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Can (Role-) Playing the French Revolution En Français Also Teach the Eighteenth Century?

Peggy Schaller


1. My thanks to ACTFL for allowing non-profits and educational institutions free access to their files.
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2. A particular note of thanks to John Burney of Doane College, whose leadership at a “Reacting to the Past” workshop and subsequent mentoring to new “game masters” were invaluable in the creation of my own game structure.
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3. This online game exceeded ten million subscribers by January 1, 2008, and has repeatedly been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the most popular online game in the world (Glenday 241).
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4. I am using foundational knowledge here to specify what Fink refers to as special value, where “foundational knowledge provides the basic understanding that is necessary for other kinds of learning” (31).
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5. The textbook used is the 1996 edition of La Civilisation française I edited by Ross Steele, Susan St. Onge, and Ronald St. Onge.
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6. The films include Le Roi danse (2000), Molière (2007), and Vatel (2000).
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7. Students were instructed to read a reduced number of chapters in each book to make the reading achievable and not too overwhelming.
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8. This type of preparation will be discussed in detail later in this article; see also studies by Tony Lynch and Joan Maclean on task repetition and recycling.
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9. Chapters 4 and 5 of Fink’s Creating Significant Learning Experiences provide particularly good information on guiding students with clear outcome objectives.
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10. Both my colleague and I also used several of the videos to promote this new class format on our campus. They proved quite helpful in gaining support from the administration and other faculty members who have since become interested in using other Reacting to the Past games.
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11.Citoyen Danton / Will’s speech is a bit long, but the citations from Rousseau and the encouragement from other Sans Culottes faction members can be heard during the first minutes of his speech:
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12. Printed with permission of the student.
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Primary Sources

Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1790. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

De Gouges, Olympe. Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne. 1791. Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2003. Print.

Descartes, René. Discours de la méthode, suivi de La Dioptrique. 1637. Paris: Gallimard, 1991. Print.

Diderot, Denis and Jean D’Alembert. L’Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. 18 vols. 1751–1760. Ed. Alain Pons. 2 vols. Paris: Flammarion, 1986. Print.

Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de. De l’Esprit des lois. 2 vols. 1748. Ed. Laurent Versini. Paris: Gallimard, 1995. Print.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Du Contrat social ou principes du droit politique. 1762. Paris: Livres de Poche, 1992. Print.

Sévigné, Madame de. Lettres. 1725. Ed. Bernard Raffalli. Paris: Flammarion, 1976. Print.

Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet). Lettres philosophiques. 1733. Paris: Gallimard, 1986. Print.

Secondary Sources

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language, ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines C Speaking, 1999. Web. 3 Feb. 2012.

Brookfield, Stephen D. The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990. Print.

Brookfield, Stephen D., and Stephen Preskill. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005. Print.

Carnes, Mark and Gary Kates. Rousseau, Burke and Revolution in France, 1791. New York: Longman, 2005. Print.

Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. New York: Vintage, 1985. Print.

Fink, L. Dee. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, 2003. Print.

Glenday, Craig, ed. Guinness World Records 2009. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.

Goodman, Dena. The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994. Print.

Gygar, E. Gary and Dave Arneson. Dungeon Master’s Guide 3.5, Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003. Print.

Jacob, Margaret C., ed. The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: St. Martin’s Press, 2001. Print.

Johnson, David W. and Roger T. Johnson, Karl A. Smith. Active Learning Cooperation in the College Classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Co., 1998. Print.

Krief, Huguette, ed. Vivre libre et écrire: Anthologie des romancières de la période révolutionnaire (1789–1800). Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2005. Print.

Landes, Joan B. Visualizing the Nation: Gender, Representation, and Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2001. Print.

Lougee, Carolyn C. Le Paradis de femmes: Women, Salons, and Social Stratification in Seventeenth-Century France. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1976. Print.

Lynch, Tony, and Joan Maclean. “‘A case of exercising’: Effects of Immediate Task Repetition on Learners’ Performance.” Researching Pedagogic Tasks: Second Language Learning, Teaching and Testing. Ed. M. Bygate, P. Skehan and M. Swain. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2001. 140–62. Print.

———. “Exploring the Benefits of Task Repetition and Recycling for Classroom Language Learning.” Language Teaching Research 4.3 (2000): 221–50. Print.

McMahon, Darrin M. Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.

Pomeau, René, ed. Politique de Voltaire: Textes choisis. Paris: Colin, 1963. Print.

Roessler, Shirley Elson. Out of the Shadows: Women and Politics in the French Revolution, 1789–95. New York: Peter Lang, 1996. Print.

Rossiter, Marian J., Tracey M. Derwing, Linda G. Manimtim, and Ron I. Thomson. “Oral Fluency: The Neglected Component in the Communicative Language Classroom.” The Canadian Modern Language Review / La revue canadienne des langues vivantes 66.4 (2010) : 583–606. Print.

Steele, Ross, Susan St. Onge, and Ronald St.Onge. La Civilisation française en évolution I: Institutions et culture avant la Ve République. Boston: Heinle, 1996. Print.

Weimer, Maryellen. Learning-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, 2002. Print.

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