Graduate Seminars

Fall 2016

FREN 802a, Medieval Translation, W 9.25-11.15

Ardis Butterfield

Using modern postcolonial as well as medieval theories of translation, memory, and bilingualism we will explore how texts are transformed, cited and re-invented in the medieval period. What happens to language under the pressure of crosslingual reading practices?  How can the freedom and inventiveness of medieval poetic practices illuminate modern theories of translation?  Texts will include material in French, English, Latin, and Italian. Proficiency in any one or more of these languages will be welcome, but every effort will be made to use texts available in modern English translation, so as to include as wide a participation as possible in the course.

FREN 828a, Les Années 30 du XVIème Siècle, M 1.30-3.20

Edwin Duval

Focus on the literature of a watershed decade, in which we find the first expressions of a conscious break with the newly invented and disparagingly named Moyen Âge. Readings include the first printed works by three great writers of the new modern age that will eventually come to be called the Renaissance: François Rabelais, Marguerite de Navarre, and Clément Marot. Conducted in French.

FREN 893a/CPLT 899a, Realism and Naturalism, T 1.30-3.20

Maurice Samuels

This seminar interrogates the nineteenth-century French Realist and Naturalist novel in light of various efforts to define its practice. How does critical theory constitute Realism as a category? How does Realism articulate the aims of theory? And how do nineteenth-century Realist and Naturalist novels intersect with other discourses besides the literary? In addition to several works by Balzac, novels to be studied include Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir, Sand’s Indiana, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Zola’s Nana. Some attention also paid to Realist painting. Reading knowledge of French required.

FREN 911a, Stéphane Mallarmé, M 9.25-11.15
Thomas Connolly

This seminar explores the multiple aspects of Mallarmé’s oeuvre, the authors and literary movements to which it responds, and the far-reaching repercussions it has had throughout the twentieth century and up to the present day. How has Mallarmé transformed the ways we read, write, and think about literature, art, music, dance, literary theory, and philosophy? In addition to extensive readings within Mallarmé’s oeuvre, we read poems by Albiach, Bonnefoy, Celan, du Bouchet, Geoffrey Hill, Ponge, Ungaretti, and Valéry. Critical and theoretical texts include Badiou, Blanchot, de Man, Derrida, Gadamer, Johnson, Kristeva, Marchal, Mondor, and Richard.  Reading knowledge of French required.

FREN 933a/CPLT 513a, One Hundred Years of Swann’s Way, Th 9.25-11.15
Alice Kaplan

The first volume of Proust’s Recherche has inspired generations of literary critics, psychoanalysts, philosophers, historians, translators, and critical theorists. Reading Du côté de chez Swann in light of their responses to the novel allows us to construct an intellectual and literary history of a century of reading Proust.

FREN 943a/AFAM 851a/CPLT 989a, Creole Identities and Fictions, Th 1.30-3.20
Christopher Miller

Focusing on the French and English Caribbean, the course analyzes the quintessential but ambiguous American condition: that of the “Creole.” Encompassing all non-native cultures, this term is inseparable from issues of race and slavery. Readings of historical and literary texts: Moreau de Saint-Méry, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Madame de Staël, Charlotte Brontë (and reinventions of Wuthering Heights by Jean Rhys and Maryse Condé), the Créolistes of Martinique. Attention to Louisiana and to the Haitian Revolution. Reading knowledge of French required.

FREN 980a, Seminar on the Profession, TBD
Christopher Miller

Open only to French department graduate students entering the job market, this workshop concentrates on the skills and the materials needed for candidacy. Individual and group activities throughout the fall term. Intense focus on the preparation of written materials, followed by training in performative skills. For credit (does not count toward sixteen-course requirement). Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.


Spring 2017

FREN 854b, Corneille and Racine, T 1.30-3.20

Christopher Semk

Ever since La Bruyère pitted Corneille against Racine in Les Caractères—Corneille “paints men as they should be,” whereas Racine “paints them as they are”—it has become commonplace to place the two playwrights at opposing ends of classical tragedy. This course revisits the familiar Corneille-Racine parallel through close readings of the plays in their historical, political, and cultural context. We cover such topics as the poetics of classical tragedy, the (a)morality of the theater, the paradox of tragic pleasure, and the limits of representation (what can and cannot be shown, and how). In addition to tragedies by Corneille and Racine, primary readings include texts by Aristotle, Augustine, d’Aubignac, and Fontenelle. Secondary readings by Guénoun, Marin, Rancière. Conducted in French.

FREN 861b, Margins of the Enlightenment, W 1.30-3.20

Pierre Saint-Amand        

This course proposes a critical examination of the French Enlightenment, with a focus on issues of progress, universalism, and race. We will confront these notions with approaches that have emerged in the postcolonial field of studies as well as gender studies. Authors from the clandestine and underground philosophical milieu will also be studied. We will be assisted by contemporary historians and critics of the Enlightenment, principally Foucault, Hunt, and Darnton. Readings will be in Mme de Graffigny, Mme de Duras, Boyer d’Argens, Mairobert, Diderot, and Rousseau. Taught in French. Conducted in French.

FREN 929b/CPLT 728, Chance and Constraints in Literature, Th 1.30-3.20

Morgane Cadieu

The course will explore experimental prose in the 20th-21st Century by focusing on ‘Pataphysics, Surrealism, Oulipo, the Situationists, New Novel, and Post-Exoticism. Topics include: inspiration and creativity; automatic writing and constrained literature; determinism and free will; the aesthetics of randomness; exceptions to the rule; materialism and atomism. Works by Jarry, Duchamp, Breton, Debord, Perec, Queneau, Garréta, Beckett, Calle, Volodine. Theoretical readings by Lucretius, Spinoza, Althusser, Derrida, Serres, