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New Twin Cities and Morris French Partnership Course

August 3, 2020

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities (TC) French and Morris Humanities programs are pleased to announce a new partnership for Fall 2020: an upper-division course taught in French by faculty from both campuses for students at both campuses. Jennifer Row (TC) and Tammy Berberi (Morris) will co-teach Disabled Bodies, Minds and Selves in French Literature, Art and Culture. Here is a short description:

At any given moment in history, what are the sociocultural forces that give rise to an understanding of physical difference? What forces enable self-expression, self-determination, and liberation from this understanding? Co-taught entirely online by faculty on the Morris and Twin Cities campuses of the UMN, this course explores the history of disability and the representations of disability in literature, art, and culture. We will investigate theory and praxis of disability studies in France. Spanning the Renaissance to the present day, this course seeks to understand the experiences of disabled people and their communities in different periods, through a variety of genres and media, exploring medical histories, representation (for a public presumed to be able-bodied), memoir, activism, and art and literature by disabled people.

Interested TC students can register for FREN 3614, and Morris students for HUM 3511. Although the course numbers are different, all students will meet together online via Zoom. The course will be taught in French, and students on the TC campus should have at least taken FREN 3015. Both TC and Morris undergraduate students can engage with an optional Friday discussion to further practice their French. Graduate students can enroll in FREN 5614, delving into a theoretical reading trajectory and honing their teaching skills by leading mini discussions on topics of their own interest.

This class will engage with critical disability pedagogies-- that is to say, the understanding that students’ bodies, minds and abilities are variable and also impacted by ever-changing social and political circumstances. In this light, and capitalizing on the many possibilities afforded by online teaching, Professors Berberi and Row are designing a range of open-ended assessments, outside of the box of the traditional timed exam. For example, students will be encouraged to design a creative project that showcases their understanding of disabilities (a mini podcast, setting a poem to music, etc). The course will also feature surprise invited guest speakers, including both renowned stars and up-and-coming names in disability studies. Ultimately, students will be able to reflect on the impact of disability and ableism on their own lives, as they engage through French graphic novels, film, poetry, video clips and short memoirs.

This is not the first language exchange between the two campuses. Since Fall 2018, TC has shared Dakota and Latin classes with Morris, and is adding a new Intermediate German exchange this fall. This is however the first equal partnership, rather than one-way exchange, bringing together the expertise of two faculty, and providing an opportunity for students to engage in a topical target-language course with fellow learners from around the state.