Spend the spring studying in a diverse and dynamic city, rich in historical and contemporary culture. Choose among classes on French culture, society, Islam in France, and art history. Live with a Parisian family and travel to Provence. In the process, learn to view yourself and the world from a different perspective.

Message from Faculty Director

Scott Carpenter

Greetings! I’m Scott Carpenter, director of the 2024 Paris Program. I’ve been a professor in Carleton’s Department of French & Francophone Studies since 1990, where I have taught all manner of courses in literature and culture. I have also directed the program in Cross-Cultural Studies, where I offer a course in creative travel writing. My scholarship focuses largely on the overlap between literature and history, but I also engage in creative writing–including a book about life in Paris!

I’ve helped build the Paris program over the past twenty-five years, and I’m especially excited for the 2024 edition, when Paris will be gearing up to host the summer Olympics!

As a study-abroad destination, France represents a special challenge. Paris is the tourist capital of the world, and visitors think they know it before they arrive. After all, the city is represented everywhere in movies and TV series (a certain Emily who moves to Paris comes to mind), and stereotypes about romance, style, haute cuisine, and haute couture connect are compounded by overdetermined cultural icons—things that everyone “knows” before they ever visit, like the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the baguette

Our job on this program is to get beneath the slick, chic surface of this city and understand how it operates as a vibrant and complex metropolis. Paris is profoundly multicultural, politically divided, and socially fraught. At the same time that it helps chart the future of the EU, it wrestles with the ghosts of its own past. It is both high-tech and high-maintenance. It is hard- charging, but also one of the most livable cities in the world.

We learn about the city in part through classes, and each student will take three of the four courses offered. (Everyone takes the director’s program on Hybrid Paris, and they choose two courses among “Contemporary France,” “French Art in Context,” and “Islam in France.”) But we will learn even more outside of the classroom. Living with a host family is a key experience for most students, and for language acquisition it is a crucial one. We’ll also visit museums and go to plays, concerts, jazz clubs, the opera, and more. We even provide you with a cultural budget so you can customize your own experience of the capital.

And because France is not just Paris, we’ll undertake a six-day excursion to Provence, where we can see how people live in the provinces. We’ll also get to enjoy some of the most spectacular natural and historic sites France has to offer.

Finally, after the academic program, students have the opportunity to participate in summer internships in the field of their choice. (This is not a required component of the program, but the opportunity is only open to program participants.) This offers you the rare and exciting experience of using your French day in, day out, in a work environment. Carleton funding (especially through the Career Center) can apply.

I hope this gives you some idea of what the program will be like. I’m looking for students with a commitment to learning not just language and culture, but also about themselves. Study abroad is an encounter with other languages and cultures, but it is also a voyage of self- discovery. It is challenging, exhilarating, confounding—and fun. I invite you to apply!

Scott Carpenter, Marjorie Crabb Garbisch Professor of French and the Liberal Arts


Learning Goals

  • To achieve greater proficiency in both spoken and written French
  • To develop an increased cultural understanding of both France, both Paris and its regions
  • To view oneself and the world from a different perspective through linguistic and cultural immersion


French 204 or above by Spring Term 2024. The director reserves the right to require additional study in French before departure.

Course of Study

18 Credits

Students enroll in three of the four courses for a total of 18 credits. (All students enroll in French 259 or 359.) All courses count toward the major and minor in French and Francophone Studies. French 254 counts toward the Art History major (post-1800 requirement).

FREN 208: Contemporary France: Cultures, Politics, Society (6 Credits)

This course seeks to deepen students’ knowledge of contemporary French culture through a pluridisciplinary approach, using multimedia (books, newspaper and magazine articles, videos, etc.) to generate discussion. It will also promote the practice of both oral and written French through exercises, debates, and oral presentations.

Instructor: French local faculty

FREN 254: French Art in Context (6 Credits)

Home of some of the finest and best known museums in the world, Paris has long been recognized as a center for artistic activity. Students will have the opportunity to study art from various periods on site, including Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. In-class lectures and discussions will be complemented by guided visits to the unparalleled collections of the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, local art galleries, and other appropriate destinations. Special attention will be paid to the program theme.

Instructor: French local faculty

FREN 255: Islam in France: Historical Approaches and Current Debates (6 Credits)

In this course, students will explore the historical, cultural, social, and religious traces of Islam as they have been woven over time into the modern fabric of French society. Through images drawn from film, photography, television, and museum displays, they will discover the important role this cultural contact zone has played in the French experience. The course will take advantage of the resources of the city of Paris and will include excursions to museums as well as cultural and religious centers. Prerequisite: French 204 or the equivalent.

Instructor: French local faculty

FREN 259/359: Hybrid Paris (6 Credits)

Through literature, cultural texts, and experiential learning in the city, this course will explore the development of both the “Frenchness” and the hybridity that constitute contemporary Paris. Immigrant cultures, notably North African, will also be highlighted. Plays, music, and visits to cultural sites will complement the readings.

Prerequisite: French 230 or beyond or instructor permission for FREN 359.

Instructor: Scott Carpenter

Program Features


Students will stay with carefully selected French families in and around Paris. During the excursion to Provence they will stay in hotels.


The program will explore key aspects of the historical, cultural, and artistic foundations of Paris, through both study and experiential learning in the city. Various classes include sessions in museums or other cultural destinations, and the entire group will have the opportunity to attend plays, concerts, a modern dance performance, the opera, and more. A six-day excursion to Provence will allow students to discover the more provincial side of France (where Paris is both revered and resented). Stops in Arles, the Carmargo, and Marseille will highlight both natural splendors and the ruins of antiquity, but also the current dynamism of the Mediterranean basin.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace