This chapter discusses a French civilization course that uses the work of a Francophone woman writer to explore, nuance, and further students’ understanding of French society. The course is intermediate level; students have completed one year of intensive beginners’ language training before moving onto this course. French civilization, or a version of this title, is a standard offering in many French curricula in the United States and is normally conceived as a content course that presents students with an overview of important elements of French history and of contemporary society. Students study cultural materials relating to France and the Francophone world and thus build both their linguistic and cultural competence. Some instructors use literary texts, such as short stories or excerpts, to supplement the non-literary course material. In our course, by contrast, we use a literary text as the central organization of the course readings: Gisèle Pineau’s Un papillon dans la cité . The specific innovation of this course is that the literary text is the focal point that provides the thematic and sequential basis of the course. We taught this course for several years in a small liberal arts college in New York City and have since adapted it to different courses in Australia. In this article, we first present the theoretical underpinnings that determine the shape of the course. We then discuss the course itself and how we manipulate the literary text in order to foster a series of specific learning outcomes.