Fall 2019-French Graduate Courses
Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change
ROFR 63225-01 - Prince, Poet and Prophets
This graduate seminar explores the fascinating and complex relationship between politics, religion, and literature during the French Renaissance. With the advent of Renaissance Humanism and philology, with developments in political theory and the role of the author, and with the Protestant Reformation, this creative and dynamic period was also a tumultuous one. We will explore what this meant for France in the sixteenth century and beyond, primarily through literary texts including, but not limited to, the poetry of Cl'ment Marot, Rabelais's Gargantua, Etienne de la Bo'tie's Discours de la servitude volontaire, the poetry of Pierre de Ronsard, Jean de la Taille's Sa'l le Furieux, and Agrippa D'Aubign's Les Tragiques.
ROFR 63950-01 - De l'Existentialisme a l'Ethiq
This course will examine the elaboration of the humanist doctrines of Camus, Malraux and Sartre. It will the focus on the systematic changes to this humanism, by Beckett, Blanchot, Genet and particularly Levinas.
Spring 2019 - French Graduate Courses
Subject to change. Please refer to InsideND for the most up-to-date, accurate information.
ROFR 63100-01 – Introduction to Old French
This course will introduce students to the French language as it was written in the Middle Ages and as a gateway to reading medieval literary works in their original dialects of langue d’oïl. In addition to studying the grammatical paradigms and vocabulary of Old French through the texts themselves, this course will explore medieval manuscripts, variants, and the concept of mouvance as they relate to literary interpretation. We will also examine questions of authorship, translation, the creation of modern editions through a variety of medieval literary genres. Taught in English. Crosslist MI 60536
ROFR 63340-01 – Classical French Theatre and Psychoanalysis
We will be looking at works by the “holy trinity” of French classical theater (Corneille, Racine and Moliere) through the lens of psychoanalysis theory and thought. Our truck will be with the texts as expressions of issues dear to psychoanalysis, not with the psychograph of the authors. Plays will include, but may not be limited to “Le Cid,” “Horace,” “Andromaque,” “Britannicus,” “Phèdre,” “L’Ecole des femmes,” “Tartuffe,” “”Le Bourgeois gentilhomme.” In French or English depending on student preference.
Fall 2018 - French Graduate Courses
Subject to change. Please refer to InsideND for the most up-to-date, accurate information.
ROFR 63712-01 - Being Contemporary
A few questions will guide our seminar: What is the contemporary? What does being contemporary entail? Who are my contemporaries? What concerns do contemporary texts (broadly understood) embody and bring to the fore? We will turn to fiction, film, critical theory, and art to articulate and engage with these questions. We will also investigate our own positions as scholars of the contemporary. Taught in French.
ROFR 63956-01 - “Francophones Extremes: French Writing on the Cutting Edge”
Francophone contemporary written work represents a wide variety of locations and experiences. In order to effectively depict places and events that are new and diverse, writers from around the world who have chosen French as their idiom of composition are currently engaging in innovative stylistic methods resulting in the creation of idiosyncratic French-language texts that don’t shy away from tough topics ranging from immigration to climate change to violence to love. Authors include Mauritian-born Nathacha Appanah, Algerian Maïssa Bey, Guadeloupean Maryse Condé, Patrick Chamoiseau from Martinique, Julia Kristeva of Bulgaria, Congolese-native Alain Mabanckou, and Slovenian-born Brina Svit. Taught in French. Crosslist GSC 63608 and ROFR 40956.
Upper-Level and Graduate Courses Taught Regularly
ROFR 63617 BAUDELAIRE M 3:30-6:15
The purpose of this course will be to undertake a sustained and in-depth study of Baudelaire's poetic and critical works. Our goal will be to arrive at an understanding of Baudelaire's aesthetics that is both detailed and broad. Special attention will be given to his situation with respect to French Romanticism. Several representative secondary works will be considered as well. Requirements include one oral presentation and two essays of moderate length. Crosslisted with LIT 73724.
ROFR 63731 PROUST W 3:30-6:15
Considered by many to be the greatest French novelist of the twentieth century, Marcel Proust remains vastly influential to this day. Not only did he recover a world through his creative exploration of memory, but he also established a new type of novel in which poetic prose alternates with the discussion of art, history, society, politics, and psychology. The semester will be dedicated to reading four volumes from Proust's monumental work, À la recherche du temps perdu, along with some of the most important critical texts written on Proust and la Recherche. Because 2013 marks the centennial of Du côté de chez Swann, we will spend more time on this first volume and invite a French specialist on Proust to discuss it with us. Assiduous preparation for class and active participation in discussions are essential to the success of this course. Students will be responsible for two oral presentations: 1) a textual interpretation; 2) a report on a critical work. Students will also write a 14-17 page analytical paper—while the final product will be due at the end of the semester, evidence of research and planning will be expected by mid-semester, following Spring break. Classes conducted in French. Cross-listed with LIT 73941.
