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Adjunct Professor, Summer Intensive French Coordinator

Claire Eagle
McCone Building
(831) 647-4185

As a French teacher, Claire is passionate about innovative pedagogy that encourages a deep engagement with the world, via vivid explorations of the form, meaning, and use of the language used to navigate real-world situations.

As a scholar, Claire seeks to bridge divides, such as between language teaching and the teaching of specific content matter ranging from studies in intercultural competence to democratic theory and practice. She is also interested in bridging the divide between traditional language and literature classrooms, which share significant, while mostly unacknowledged, investments in issues of communication and critical thought.

Claire has published in the fields of Political Science, French literary and democratic theory, and Second-Language Acquisition. Additional publications include translation work in democratic theory (French to English) and French language textbook reviews for The French Review.

Claire also serves on the Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee of the Monterey Peninsula Alliance Française, and is a lead organizer of the annual Alliance Française Concours de Poésie, co-sponsored by the Middlebury Institute.

Before arriving at the Institute, Claire held faculty positions at Cornell University, Sciences Po, and Université Paris XII.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past four years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

The more we are exposed to a culture, the more paradoxical it often begins to seem. In this class, we do not seek to do away with neat categorizations of cultures (high Uncertainty Avoidance versus low, Individualist versus Collectivist, and so on), which are useful frames of reference. We want, however, to complicate these schemas via a series of in-depth encounters with different cultures, including our own. Students will be asked to:

• Explore the complexity of their own culture in reflective writing assignments, pointing out paradoxes where those can be found;

• Hone their observation skills by reading and decoding a range of critical incidents of cross-cultural encounters;

• Study Hofstede’s cultural dimensions as useful tools to begin conceptualizing where cultures converge and diverge;

• Choose a cultural contact (a university student studying English) among contacts provided to them from Haiti, Senegal, Togo, and France;

• Explore context-appropriate behavior in their contact’s culture, and develop hypotheses and explanations for any paradoxical conduct they encounter;

• Video-chat with their cultural contact, allowing him or her to correct misunderstandings and answer any questions about paradoxes that surface during the students’ research.

To scaffold conversations between students and cultural contacts, we will use questionnaires developed by the Cultura program at MIT. By the end of the term, students should be able to speak in an informed manner about complexities in their target culture, from the perspective of their cultural contact. Students will leave with a deeper understanding also of the French language, as they reemploy the words of their contact in their observations and interpretations of the target culture, and regularly present on and discuss this language.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

In this course we seek to explore the concept of security, and to identify and discuss the myriad threats posed to it. Broadly speaking, this will involve exploring issues related to: food (in)security and conflict, public health (specifically, population mobility and disease prevention), terrorism, and environmental sustainability. Just as important will be the development of French language skills allowing students to discuss these issues, as well as to develop their proficiency more generally. Through in-class discussions, task-based projects, and opportunities to present (orally, in text, or “live essay” format), students will make progress in their ability to talk about contemporary challenges raised by the concept of security, while improving their French more generally.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

It is often said that we live in an increasingly connected world where barriers of various kinds – cultural, economic, technological, etc. – are disintegrating. At the same time, our world has arguably never been so divided. Why have developments often associated with globalization, which is to say, developments intended to dissolve superficial differences and bring together the world’s myriad communities, been accompanied by seemingly intractable conflicts? In an age of global unity, why have a number of radical ideologies emerged that seem opposed to the collapsing of socio-politico-cultural difference? In this course we will tackle these and other related questions with an eye toward understanding radicalism(s) in the contemporary world. Moreover, as the class is conducted in French, students will develop a practical linguistic toolbox allowing them to discuss issues relevant to radicalism today, while improving their French proficiency more generally.

