Course Syllabus

Course Description.

This introductory course will give you useful insight into how the histories, languages, and cultures of the many countries where French and Italian are spoken have contributed to contemporary global politics, debates, and culture.

Designed for UW students at the beginning of their college careers or looking to fulfill an elective, it assumes no prior knowledge and is taught entirely in English. However we hope it will inspire you to continue your studies with us, either by taking language courses or enrolling in one of our other courses taught in English - or both!

Students will complete two modules per week, each one prepared by a professor in French or Italian, and featuring an idea or object which they find particularly interesting and which they will help you to understand better. For example, you might find yourself exploring what is so French about the political ideal of "universalism", thinking about accents and dialects and linguistic discrimination, learning about a sixteenth-century Italian edition of Dante held at the UW Special Collections, wondering what Italian cinema has to do with the idea of nation, learning more about (im)migration to Europe, reading about the Enlightenment and the public sphere, and the history (and present) of sexuality and French national identity. At all times you will be encouraged to make connections with your other areas of study, and with your own experiences outside of class.  Accompanying these lectures are a series of readings, discussion groups, small and low-stakes quizzes, dialogues, and writing exercises, research puzzles, and collaborative projects.

College prepares students for a lifetime of interaction with people of many cultures and with a multitude of career opportunities. This course is a "humanities" class, and as such, it offers opportunities for in-depth encounters with culture, language, text, history, and civilization as well as for thinking about our complex world. You will hone skills in reading, writing and thinking critically, in analysis and informed argument, in understanding diverse perspectives. The skills developed in humanities classes are widely valued by employers in a wide range of professions. For example, the CEO of Mozilla has said that the humanities are crucial to thinking "about the relationship of STEM to society or humans or life."

For your final project, you will yourself be asked to identify a text, film, debate, or other artifact that you will analyze in a similar way to what you have seen the faculty do. One of the learning objectives for the course is developing the ability to explore, analyze, and argue from different, and increasingly sophisticated, perspectives.  As the course progresses, the faculty for the course will be working with you as identify suitable objects of study.

Course Learning Objectives.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Show evidence of analyzing text, image, media through online conversation and more formal response.
  • Create written evidence of understanding materials from different points of view.
  • Create descriptions, arguments and inquiries in writing and in conversation.
  • Identify disciplines and activities that constitute the broad range of scholarship done in French and Italian Studies, and the humanities more generally.
  • Engage in guided inquiry into a range of sources and debates.
  • Articulate individual learning.
  • Argue for French and/or Italian Studies as a critical and lifelong activity that prepares individuals to engage with a wide range of information and to respond to the challenges of an interconnected world.

Grading scale.

Here is the grading scale for this course.

Grading schema.

16 module exercises (4/week). Depending on the module, due either on Tuesday or Friday at 11:59pm. 40%
16 quizzes (2/week) + 1 survey. Depending on the module, taken either between  12pm on Tuesday and 11:59pm on Wednesday, or between 12pm on Friday and 11:59pm on Saturday. 30%
Final project -- consisting of 30%
      Proposal (due on July 19)       2.5%
      Bibliography (due on July 21)       2.5%
      Final project (due on July 21)       25%










Assignments and Grade Breakdown.

Graded Quizzes: 30%
There are 9 quizzes in the course. These quizzes consist primarily of multiple- choice or true/false questions, and some include one or more short-essay questions. A quiz follows most video lectures and reading assignments.
Quizzes are not timed, but each quiz is open for a 36-hour window during which students can take the quiz at their own pace. However, it is essential to be prepared in order to accurately respond to the questions asked there.
Note: There is a “Knowledge-check” quiz in Module 1. This is required, but not counted toward your course grade, and is intended, in part, to get you used to the process of taking a Canvas quiz.

Weekly assignments: 40%

Some examples of weekly assignments (on average 2 per module) are:

Discussion Forums:
Most modules include one or more discussion forums. In these forums you will respond to questions on the readings and lectures, and are required also to respond to posts by others in the forum. These online discussions allow you and your classmates to share knowledge and help each other learn.
Reading responses / reflective essays:
You will write weekly critical responses to the material assigned for that week. These response papers should be 250 words. In your papers, I am looking for an academic response rather than a “weekly summary.” The goal was to get you thinking about the broader questions that interest you, or maybe some problems in the arguments. Do not simply turn in a summary of what you read, although this may be useful to you as a first step. This may be a different way of writing than you are used to, but it will teach you to synthesize an author’s claims and craft your response to those arguments.

Weekly assignments and quizzes are graded on a scale of 0-10.

Below is the grading rubric for weekly assignments:


Final Project: 30%

Project Description, Annotated Bibliography, and Paper/Project (2.5+2.5+25%)
The most extensive assignment in the course is the Final Project. The deliverables related to this project are:
• A project description (250 words): an initial statement of interest, parameters, position, and at least one primary and two secondary peer-reviewed sources (2.5%).

• An annotated bibliography: 4 secondary peer-reviewed sources, at least two not included in the course readings (2.5%).
• A final version of your project. The project can be a written paper or a non-traditional format (e.g. video analysis). See Canvas page for more details. (25%)

For more detailed information about the modules for this course, dates, and deadlines for quizzes and assignments, please go to the page Introduction To French and Italian Studies: Important Information.

Required Materials.

There are no required textbooks you must purchase for this course. All required readings and media are provided through this Canvas platform. 

Required Technology.

You will need to make use of the following technology:

  • Reliable Internet access.
  • Computer specifications adequate for using the Canvas LMS hosting your course. Check your computer specifications
  • Audio speakers or headphones for listening to course videos and other files with audio.
  • A webcam or video camera for submitting at least one video assignment.
  • A word-processing program, such as Microsoft Word.


  • We suggest you use your UW Google Drive for compiling a Portfolio of academic work, and add to it the major assignments from this course. See Google Drive / IT Connect for instructions on how to set up a Drive folder. 

See Canvas Overview & Technical Tips for help with technical issues.

Course Navigation.

  • You can access course content through various pathways.
  • Click "Modules" in menu at left to display the comprehensive, sequential list of course resources and activities. From this Modules display, click on the module item or resource you wish to view.
  • Click "Home" to return to the starting page.
  • Click the Next or Previous buttons at the bottom of each page to move to the next or previous page in the module sequence.

Course Modules and Student Workflows.

This course consists of nine modules, which you and your fellow students will complete in the same time-frame.

Each module is structured around coherent themes and topics, and accordingly, some modules are longer than others. For the course's due dates, consult the Course Calendar, or, alternatively, click the "Syllabus" in the menu on the left.

On each module's Overview page, you will find a "Workflow." This is a list of all the activities you must complete for the module. Although you can move back and forth among the modules and activities, assignments must be completed by their due dates, and we recommend you complete assignments in the recommended sequence. 

As you begin each new module, take the time to review the overview page carefully. 

  • Read and/or view the introduction to the module to orient you to what the module will be about.
  • Refer to the "Workflow" to identify all of your learning activities for that week. 

If you have questions about what your course responsibilities are, please contact your instructor.

Academic Dishonesty and Student Conduct.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty means, among other things, plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting someone else’s work as your own; or fabricating or falsifying data, research procedures, or data analysis.

You are expected to contribute in this online course in the same responsible, respectful way as you would in a classroom-based course. See the Student Conduct Code for further information:

For additional information on academic integrity please review the following document:


We recognize disability and different ability as aspects of equity, and understand that many disabilities are hidden. We naturally work with all requests from Disability Resources, but also encourage you to communicate any supplementary needs or concerns with us. If you anticipate or experience any barriers in learning in this course, we hope you will feel safe discussing and working with us to overcome them.
We are happy to comply with the recent Washington state law requiring that UW accommodate absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy is available at Religious Accommodations Policy . Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due