Curriculum and Requirements
Study in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) aims to deepen the understanding of other languages and cultures in their uniqueness and diversity, to develop the communication and analytical skills which provide a window to those cultures, and to invite reflection on the literary traditions and societies represented by the eight disciplines taught in the department. MLL offers a range of language, literature, and culture courses in French, German, and Spanish for majors and non-majors, as well as language and culture courses, with occasional offerings in literature or cinema, in Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic. Literature and cinema courses are taught in the original languages, with the exception of some courses taught in translation, which allow students with limited or no knowledge of the target language to explore the richness of its literary and cultural heritage.
Students who major in MLL focus their studies by choosing from among three types of majors: (1) literature (for students of French, German, or Spanish); (2) modern languages (incorporating the study of two foreign languages--a primary and a secondary one); and (3) area studies. These three majors are described in greater detail below.
The specific course of study which constitutes each of these major programs is devised by the student in consultation with an MLL faculty advisor, chosen by the student at the time he or she declares the major. All students majoring in the department must, as part of their Senior Exercise, take a language-competency examination, given at the beginning of their senior year. Modern language majors must take an examination in each of their two languages. In addition, all students majoring in the department must submit a written project.
For information about departmental minors, please see below.
During the Orientation Program, placement tests in French, German, and Spanish as well as other languages will be given to incoming students. The list of departmental recommendations regarding placement will be made available to faculty advisors as soon as the tests have been processed.
Students who have studied more than one modern language in secondary school and are considering courses in more than one language or literature should take the placement test in the language in which they feel most competent or which they are most likely to continue studying at Kenyon. Arrangements can be made with individual instructors to determine placement for the other language or languages.
Students who have scored 3, 4, or 5 on the College Board Advanced Placement test in language or literature, or 540 or above on the SAT II test in language, need not take a placement examination in that language and will have fulfilled the College's language requirement. Kenyon faculty advisors will have a list noting any Advanced Placement credit and will recommend appropriate courses.
Depending on your interests, your language background, and the results of your placement test, many departmental offerings listed in this catalog are open to you and are appropriate for diversification credit. It is not unusual for students with four to five years of language study in high school to be recommended for placement in an advanced language course (e.g., a course numbered 321) or in an introductory literature course.
Beginning and Middle Levels: Language Skills
Courses numbered 111Y-112Y are beginning language classes. These courses stress the acquisition of the four basic language skills (oral comprehension, speaking, writing, and reading) while incorporating some cultural and/or literary materials. All introductory language courses listed as 111Y-112Y, are taught through the Kenyon Intensive Language Model (KILM), an intensive approach that allows students to gain in one year the linguistic competence and cultural literacy normally acquired after one and a half to two years of non-intensive study. KILM classroom activities aim at dispelling inhibitions and encouraging communication. For each meeting with the professor (typically four times per week), there is a session with a Kenyon undergraduate apprentice teacher (AT), working with a group of approximately six to eight students. Apprentice-teacher classes usually meet in the late afternoon or early evening and are arranged during the first days of class each semester.
Courses numbered 213Y-214Y are middle-level or intermediate classes. These courses continue to develop the basic skills introduced in the beginning-level classes, usually with increasing emphasis on cultural materials, vocabulary, and reading skills. The classes usually meet three days per week, with one or two additional hours per week with the apprentice teacher.
Middle Level: Language and Culture
The following courses serve as an introduction to language, culture, and literature and also continue the development of language skills. Students are recommended for these courses on the basis of their scores on the placement examination, AP credit, or previous coursework in the language.
ARBC 321 Advanced Arabic
CHNS 321, 322 Advanced Chinese Language
FREN 321 Advanced Composition and Conversation
FREN 323,324 Approaches to French Literature I and II
GERM 321 Advanced Conversation and Composition
GERM 325 Survey of German Literature and Culture
ITAL 321 Advanced Italian
JAPN 321 Advanced Japanese
RUSS 321, 322 Advanced Russian
SPAN 321 Advanced Grammar, Conversation, and Composition
ADVANCED LEVEL: LITERATURE AND CULTURE
Courses numbered 325-399 are advanced-level literature, language, and/or civilization courses. See the course listings for full descriptions.
Three types of majors are available to students. Students who have received an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 in language may apply .5 unit of credit toward a major in modern languages or area studies. Students who have received an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 in literature may apply .5 unit of credit to all majors.
I. Literature major
The primary concerns of this major program are the cultivation of the skills of literary analysis and the appreciation of works of literature in their cultural and historical contexts.
