the following France Pratique


explain what you will have to to in order to accomplish both. Also, explain any benefits you can expect of your employer or the French government.


L'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie

Lisez, puis répondez en français aux questions:

    Qu'est-ce que la "francophonie"?
    Expliquez l'origine du mot.
    Quelle est la fonction principale de l'OIF?
    Quels en sont sont les états membres?
    Quel état vous a surpris le plus d'être membre de cette organisation? Pourquoi?
    Qui est le Secrétaire Général de l'OIF?
    Il est ancien chef de quelle autre organisation?
    Nommez trois "sommets" avec leurs dates et leurs lieux.
    Connaissez-vous d'autres organisations pareilles, orientées autour d'autres langues?
    Lesquels des opérateurs reconnaissez-vous?

Here are sites containing extensive tools for studying French culture, both implicitly and explicitly:                              

Test your knowledge with a few French culture quizzes:

Return to the department's "Course Announcement Bulletin"
TennesseeBob Peckham
Director, The Globe-Gate Project
University of Tennessee-Martin