By Lisa Connell
In the Spring 2010 quarter, The Canadian Studies Center and the Division of French and Italian studies worked together to create a 2-credit advanced conversation course, La Culture québécoise contemporaine. Sponsored by the Center’s Québec Initiative, this course introduced students to some key historical moments in Québécois society, such as the passage of la loi 101 and the Independence Movement, as well as contributors to Québec’s literary, political, and cinematic worlds.
The course material had an interdisciplinary aspect in order to accommodate the range of interests of French language students, which includes International Studies, literature, and cultural studies. In particular, literary texts from different genres, such as autobiography, short-story, and science-fiction, movies by iconic filmmakers such as Denys Arcand, and the rhetoric and theories of political activists such as Pierre Vallières helped structure the course discussions. Moreover, every week course participants found newspaper articles on-line and shared them with a partner.
By researching and presenting current events, students had the chance to learn not only about different social issues shaping Québec, but also the cultural links between Québec and the United States as well as France. Ultimately, in addition to providing a general point of departure for learning about this vibrant region of the French-speaking world, this course enabled students from across disciplines to come together in an intimate classroom environment to develop their conversation abilities.