Early Periods (Medieval-17th Century)
INTRODUCTION TO OLD FRENCH: THE LANGUAGE OF COURTLY LOVE
The course is designed to be an introduction to the language of medieval literature. We read selections from several texts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the original, as well as others in translation. Among the works included are Marie de France's "Lai de Fresne," Aucassin et Nicolette, Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the prose romances of Tristan and Lancelot, and poetry of the trouveres. The course is taught in English, but requires a good reading knowledge of modern French.
LYRIC & NARRATIVE IN MEDIEVAL FRENCH LITERATURE
This course examines the ideology of troubadour poetry and its influence on French literature of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. We trace this influence from the narrative response to lyric poetry in the romances of Jean Renart and Chrétien de Troyes through the erotic pseudo-autobiographies, to the tendency of lyric cycles to recount stories as in Christine de Pizan's Duc des Vrais amants. In these works and others, the confrontation of lyric and narrative tendencies, the combinations of song and speech, and the intertextual implications of hybrid works are of particular interest. In addition to a selection of lyric poetry, the works studied include many of those on the M.A. reading list: Marie de France's "Lai de Lanval", the romances Lancelot and Guillaume de Dole, the Roman de la Rose, Machaut's Remède de Fortune, Aucassin et Nicolette, the Roman de Tristan en prose.
The course is designed to serve as an introduction to the dominant narrative genre of medieval Europe. The individual traditions of France, Germany, England, Spain and Italy are discussed briefly, but the major focus of the course is on the Arthurian romances produced between the late twelfth and the fifteenth centuries in France, Germany and England: Beroul's Tristan et Iseut, Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, Lancelot, and Perceval, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Gottfried von Strassbourg's Tristan und Isolde, the French Vulgate Cycle, and Thomas Malory's Mort d'Arthur.
MEDIEVAL ROMANCE: CHRÉTIEN DE TROYES
This seminar examines the work of Chrétien de Troyes, the inventor of the Arthurian romance and the most influential writer of romances in medieval literature. Concentrating on three of his works (Erec et Enide, Le Chevalier au Lion, and Le Conte du Graal), we examine Chrétien's evolution as a writer, his treatment of the arthurian legend, and the conventions he established for the genre. The course will be conducted in English; a knowledge of Old French, although useful, is not required.
VISIONS & MIRACLES: RELIGIOUS LITERATURE IN MEDIEVAL FRANCE
This course is designed to be an introduction to the religious literature of medieval France. In addition to overtly religious works like saints' lives and miracles of the Virgin, we also read secular works that deal with religious themes (La Chanson de Roland, the Conte du Graal (Perceval) by Chrétien de Troyes, La Quête du saint Graal). One of the themes of the course is the overlap between sacred and secular, and the appropriation of secular genres by religious writers. Other readings include French versions of Bible stories, poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, selections from the Miracles Nostre Dame of Gautier de Coinci and from the Golden Legend, poems by Christine de Pizan, Guillaume de Machaut and François Villon. Reading knowledge of modern French is essential. Depending on the will of the class, discussions are either in French or in English, but class presentations and the research paper (ca. 18 pages) may be in either language.
PETRARCH AND PETRARCHISM IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND
Taking Petrarch’s Rime sparse as a point of departure, this course explores the phenomenon of petrarchism in France (through the work of a single author such as Ronsard or Scève), its spread to England (through representative English petrarchist poets) and culminates in an extensive reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
LOVE POETRY AND THE RENAISSANCE: RONSARD
This course focuses on the love poetry of the most prominent poet in sixteenth-century France, Ronsard. Some attention is also given to the poetry of the "satellites" surrounding this Pléiade poet, especially Du Bellay and Baïf. Special attention is given to the role of Petrarchism (including selected readings from Petrarch's Italian poems in translation). Topics for discussion include the development of the sonnet, the concept of the canzoniere genre, rhetoric, literary commonplaces, mythology, imitative techniques, intertextuality, and feminist literary criticism.
LOVE POETRY OF THE RENAISSANCE: MAURICE SCÈVE AND THE ÉCOLE LYONNAISE
This courses focuses on the love poetry of three French Renaissance lyricists: Maurice Scève's Délie, the Rymes of Pernette Du Guillet and the Œuvres poétiques of Louise Labé. In order to study these works within the context of Renaissance lyric traditions, a selection of the poems of the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch are read in a bilingual version. Special attention is given to the crucial problem of imitation and originality in the Renaissance; hence various methods of intertextual analysis are introduced. Other topics for discussion include: the image of the love-object (male/female) as portrayed in these texts, manifestations of erotic desire and neoplatonic love, the use of mythology, the varying poetic genres (dizain, sonnet, elegy), the identification of literary topoi or commonplaces, feminist literary criticism and the role of rhetoric. Throughout this course, a close reading and analysis of the texts is emphasized. A strong reading knowledge of French is essential.