Spring 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

In this course, we seek to pose the following questions: What is secularism? Why has it traditionally been an important value for Western democracy in principle and in practice? How does secularism manifest itself at the level of culture? What exactly is the relationship between culture and secularism? Why in recent decades has secularism become a point of controversy in Western democracies? What does this controversy have to say about the nature of relations between the Western world and its socio-politico-cultural others? In what ways does the controversy surrounding secularism problematize Western identity? In engaging with these content-related issues, we also seek to reinforce the French language skills necessary for discussing the contemporary stakes of secularism in the West. This will be done through readings, in-class discussions, and presentations of the relevant issues. Students will have the opportunity to explore these issues through various media, both linguistic and non-linguistic, as well as via reflections on their own personal histories. They will thus progress in their ability to think critically about issues related to secularism, culture, and identity, while improving their proficiency in French more generally.

Course requirements.

1. Continuous and creative oral participation.

2. 4 vocabulary tests.

3. 2 written compositions (approx. 5-7 pages in length) and regular participation in online discussion forums on Canvas.

4. Final presentation .

Required language proficiency.

“Intermediate High” to “Advanced Low” (per the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines) + placement by professor + conversation with professor + strong motivation and discipline. .

Spring 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

-Democracy and Social Change–

Please note that this class meets 6 hours each week for 4 credits. You must attend all sessions, including the Friday session, to receive 4 credits.

Democracy can be thought as a type of meaningful negotiation among the parts to produce a coherent yet dynamic whole (Rancière, 1995). It is essentially up for debate, in a basic sense. In FRLA 8281 (“Democracy and Social Change”), we seek to describe the nature of that negotiation or debate by studying contemporary democratic practices as they are instantiated culturally, socially, and politically. We also seek to understand how the debate or negotiation that is essential to democracy opens up the possibility for dynamic social change. At the heart of our discussions will be the following questions: How to define the demos, that is to say the people, of democracy? If, according to Aristotle, democracy is the political constitution in which “all alike share equally in the government” (1291b), what is the nature of this sharing, this being equal? If we accept the claim that “only under [the democratic constitution] do men participate in liberty” (1317a-b), what is the relationship between equality and liberty? Between equality and representation? Between equality and critical moments of social change? Just as important, the course will introduce students to the French language skills needed in order to understand and discuss these concepts (the people, equality, representation, etc.), while improving their proficiency more generally.

Course requirements

1. Regular and creative in-class participation 35%

2. Compositions (3) 20%

3. Vocabulary quizzes (2) 20%

4. Final Presentation 15%

5. Portfolio 10%

Recommended language proficiency: Intermediate Mid (per the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines) + placement by professor + conversation with professor + strong motivation and discipline.

Fall 2016 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Claire’s doctoral work explored democracy through the lens of contemporary democratic theory and the classic French tragedy of Jean Racine. It proposed the idea of the “happy-tragic”, where the success of a democracy would be gauged by its internal mésententes or disagreements, which carve space within community for new understandings and ultimately, progress.

Today Claire is interested in how language learning, too, is propelled by debate, the negotiation of meaning, and a certain “tragic” (but not sad) recognition of gaps in a learner’s own knowledge bank. In this way, the most effective language classrooms could be seen as real-life democratic spaces. Claire’s recent research on learner perception of learning in the content-based classroom (Eagle, 2017) explores how learners grapple with the uncertainty that comes from this type of high-level language learning.

Academic Degrees

B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of California, Berkeley

M.A. in Teaching Foreign Languages, Middlebury Institute of International Studies

M.A. in Romance Studies, Cornell University (Ph.D. ABD)


Eagle, C. (2017) Student perception of learning in the French CBI classroom. In Clausen, K., Beaulieu, R., Hill, J., Snyder, N., and Cruz Pallares, K. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2016 Conference of the Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA). Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: ARNA.

Eagle, C. (2017). [Review of the book Saison 3: B1, Méthode de français, by Cocton et al.] The French Review, 91(1).

Eagle, C. (2017). [Review of the book Saison 4: B2 Méthode de français, by Cocton et al.] The French Review, 91(2).