For many tourists, Martinique is a slice of France set down in the tropics. Martinicans wear Paris fashion, eat baguettes and croissants from the corner pâtisserie, and pay for them with euros. However, Zouk music pouring out of tape players, colorful markets and local restaurants remind you that Martinicans have a culture of their own that’s solidly rooted in Creole traditions.  Today, as a French “departement” (the equivalent of statehood), many Martinicans, and especially the youth, are struggling to find their own identity.  Having been brought up with a history of slavery and colonization, they are now trying to find a new paradigm that would define them at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

  • Professor Deborah Hess, Professor of French.
  • Professor Marie-Christine Massé, Assistant Professor of French.

Pre-departure component (Fall 2004)

You may select any course given in French (French 30 or above) during Fall 2004.  Intermediate and advanced students are encouraged to enroll in French 112 called “French Caribbean Fiction” offered fall, 2004.  In addition, we will meet regularly during the fall to discuss cross-cultural awareness, define our research projects, and begin our orientation to Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Dates & Sessions:

  • le lundi 4 octobre: 5:30-6:30 – Faculty Club
  • le lundi 25 octobre 5:30-6:30 – Faculty Club
  • le lundi 15 octobre, 5:30-6:30 – Faculty Club
  • le lundi 6 décembre: 5:30-6:30 – Faculty Club

On-site Seminar (January 3rd – 23rd 2005)

The best way to experience a culture is through its language – not hearing about people, but talking with them.  For this reason, we speak French at all times during our stay in Martinique and Guadeloupe.  Mornings are devoted to conversation classes and lectures on Caribbean literature and culture at the Université des Antilles-Guyane in Fort-de-France, Martinique.  In the afternoons, we meet with Martinicans and Guadeloupians in the more traditional interior of the island, visiting monuments, towns and beaches – to discover the Caribbean life, its ties to tradition and to France.  We relive the rich history of these islands through excursions, discovery of local crafts and culture; we engage in Caribbean social life, attending plays, concerts, meeting with Martinican and Guadeloupian students at the Université.  We keep journals detailing our interactions with the people and also conduct interviews and collect research for our research papers on some aspect of  the cultural and political issues confronting the French Caribbean today.

Living in Martinique and Guadeloupe:

In Martinique, we will stay with families, giving us a priceless glimpse into Caribbean culture and allowing us to practice our French. Accommodations in Guadeloupe will be in hotels.

Re-entry component (Spring 2005)

We meet in small group meetings during the spring semester to discuss our experiences in Martinique and Guadeloupe and to complete our research projects to be written in French.

Special considerations

All participants will be required to have an up-to-date passport and international Student Identity Card.  Students with citizenship other than in the US should contact the French Consulate (these islands are part of France) for any additional entry requirements.