LIFE, LOVE, AND LITERATURE IN RENAISSANCE LYON
The chief goal of this course is to become familiar with the cultural climate of Renaissance Lyon. This is essentially a literature course with a significant cultural studies component. Specifically, this course focuses on authors who lived in Lyon during its glory days, corresponding to roughly the first half of the sixteenth century; accordingly, much of the course is devoted to the three poets who comprise the “Lyonnais school”: Maurice Scève, Pernette Du Guillet, and Louise Labé. However, we read excerpts from many authors associated with this city at various times in the Renaissance, including Lemaire de Belges, Rabelais, Marot, and Jeanne Flore, among others. Moreover, many cultural topics are addressed, through the presentation of articles on subjects such as music, art, printing, the role of women, economics (the fairs and banking), medicine, education, religion, and the like. (This course includes a trip to Lyon during the semester break.)
LYRIC POETRY OF THE RENAISSANCE: DU BELLAY
This course focuses on the poetry and poetic theory of the leading theorist of the Pléiade, Joachim Du Bellay. We begin by reading Du Bellay’s literary manifesto for the upstart Pléiade group, the Deffense et illustration de la langue française. We then consider Du Bellay’s earliest poetry, the sequence of love poetry entitled Olive. At this juncture we examine how Du Bellay’s literary theory relates to his earliest poetic production, as we consider the role of imitation of classical and Italian models in his canzoniere. The course also examines Du Bellay’s non-love poetry, especially the sequences entitled the Antiquitez and Du Bellay’s masterpiece, the Regrets. Topics for discussion here include the concepts of parody and satire, Du Bellay’s relationship with Italy (antique and modern), the concepts of “homeland” and “self” in opposition to the “foreign” or “other” (particularly in his “exile” poetry), and intertextual rivalry (especially with Ronsard).
LA FEMME A LA RENAISSANCE
This course surveys the image of women that emerges from selected male-authored French Renaissance texts and studies extensively the literature (both prose and poetry) produced by women in 16th-century France. Attention is given to the role of women in Renaissance society, with a particular emphasis on royal figures.
POETS FIGURING POETS IN POETRY
While it is always true that all poetry is about poetry, it is not always true that it is about poets. In this course, we study the theme of the poet as figured by poets. Our examination of this subject takes us on an excursion of works from all periods of French literature. The poetry and our analyses are punctuated by theoretical or reflective prose works by poets on the subject of the poetic calling.
RACINE ET LA CRITIQUE MODERNE
In this course, "Racine" operates both as a primary text and as a pretext for an examination of modern critical approaches to Classical Literature. The seminar sessions alternate between Racine's plays (Andromaque, Britannicus, Bérénice, Bajazet, Mithridate, Phèdre, and Athalie) and selected critical works, e.g. Le Dieu caché, L'inconscient dans l'oeuvre de Racine, Sur Racine et al.
AUTOUR/AUTEURS DE PORT-ROYAL
In this seminar we consider the theological, philosophical, psychological and political movement called Jansenism through the writings of those authors who have been enshrined in the so-called canon. These authors include, to a lesser or greater extent, Pascal (Lettres provinciales, Pensées), Racine (Phèdre), La Rochefoucauld (Maximes), La Bruyère (Les Caractères), and LaFayette (La Princesse de Clèves). Critical works include Benichou (Morales du grand siècle), Goldmann (Le Dieu caché), and others.
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH LITERATURE
In this course we examine selected neo-classical French texts through the optics of psychoanalysis and psychosexual criticism. We consider and apply some of the basic tenets of psychoanalytic thought, viz., repression, over-determination, the dynamics and economy of psychic energy, hysteria, drives, instincts -- in short, the whole three meters (give or take a few centimeters). While the plays of Corneille, Racine, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Molière, are the central texts of our examination, we also look at writings by LaFayette, Pascal and La Rochefoucauld.
The purpose of this course, conducted in French, is to flesh out the term "Versailles" in an effort to appreciate how this huge "text" works as a coherent and decipherable whole. To this end, we consider the topographical, architectural, artistic, musical and literary aspects of the court (understood both as the place and the society). In so doing we can hope to appreciate the mythopoetic underpinnings of Louis XIV's political agenda. Among the specific subjects/sources we work on: Fouquet and Vaux-le-Vicomte; La Fontaine's recounting of the famous (and "fatal") extravaganza at Vaux in 1661; the evolution of the palace of Versailles; detailed study of statuary in the garden and of the "planetary" rooms known as the King's Apartment; La Bruyère's reflections on the court; the thoughts of the 20th century sociologoist, Norbert Elias on "La vie de cour"; the music, both instrumental and operatic of Lully, Charpentier and Delalande. Classes are generally organized around lectures, the viewing of slides and film and the audition of musical selections.
LITERATURE & OPERA
In this course, the full title of which is “Taking Liberties: From Book to Libretto, or French Literature Goes to the Opera,” and which is usually taught in French, but sometimes in English, we look at a series of “parent” texts, written originally in French, and their operatic “offspring.” Our objective is less to highlight textual difference, although in certain cases that is far from being an uninteresting area of investigation, than to appreciate the theme and variation of, let us say, Merimée’s Carmen and the treatment she gets in Bizet’s opera. Among the text/operas we examine—as books (in English translation or in the original French depending on individual student preference and as operas (DVD projections with subtitles) are “The Barber of Seville” (Beaumarchais/Rossini); “The Marriage of Figaro” (Beaumarchais/Mozart); “Don Juan” (Molière) and “Don Giovanni (Mozart); Manon Lescaut (Prévost/Puccini), “Carmen” (Mérimée/Bizet). We may try for one more: either “Le roi s’amuse” (Hugo)/”Rigoletto” (Verdi) or “La dame aux camélias” (Dumas)/“La Traviata” (Verdi).
Modern Periods (eighteenth to twenty-first century, and some Francophone)
HISTORY AND FICTION: SCUDERY TO HUGO
This seminar studies relations between historiography and fictional writing along with notable developments in French social, cultural and political history in the period from 1654 to 1830. Background readings include texts that highlight modern theoretical debates over the narrative status of historiography and the "new historicism" in literary studies. Texts include: Mme de la Guette, Mémoires; Perrault, Contes; Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV; Montesquieu, De l'esprit des lois; Prévost, Manon Lescaut; Michelet, Histoire de la révolution française; Tocqueville, L'Ancien Régime et la révolution; Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris.
VOYAGES IN LITERATURE
"L'inconnu inquiète toujours les hommes."
This course explores the many conflicting emotions elicited by the specter of the unknown, l'inconnu: anxiety, excitement, confusion, fascination; the escapist's desire to lose himself in a strange world, the scientist's determination to penetrate a mystery, and the exilé's hope to find a new home. Our itinerary leads us through voyage literature in a variety of genres: fables, epistolary and philosophical novels, poetry, pseudo memoirs, and science fiction. Texts studied include: Voltaire, Candide; Graffigny, Lettres d'une Péruvienne; Diderot, Supplément au voyage de Bougainville; Loti, Aziyadé; Verne, Voyage au centre de la terre; and Gide, L'Immoraliste, Barthes, L'Empire des signes and Mythologies, as well as poetry by Baudelaire and Hugo.
DIALOGUES ACROSS THE CHANNEL: FRENCH AND ENGLISH WOMEN WRITERS
This course studies the literary correspondences and thematic similarities of English and French women writers in this great age of Anglo-French intellectual exhange, and situates women's writing in the larger historical and cultural framework. Texts studied include: Scudéry, Clélie; Lennox, The Female Quixote; Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Burney, Evelina; Graffigny, Lettres d'une Péruvienne; Scott, Millenium Hall; Duras, Ourika.
WOMEN WRITERS OF THE ANCIEN RÉGIME
This course studies the social and literary history of women writing in the period 1654 to 1807, an epoch of immense social and political changes. We study the various kinds of narrative which contributed to the development of the novel, and consider issues which affect women's writing in particular, such as women's status in such institutions as law, marriage, and education. We also study the myriad theoretical contributions to the study of women's writing that have emerged in the last thirty years, including Anglo-American historical approaches as well as the psychoanalytic concepts of some French feminists. Literary texts studied include: Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; De la Guette, Mémoires; Lambert, Avis d'une mère à sa fille and Avis d'une mère à son fils; Lettres portugaises; Graffigny, Lettres d'une Péruvienne; Charrière, Caliste and Lettres écrites de Lausanne; Staël, Corinne ou l'Italie.
METAMORPHOSES IN PROSE, 17th-19th CENTURY
This course analyzes the diverse origins and developments in French narrative fiction from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. We first study the myriad narrative genres popular in the seventeenth century (realistic, burlesque, précieux, historical), then we trace the ideological uses of fiction in the "philosophical" and libertine prose of the eighteenth century, and finally we consider the Romantic sensibilities and return to history in two novels of the nineteenth century. Pertinent aspects of French social, cultural, and political history accompany literary readings. Texts include: D'Urfé, L'Astrée (excerpts); Scarron, Le Roman comique (excerpts); Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Perrault, Contes; Voltaire, Candide; Prévost, Manon Lescaut; Diderot, Jacques le fataliste et son maître; Duras, Ourika; Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, as well as critical writings by Bakhtin, May, McKeon, Watt, and Genette.
LUMIÈRES ET TERREUR (THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE TERROR)
Quelles forces ont déclenché la Révolution française? Notre cours se propose de rechercher quel a été le rôle des grands écrivains du 18e siècle dans la préparation de la Révolution. Pour mieux nous mettre à l’écoute des échos des philosophes chez les révolutionnaires, nous étudions un texte dit des «Lumières» que nous juxtaposons à un texte de l’ère révolutionnaire (1789-1793). Par exemple, pour comprendre comment la «querelle des femmes» animée chez les salonnières s’est transformée en une véritable lutte politique, nous étudions Mme de Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne et Olympe de Gouges, Déclaration des droits de la femme. Pour comprendre comment l’esprit utopiste des révolutionnaires a viré vers la répression sanguinaire de la Terreur, nous faisons une étude comparée des écrits de l’ami de l’homme Jean-Jacques Rousseau et de son disciple fervent, «L’incorruptible» Maximilien Robespierre. Autres auteurs et orateurs à étudier: Montesquieu et Saint Just, Diderot et Abbé Grégoire, Voltaire et Abbé Barruel. On étudie l’influence des Lumières sur la rhétorique des révolutionnaires dans deux films aussi: Wadja, Danton, et D.W. Griffith, The Orphans of the Storm.
FROM SANS-SOUCI TO THE SANS-CULOTTES: THE LITERATURE OF THE OLD REGIME AND THE REVOLUTION
The years 1720-1794 transformed France from a triumphal monarchy into a struggling young republic, then a dictatorship. How did literary writers engage with this traumatic social struggle? This course studies the history of the period and major literary works that reflect on the historical change, by authors such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Beaumarchais, Michelet, Hugo, Nodier, Mme de Staël, Balzac, and Mme Booser.
TOPICS IN 19th CENTURY LITERATURE: FLAUBERT
This course focuses on the evolution of Flaubert's literary career. We read and analyze all of Flaubert's published prose works. We also consider selections from Flaubert's Carnets, his Voyage en Egypte, and his correspondence. Our study of Flaubert concentrates on problems of literary history, on questions of narrative genre and, through explication de texte, on Flaubert's unique style.
19TH-CENTURY SHORT STORY
This course focuses on the development of the genre of short narrative during the nineteenth century in France. Representative works of Balzac, Nerval, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Flaubert, Gautier, Mérimée, Maupassant, Nodier and Villiers de l'Isle Adam are considered. We examine distinctive features of the various aesthetics of Romanticism, Realism and Symbolism as well as generic considerations relating to the conte fantastique.
TOPICS IN 19th CENTURY LITERATURE: BAUDELAIRE
Close analysis of Baudelaire's major prose and verse poetry and of his critical essays. We also consider several works of criticism in order to identify and describe with some precision the literary and philosophical categories within which and against which Baudelaire was writing.
EVIL IN FRENCH LITERATURE
This particular theme is studied in the writings of two 19th century authors: de Vigny and de Lautréamont to situate the problem and then in readings from 20th century authors like Bloy, Bernanos, Claudel, Mauriac, Green, Camus, Sartre, Tournier, Reverdy, Michaux and Maritain.
THE LITERATURE OF MADNESS AND ALTERED STATES
The themes of madness and "altered states" in literature provide an avenue for the exploration of the way in which literary texts pose and animate certain basic philosophical problems. The texts (and possibly a film) which are considered thematize, in ways that are surprisingly coherent and consistent, some complex interpretations of subjectivity and intersubjectivity. By paying close attention to anomalous experiences of time and space, original and unusual interpretations of identity, sameness, and unity, interiority and exteriority, repetition and difference, we attempt to describe the language and the logic which characterize these conditions. Readings in Euripides, Baudelaire, Nerval, Balzac, Maupassant, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Beckett, Blanchot, Fitzgerald, and Cortázar. Possible consideration of Polanski's film, Repulsion. Consideration of theoretical texts of Freud, Heidegger, Bataille and Levinas.
HUMANISM AND RESPONSIBILITY
An interdisciplinary investigation of the idea of the responsibility of both individuals and sovereign states to respond to social injustice, political persecution or conflict, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises. The course will focus on points of convergence between Emmanuel Levinas' concept of responsibility and The Responsibility to Protect by Gareth Evans and Mohammed Sahnoun. Course to be taught in French. Readings include works by: Voltaire, Hugo, Zola, Camus, Sartre, Wiesel, Levinas, and Evans and Sahnoun. Paintings by Delacroix and Millet.
VISIONARY POETRY FROM LATE ROMANTICISM TO SURREALISM
To the growth of industrialization and mass communication in 19th-century France there corresponds a perceived loss of thoughtful readers. In the context of a "reality" defined by rapidly consumable products, among which literature itself represents little more than a market commodity, poetry increasingly becomes for its practitioners a language within language or a language that testifies to a world lying beyond and in opposition to "reality." This course focuses on the modern development of the ancient notion of the poet as a visionary who can gain access to a transcendent order of experience. We examine poetry -- in both verse and prose -- and other texts that redirect the theory and practice of the lyric approximately from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Authors include Musset, Hugo, Nerval, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Apollinaire, Breton, Desnos, and Aragon.
ECHOES OF SOUND AND SENSE: MODERN FRENCH POETRY FROM SYMBOLISM THROUGH SURREALISM
In his 1924 essay, "Situation de Baudelaire," Valéry stresses the importance of Baudelaire for all the poets who succeeded him. While examining the influence of this predecessor, Valéry attempts to define poetry as a particular kind of mnemonic art, one that Baudelaire's mastery imposes upon every reader: "Cette parole extraordinaire se fait connaître et reconnaître par le rythme et les harmonies qui la soutiennent et qui doivent être si intimement, et même si mystérieusement liés à sa génération, que le son et le sens ne se puissent plus séparer et se répondent indéfiniment dans la mémoire" (Oeuvres [Pléiade] 1: 611). In this course we explore the significance of poetry for Baudelaire and several major poets who followed after him, from the Symbolists through the Surrealists and beyond. While guiding our reflection on the meaning of poetry in modern times, this course also serves to develop analytical skills through the technique of close reading. Combining theoretical works written by poets with poems that often reflect and unfold these theories, our readings are drawn from among the following authors: Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, Henri de Régnier, Anna de Noailles, Renée Vivien, Gerard d'Houville (Marie de Régnier), Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, Catherine Pozzi, Valéry, Apollinaire, Reverdy, Cendrars, Supervielle, Breton, Eluard, Aragon, Cocteau, Saint-John Perse, Ponge, Michaux, and Bonnefoy.
FRENCH LITERATURE OF THE FIN DE SIÈCLE AND THE BELLE ÉPOQUE: DECADENCE, NIHILISM, AND RENEWAL
With the movements known as Decadence and Symbolism, French literature at the fin-de-siècle combines a pessimistic outlook, which finds a congenial expression in the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, with a rejection of much that is subsumed under the term "Nature." Authors tend toward a cult of artificiality, accompanied by a fascination with music, particularly Wagnerian opera, often perceived as a challenge to poetry. In the early 20th century, French literature witnesses a renewal of creative vitality, for the most part with writers impressed by the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Henri Bergson. In conjunction with the emergence of the Russian Ballet, dance becomes a literary figure of choice serving to convey energy and fluidity. In this course, we examine works of prose and poetry by Baudelaire, Huysmans, Rachilde, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Barrès, Gide, Proust, Valéry, Noailles, and Colette. We will complement our readings in French literature with excerpts from the philosophical works of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Bergson; essays on music and/or dance by Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Valéry, and Isadora Duncan; and excerpts of non-French literary works (in translation) by Tolstoy, D'Annunzio, and Mann. Thus, we study from a theoretically informed perspective significant literary themes and aesthetics in relation to the cultural, intellectual, and political context in France and Europe at the turn of the past century.
REPRESENTATIONS OF THE FEMININE IN FRENCH LITERATURE OF THE 19TH CENTURY AND BEYOND
This course examines representations by male authors of the "other" in feminine guise -- woman as an idealized beloved or a perverse object of desire, the natural world as a maternal or an erotic figure, or a nearly indescribable chaos -- and some of the philosophical issues underlying such representations. We also look at texts by women writers who responded to these representations while attempting to establish their own authorial subjectivites. Readings include works by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (Paul et Virginie), Lamartine (Raphaël), Chateaubriand (Atala), Nerval (Sylvie), Sand (Indiana), Balzac (La Fille aux yeux d'or), Mérimée (Carmen), Baudelaire, Flaubert (Hérodias), Barrès (Le Jardin de Bérénice, Un Jardin sur l'Oronte), Desbordes-Valmore, Noailles, and Colette.
WOMEN'S VOICES IN 20TH-CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY FRENCH PROSE
Focusing on narrative French prose by 20th-century and contemporary women authors from France, Québec, and North Africa, this course retraces historical variations in women's literary "voices" throughout the century, enabling us to examine the stability of such concepts as gender identity, voice and silence, the public and the private, convention and subversion. We also explore ways in which women translate biographical contexts into texts (or the personal into the universal) and ways in which culture and ethnicity may influence gender politics.
PROUST: A WORLD LOST AND REGAINED
Considered by many to be the greatest French novelist of the twentieth century, Marcel Proust remains vastly influential to this day. Not only did he recover a world through his creative exploration of memory, but he also established a new type of novel in which poetic prose alternates with the criticism of art, history, society, politics, and psychology. The semester is dedicated to reading four volumes from Proust's monumental work, À la recherche du temps perdu, along with some of the most important critical texts written on Proust and la Recherche.
IN THE SHADOW OF COLONIALISM: FRENCH WRITERS AND ARTISTS IN THE MAGHREB
Serving as an introduction to North African countries--known as the Maghreb--this course explores works by French writers and artists who visited, or resided in, Morocco and Algeria. We examine aesthetic representations and travel diaries of painters such as Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Chassériau, Eugène Fromentin (Une année dans le Sahel), and Henri Matisse; the travel accounts of Pierre Loti (Au Maroc) and Isabelle Eberhardt (excerpts from Ecrits sur le sable); fictional works by Eberhardt, Henri Bosco, Henri de Montherlant (La Rose de sable), Albert Camus ("L'Hôte" and “La Femme adultère” in L'Exil et le Royaume), J.M.G. Le Clézio (Désert), and Michel Tournier (La Goutte d'or). Studies by Edward Said (Orientalism) and Fatimah Mernissi (Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society), among others, enable us to approach Islamic culture as well as the vexed questions of French colonialism and the condition of North-African women.
CROSS CURRENTS IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE FICTION
In the early years of the twenty-first century it is pertinent to cast a critical look at the past century, as embodied in representative fictional works. Designed as an overview, this course sweeps us through the century as well as through several cultures and experiments in prose, each holding its own attractions, perils, and rewards at both the conceptual and the aesthetic levels. We begin our journey with works published before the Great War, those hailing the future, such as Gide's L'Immoraliste (1902) who gestures toward an ungraspable Nietzschean superman and Colette's La Vagabonde (1910) who launches the affirmative woman; and those, in the final year before the War, who bid farewell to the past by harking back to childhood and adolescence through an exploration of memory, such as Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes (1913) and Proust's Combray in Du côté de chez Swann (1913). After the War we meet frenzied characters with Breton's Nadja (1928) and l'abbé Donissan in Sous le soleil de Satan (1929) by Bernanos, all the way to the disgust flowing from Sartre's antihero in La Nausée (1938). Rather than dwell on overly negative interpretations of the world and humanity, we skip the productions following World War II and plunge into the pleasures of experimental prose with Le Nouveau Roman, as given in Robbe-Grillet's La Jalousie (1957) and Wittig's somewhat refreshing Opoponax (1964), before getting carried away with Duras in Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (1964). Finally, we begin to explode the boundaries of the Hexagon, travelling first to Québec over Brossard's Le Désert mauve (1987), then to North Africa upon Tournier's La Goutte d'or (1986), concluding our centennial voyage in anguish before the unknown, as Moroccan novelist Ben Jelloun leads us to Cette aveuglante absence de lumière (2001).
CONTEMPORARY FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE FICTION
What are some of the main areas of concern to us in our world today? This course offers a means to explore and reflect upon contemporary issues through the most recent fiction by French and Francophone writers such as Tahar Ben Jelloun from Morocco and France (Partir, 2006), Chahdortt Djavann from Iran and France (Comment peut-on être français?, 2006), Yasmina Khadra from Algeria (Les Sirènes de Bagdad, 2006), J.-M. G. Le Clézio from France (Ourania, 2006), Andréï Makine from Russia and France (L’Amour humain, 2006), Alain Mabanckou from Congo and France (Mémoires de porc-épic, 2006), and Amélie Nothomb from Belgium (Journal d’Hirondelle, 2006). Questions raised by these novels include exile, immigration, postcolonialism, East-West encounters, the war in Iraq, Islamic extremism and terrorism, psychopathic crime, and the critique of French cultural values.
POLITICS OF FICTION, FICTIONS OF POLITICS
This course examines a variety of French literary works from the 19th and 20th centuries that portray aspects of revolt, critical engagement, and resistance versus collaboration, participation, and propaganda. It focuses on the literary transcriptions of major political events, changes, and crises of the French and francophone sphere since 1848, from the beginning of the Republic until the post-communist, post-colonial period. We also explore the influence of fictional productions and perspectives on daily politics in France and some francophone countries today. From Victor Hugo to Emile Zola, from Simone de Beauvoir to Jean Genet, from Paul Nizan to Albert Camus and from Mouloud Feraoun or Amadou Hampâté Bâ to Jacques Derrida or Hélène Cixous, readings focus on the interactions of politics and literature. For example, we reflect on works of fiction that engage in what historian Marc Ferro calls “counter-analysis” of society. We also explore some cinematographic examples of this.
WRITINGS OF DISASTER
It has often been said that the twentieth century began in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. In the years that followed, a number of disasters struck Europe, and occasionally the larger world. This course focuses specifically on the reaction of French writers and philosophers to disasters ranging from the two world wars to decolonization. These traumatic incidents not only changed the way we narrate, but also the idea of narration itself: is it possible to represent and fictionalize historical events which are often referred to as “unimaginable” or “unrepresentable”? We first ask the following question: How are the disasters of European and world history written? Then we try to emphasize an apparent contradiction: on the one hand, literature confronts its limitations when it seeks to render disasters that defy words and representations; on the other hand, literature is in a sense always a narration of the unimaginable, whether it is deemed a success or a failure. In this seminar, we analyze literary works including poems, novels, and short stories. We also examine select cultural productions such as plastic art, music, and film, from 1914 to the present.
Francophone (and some modern French)
THE FRANCOPHONE 'PICARESQUE'
This course focuses on Francophone novels that depict movement, particularly in the form of travel. We read in chronological order works by writers from the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Maghreb in an examination of the ways in which movement to and from (as well as within) the country of origin is addressed over time. A recurring theme is the "return" to the country of origin after a stay in the French métropole. The first text, Aimé Césaire's poetic Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, sets the tone for other treatments of return such as Dany Laferrière’s Pays sans chapeau or Alain Mabanckou’s short story, "L’homme qui marchait sur la mer." We address the impossibility of return as it is portrayed in the writing of Hélène Cixous, and we look at the various treatments of movement (from migrations to wanderings to pilgrimages) in the novels of Assia Djebar, Gisèle Pineau, Fatou Diome, and Azouz Begag. To complement our study of these fictional works, we analyze the theoretical writings of postcolonial critics such as Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, and James Clifford along with essays from Francophone theoreticians like Frantz Fanon and Edouard Glissant, and even Jacques Derrida. The course concentrates especially on creative and critical works from the last decade in an attempt to ascertain what it means to be a multiply constituted subject, formed in many ways by "routes" as much as by "roots," in the postcolonial Francophone world.
DE LA FRANÇAFRIQUE À LA FRANCE-À–FRIC? FRANCOPHONE LITERATURE AND POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES
This course closely examines Francophone literary texts within the context of their composition, taking into account the conditions of their writing and the politics of their publishing. The texts grapple with questions of French colonization and decolonization, focusing on the violence—literal and symbolic—that accompanied the « civilizing mission » in various parts of the world. Many of these literary works portray the ongoing violence that continues to plague countries whose leaders seek to define the nation-state in the wake of colonial domination. Recent publications reveal that the publishing conditions that have long determined the nature of Francophone literary production constituted another sort of domination, one that is only now being denounced and undermined in powerful ways. Novelistic creations from the last decade or so demonstrate the possibilities for writing when it is self-consciously attuned to the commercial dynamics that provide the framework for its distribution and reception. Novels, plays, and poems are studied along with theoretical works that shed light on the dynamics of postcolonial literary production. We also watch two movies in an effort to discern how this particular mode of representation compares with and differs from the written text. We place a special emphasis on Francophone Africa, but we also consider a variety of works from other geographical regions. The writers and artists whom we study include: Assia Djebar from Algeria; Tanella Boni from the Ivory Coast; Ken Bugul from Senegal; Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe; Ananda Devi from Mauritius; Emmanuel Dongala from the Congo; Alain Mabanckou from the Congo; Anna Moï from Vietnam; Sembène Ousmane from Senegal; Sony Labou Tansi from the Congo.
FRANCOPHONE LITERATURES: EASTERN EUROPE & THE MAGHREB
This graduate course focuses on 20th and 21st century literary works in French by writers from Eastern Europe and the Maghreb. A number of novels, as well as a few plays, make up the corpus of texts we study in-depth. We pay close attention to the themes (historical, political, and philosophical) that emerge in writing by authors from outside the hexagonal space of contemporary France as we seek similarities and differences from two geographical regions that are at once near and far from the country whence comes the language of literary composition. We examine the choice of French as the idiom of literary composition and the ways in which this language is treated explicitly in writing, but we also seek to discern the unique rhythms and unusual syntax that characterize works by writers whose mother tongue may be Arabic, Berber, Czech, or Russian. We study these texts alongside theoretical works that focus on what is often called “postcolonial” literature as we seek to determine whether or not these texts fit within definitions of such literature. The theoretical and practical concerns of writing come together when we make comparisons between the publishing situations in the various “minor countries” represented in texts by writers as diverse as Maïssa Bey, Assia Djebar, Malika Mokeddem, Milan Kundera, and Andreï Makine, and Brina Svit.
GLOBAL FRANCE: 50 YEARS OF FILM AS TEXT
his course focuses on cinematographic production in French over the last 50 years. We closely examine and provide a historical overview of movies made in France that have marked the French imagination and influenced French culture; but, as the title indicates, we also view French-language films from outside France, including Africa and the Caribbean. In addition, we read the literary inspirations behind various films, from Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to Alexandre Dumas’s La Reine Margot, as well as an original screenplay. Looking at the specific language that characterizes a movie is an important aspect of this course, as the soundtrack and images that accompany spoken words combine to create a composite “text” that is complicated and multifaceted. Fiction, whether as a written text or as a movie, is reflective of its time in specific ways, and we pay close attention to the political and philosophical statements these imaginative forms take on. The various themes that emerge in influential films of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries move us to examine our reactions to large questions and serious issues that are undeniably “global” and “universal,” such as war, love, fidelity, commitment, capitalism, and belonging, in relation to the evolving world of French creative production but also with respect to our place as scholars and students of French literature and film in the present day. Films include François Truffaut’s Les Quatre cents coups, Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle, Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Gillo Pontecorvo’s La Bataille d’Alger, Ousmane Sembène’s Xala, Euzhan Palcy’s La Rue cases-nègres, Louis Malle’s Au Revoir, les enfants, Claire Denis’s Chocolat, Claude Chabrol’s Madame Bovary, Régis Wargnier’s Indochine, Patrice Chéreau’s La Reine Margot, and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine.