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Shattering the Myth of Perfection

Furman University Modern Languages professor Dr. Marianne Bessy has written an article which has been accepted for publication in Vol 91.1 of The French Review: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of French. The article, “Shattering the Myth of Perfection: “Frenchwomen Know Best” Self-Help Literature in the American Classroom,” is an offshoot of her First Year Writing Seminar titled, “Ooh! La! La! French Women in American Culture.” In the seminar, students investigated the current fascination with things French in American self-help literature (French Women Don’t Sleep Alone: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding LoveFrench Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for PleasureEntre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, etc.). She argues that this pedagogical venture outside the language classroom was successful in helping students learn to recognize cultural stereotypes, develop skills to question assumptions, and conduct their own research in order to gain an informed knowledge of French society. The study is based on the results of a survey conducted 16 months after the conclusion of the course, which suggest students left the seminar more curious about France and with an increased ability to identify and question stereotypes.

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