I recently found out that College Board is going to cancel the AP exam in French Literature as of 2009. Also gone are Latin Literature and Italian Language & Culture. German Literature has been gone for 10 years, so that leaves us with Chinese Language & Culture, French Language, German Language, Japanese Language & Culture, Latin: Vergil, Spanish Language and Spanish Literature. Seriously, more people study Latin literature than German literature or even Italian??
I have never been a big fan of standardized testing – especially not ones that claim taking one test can possibly equal an entire university course – but the fact that they are canceling these exams means that fewer students are interested in taking language classes. I never had the opportunity to take AP French at my high school (I think we only had AP English), but I wish I could have. I felt very behind when I began university because my high school French wasn’t advanced enough.
Here’s the list of required reading for the French Literature exam. (You can also download a sample test here.)
- Marguerite Duras: Moderato cantabile
- Maupassant: Pierre et Jean
- Voltaire: Candide
- Molière: L’Ecole des femmes
- Corneille: Le Cid
- Aimé Césaire: Une tempête
- Apollinaire: “Le Pont Mirabeau,” “Les Colchiques,” “Mai,” “Automne”
- Baudelaire: “Correspondances,” “Hymne à la Beauté,” “L’Invitation au voyage,” “Chant d’automne,” “Spleen” (“Quand le ciel. . .”), “Recueillement” (From Les Fleurs du mal)
- Du Bellay: “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage,” “Si notre vie est moins qu’une journée,”
- Labé: Sonnets: “On voit mourir toute chose animée,” “Je vis, je meurs: je me brule et me noye,”
- La Fontaine: “Les Animaux malades de la peste,” “Le Chêne et le Roseau,” “La Mort et le Bûcheron,” “Le Loup et l’Agneau”
I can honestly say I haven’t read and/or have forgotten many of these. But then again, the French program I did in college focused on linguistics instead of literature so I was only required to take one French literature course. I’ve always hated reading fiction in English, but when it’s in another language, it’s not so bad because at least I’m learning new words.