Course requirements: 4 units (minimum). The department offers three distinct literature majors: French literature, German literature, and Spanish literature. Literature majors take a minimum of 4 units of work in literature courses in the chosen discipline. They must also take courses covering a certain range of time periods, according to their chosen discipline: in French, a minimum of one pre-1800 and one post-1800 literature course; in German and Spanish, a minimum of one pre-1900 and one post-1900 literature course. MLL 331, a foundational course in linguistics, is recommended but not required. Though it is recommended for all majors, MLL 331 cannot be used as part of the required number of units in literature. Literature majors must take at least one semester of Introduction to Literature (323, 324, 325, 338) or the equivalent course taken off-campus (with prior approval by the department), preferably when they begin their work toward the major. Because they tend to cover larger periods of time, Introduction to Literature courses normally do not fulfill the time-period requirement described above; however, if all of the works studied in a particular Introduction to Literature course were written within the time frame of the requirement (either pre- or post-1800 for French, pre- or post-1900 for German and Spanish), then the course would fulfill the requirement.
In addition, an advanced-level language and/or civilization class (300-399) and a course on the theory of literary criticism are strongly recommended.
II. Modern languages major
The aim of this major program is twofold: to enable students to develop proficiency in the four language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) in at least two modern languages other than English, and to develop the cultural literacy that is an integral part of language study.
Course requirements: A minimum of 5 units of language courses or culture/literature courses in the languages drawn from two disciplines within MLL are required. A variety of combinations is possible: French, German, Russian, or Spanish may be elected as the first language in the major program, and Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish chosen as the student's secondary language. Under exceptional circumstances, students may choose Chinese, Italian, or Japanese as their primary language if they study abroad for two semesters or the equivalent, take as many courses as possible in the language while abroad, and achieve the appropriate level of proficiency. However, students must first obtain approval from the appropriate faculty member, and then inform the department chair and the departmental senior-majors liaison of such a decision, in writing, at the latest by the end of the second week of classes of their senior year.
Primary language: Students must take at least two units above the 213Y-214Y level (i.e., four advanced-level language courses or culture/literature courses in the language, minimum). A course at the introductory level (111Y-112Y) in the student's primary language does not count toward the modern languages major.
Secondary language: The number of units depends on the student's level at the time he or she begins study of that language at Kenyon:
- Students who begin their second language at Kenyon by taking 111Y-112Y must have at least .5 units above the 213Y-214Y level (i.e., the 111Y-112Y, 213Y-214Y, plus .5 unit advanced-level course in the language, minimum).
- Students who place out of 111Y-112Y and start with 213Y-214Y also must take .5 unit above the 213Y-214Y level (i.e., 213Y-214Y plus .5 advanced-level course in the language, minimum).
- Students who place out of 213Y-214Y, however, must take at least 1.5 units above the 213Y-214Y level (i.e., three semesters of advanced work in the language, totaling at least 1.5 Kenyon units).
In ALL of these cases, at least .5 units in the second language must be taken at Kenyon. MLL 331, a foundational course in linguistics, is highly recommended. This course counts as .5 of the 5 units required for completion of the modern languages major.
It is recommended that the student take 1 additional unit in areas related to the study of foreign languages and cultures. In the study of the phenomenon of language, students may elect courses focusing on language as offered by the departments of anthropology, classics, English, philosophy, and psychology. In the area of classical languages, students may elect language courses in ancient Greek or Latin. In the area of culture, students may choose among appropriate offerings within fine arts, humanities, and social sciences.
III. Area studies major
This major program is designed primarily for students who seek to apply advanced language skills to interdisciplinary study, combining work in language, culture, and literature taught in the department of MLL (or courses taken off-campus with MLL approval) with studies in one or more other (secondary) fields including, but not limited to, anthropology, art, classical studies, drama, economics, film studies, history, music, philosophy, religion, and women's and gender studies. As part of the declaration of the major, the student will submit to the MLL department chair a 250-word written statement--prepared, in consultation with the major advisor, at least two weeks in advance of the declaration--articulating the plan of study. This plan, accompanied by an annotated list of courses, will specify the student's areas of interest both within and outside of MLL and may focus on: texts representing a geographical area; a time period; a genre represented in the MLL curriculum (novels, essays, poems, plays, short stories, testimonials, films, and works of visual art); and disciplines or themes to be concentrated on outside of MLL. This statement of the plan of study will be used as a guide throughout the student's career, and may be revised in consultation with the major advisor when the student reaches the senior year, depending on the evolution of his or her studies. Students of Chinese, Italian, Japanese, or Russian may petition the department to pursue an area studies major by presenting the plan of study with the annotated course list. Usually students of those languages undertake off-campus study in order to complete this option. In recent years, Senior Exercise theses in area studies have included:
- cultural preservation in ethnic minority Chinese writing (Chinese)
- gender, ethnicity, and nationhood in West African women's writing (Francophone)
- stylistic and thematic intersections between Cubist art and poetry in early twentieth-century France (French)
- the history of the Berlin Wall and its significance for both East and West Berliners (German)
- perspectives on music under National Socialism in the representation of the "Comedian Harmonists" in Joseph Vilsmaier's film The Harmonists (1997) (German)
- influences of Italian immigrant artists on American artistic expression in the early twentieth century (Italian)
- sociocultural contexts of the all-female musical Takarazuka Revue in Japanese society (Japanese)
- censorship in the former Soviet Union as seen through the evolution of Nikolai Zabolotskii's poetry (Russian)
- male homosexuality and changing ideas of the family through Mexican film (Spanish)
- avant-garde art of 1947-56 in the context of cultural politics of the Franco regime (Spanish)
The area studies major will take ten courses (5 units): six courses (3 units) in the language department and four (2 units) in the secondary field(s), to be broken down as follows:
1. In the target language, a minimum of six courses (3 units) above the 213Y-214Y level, including at least three courses (1.5 units) in literature. These courses should be taken as early in the student's four years as possible to prepare the way for advanced study in the language and in the secondary fields. Thus, a first-year student considering this major should consult with a faculty member in MLL as soon as possible to plan a course of study, even before declaration of the major. MLL 331, a foundational course in linguistics, is recommended but not required. Though it is recommended for all majors, MLL 331 cannot be used as part of the required number of units in area studies.
2. In the secondary field(s), a minimum of four courses (2 units). Courses offered both at Kenyon (not MLL) and outside Kenyon will be approved by the department advisor on a case-by-case basis.
All departmental majors are required, as part of the Senior Exercise, to pass a language-proficiency exam in the language(s) of their major. These exams are normally administered early in the fall of the senior year. The second-language exam for modern-languages majors is administered on the same day as the exam for minors. In addition, each of the three majors offered by the department requires a written project, the first draft of which is usually due in the second week of the spring semester. An oral exchange in the language of the major, based on the content of the written project, takes place within three weeks of the submission of the final draft. (See the senior majors liaison for a detailed description of the expectations and requirements for the Senior Exercises.)
Modern languages major
The written portion of the exercise is a research paper of a suggested length of twenty (double-spaced) pages. It must be written in the first foreign language (except in the case of Chinese, Japanese or Russian, where students may choose to write in English). The advisor(s) and student will agree on a topic for an oral exam to be held in the second foreign language.
Area studies majors
The written portion of the exercise consists of a research paper of a suggested length of twenty (double-spaced) pages. The paper may be written in English. While students are encouraged to write in the major language, no special credit is given to those who do. It is expected that papers written in the foreign language will demonstrate a reasonable degree of accuracy and fluency.
The written portion of the exercise consists of a research paper of a suggested length of twenty (double-spaced) pages. As with the area studies major, the paper may be written in English. While students are encouraged to write in the major language, no special credit is given to those who do. It is expected that papers written in the foreign language will demonstrate a reasonable degree of accuracy and fluency.
Especially well-qualified majors may be approved to read for honors and will be required to enroll in MLL 498 (Senior Honors), generally during the spring semester, for .5 unit of credit. The senior honors enrollment form is available in the registrar's office. A substantial portion of the honors project, to be defined by the student and his or her advisor, should be submitted to the advisor by the end of the first week of the spring semester.
The department provides students with the opportunity to declare a minor in Chinese, Italian, Japanese, or Russian. Because entering students who might want to declare a minor may or may not have had previous experience in the language, we offer two different minor tracks within the department.
For students who have had limited or no previous instruction in a language, the minor will consist of a minimum of one unit of coursework above the 213Y-214Y level and a minimum of 2.5 units in the minor. Please note that this means a student who chooses to pursue a minor will have to begin his or her study of the language at Kenyon before the junior year.
For students who have had significant experience in the language, and who have placed (normally by virtue of an Advanced Placement test score or a Kenyon placement test) into a 300-level class, the minor consists of a minimum of 2 units of 300-level courses.
Because of limited course offerings, students who qualify under Plan B will be expected to fulfill all but one course requirement above the 213Y-214Y level through off-campus study, transfer credit, individual study, or a combination thereof. It should be noted, however, that individual study depends on the availability of the faculty member, which cannot be guaranteed.
In order to declare a minor in a language, students must obtain approval for the minor from the chair of MLL and from the faculty advisor by the end of the second full week of the first semester of their senior year, at the latest.
Students must pass a language-proficiency test appropriate to minors, administered in the fall of their senior year.
Students can apply up to .5 unit of Advanced Placement credit toward the MLL minor provided that, in the case of students on Plan B, it be at least equivalent to the 213Y-214Y level. With respect to 300-level courses in the discipline of the minor which may be offered in English translation (such as courses on literature, film, or culture), students may apply up to .5 unit of those classes to the minor.
A minimum of 1 unit toward the minor must be completed in residence.
Students should not expect to fulfill the requirements for the minor by registering for Individual Study.
Because of limited course availability, off-campus study may be necessary in order to complete a minor. Students are strongly encouraged to undertake study abroad.
Transfer Credit Policy. The MLL Department will accept a limit of 1.5 Kenyon units of summer school credit, taken at an approved academic institution.