English 170/French 277: Writing LíAmérique:
Voyages of (Self)-Discovery in Fact and Fiction  http://titan.iwu.edu/~matthews/homepage.html 
[ Required texts ] [ On Reserve ] [ Course Description ] [ Course Goals ] [ Student Responsibilities ]
[ Group Projects ] [ Useful Works ]
Required Texts/Textes obligatoires:

La Salle: Explorer of the North American Frontier, Anka Muhlstein, (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1994)

Voyages of Marquette in The Jesuit Relations, 59, Jacques Marquette (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, Inc., 1966) (http://titan.iwu.edu/~matthews/marquett.html)

Voyages in America. René Chateaubriand (http://titan.iwu.edu/~matthews/chateau.html)

Journey to America. Alexis de Tocquville (on reserve, Sheean Library)

French Peoria and the Illinois Country: 1673-1846. Judith A. Franke, (Springfield: Illinois State Museum Society) 1995

Selections from Writing LíAmérique Coursepack.

On Reserve at Sheean Library:

Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, Stephen Greenblatt (The University of Chicago Press, 1991)

The White Manís Indian, Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr. (New York: Vintage Books, 1979)

The Time of the French in the Heart of North America. Charles J. Balesi, (Chicago: Alliance Française Chicago) 1996

Course Description/Description du cours: In this course we will examine the experience of writing oneself into history by examining the travel writings of various French visitors to the Midwestern United States. We will read closely the journals of such French explorers of the Mississippi River Valley as Marquette, Gravier, and La Salle, comparing both their experiences and their narratives. We will read the journals of later travelers such as Chateaubriand and de Tocqueville examing how French perceptions of this Grand Experiment called America changed. We will read histories of the explorations which call into question the veracity of several accounts. Sites to be explored include Creve-Coeur, Dixon Mounds, and Starved Rock. Students electing the course for French credit will meet one hour each day separately and will do other work focused on 17th century French language.

Course Goals/Buts du cours:


English: 1) Develop skills in reading, writing, and critical analysis of travel literature.

French: 1) Develop skills in reading, writing, and critical analysis of travel literature.
              2) Increase an appreciation of the structures of 17th century French

Student responsibilities/Responsabilités des étudiants:

1) Keep a weekly journal (2 entries per week) (40 %)

2) Participate in a group project resulting in a product or performance on or before May 29th (60%--see attached sheet)

Travel/Voyages: There are three sites along the Illinois that impact on our course--Starved Rock, Creve-Coeur, and Dixon Mounds. Starved Rock is the site of the major French fortification on the Illinois. Creve-Coeur has a wonderful replica of La Salle's fort as well as a small museum. Dixon Mounds Museum has the best comprehensive summary of human habitation of the Illinois River Basin. These sites are all free.

Attendance/Assistance: Travellers left behind in 17th century Illinois could expect to survive perhaps a week at most. Don't be left behind, because we can't wait. Don't miss class--it's only three weeks.

Meeting times/Scéances:

Combined: M-F 1-2:30
Teams: M-F 2:35-3:15
French only: M-F 3:40-4:00

Group Projects/Projets en équipes

Each student has been assigned to a team composed of several English students and one French student. Your task during this semester is to produce some type of product to present to the class. All students are to participate equally in the project as measured by time logs.

Projects (note the appropriately ambiguous vocabulary) may be of several types including but not limited to:

1) Creating a Web page about French exploration of this area.
2) Developing a multi-media presentation about French exploration.
3) Making a video illustrating differences between then and now.
4) Writing and performing an original scene illustrating events discussed in the course.
5) Writing an original story

Each project must:

1) Be bi-lingual
2) involve each individual equally

Projects will be presented/performed on or by the last day of class (May 29). Grades for the project will be based upon:

a) originality
b) quality of information provided
c) degree to which at least one goal of the course is fulfilled


The Interactive Learning Center (ILC) has a wide variety of presentation software you might wish to use. Both the Library and Buck and the Computer labs in the Science Center have access to the World Wide Web. Assistants in the ILC can help assemble a WWW page if you choose this option. Video cameras are available to check out from the Library and the ILC, though they are limited in number. I strongly advise first to envision what it is you would like to accomplish and allow assistants from the library or ILC to suggest various media that will help you.  

Useful Works/Oeuvres Utiles

Wilderness at Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent, Ted Morgan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)*

Explorers of the Mississippi, Timothy Severin (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968)

The Illinois, James Gray (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1940)*

Indian Villages of the Illinois Country 1670-1830: Atlas and Supplement, Tucker and Temple, (Springfield: Illinois State Museum, 1942, 1975)

Blaeuís The Grand Atlas of the 17th Century World, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 1991) Reprint of 1662 edition.

Computerized Information Retrieval System (CIRS) on Columbus and the Age of Discovery (www.millersv.edu/~columbus/)

1492: An Ongoing Voyage (http://sunsite.unc.edu/expo/1492.exhibit/overview.html#Europe)

*Available at Barnes & Noble