Writing assignment in UW-Madison class reaches newspaper readers in France

Imagine writing an article as an assignment for a French workshop class and ending up with your prose published in a newspaper in France. Two students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison just added that milestone to their list of undergraduate experiences.

French Class-Journalists 033Juan Fonseca and Zuzanna Sztul are among the 38 students in French 312 (Advanced Oral and Written Expression: Writing Across the Humanities), taught in two sections this spring by Névine El-Nossery and Andrew Irving.

French 312 follows a workshop format in which students read, analyze, present and write texts in different forms, from academic dissertations to professional communication and even satire and over-the-top descriptions.

In the recent unit on La Presse, the students analyzed the sometimes strict format and style of French journalistic writing. As part of this unit, they spoke via Skype on March 11 with writers and editors from La Nouvelle République: Loir-et-Cher (the Loir-et-Cher region’s edition of the Nouvelle République).

At the end of the interview, Adrien Planchon of Nouvelle République assigned the UW–Madison students to research and write articles about why an American student would want to visit the region of Loir et Cher, which is home to many of France’s most famous chateaus.

Students in French 312 Skype with journalists in France.
Students in French 312 Skype with journalists in France.

The students had two days to complete their first drafts, and then were given an opportunity to revise their articles. Under this deadline pressure, students were expected to follow a strict French journalistic format. The completed articles were reviewed to select which would be published in the newspaper’s online edition and on its Facebook page.

On March 14, Nouvelle République published an article about the collaboration (along with a photo supplied by the UW-Madison Division of International Studies).

French Class-Journalists 013(On Flickr: See more photos from French 312)

A week later, during the second Skype conversation between the students and journalists, the students learned whose articles would be published:

  • The piece by Fonseca, majoring in journalism and communication arts and seeking a certificate in French, who was inspired by Agnès Varda’s 1958 documentary Ô saisons, ô châteaux.
  • The article by Sztul, majoring in Polish and psychology and seeking a certificate in business, whose article embodied the dream of young girls and boys to become princesses and princes of in one of these magnificent castles.

The two articles were published in the March 19 online edition of La Nouvelle République: Loir-et-Cher.

– by Kerry G. Hill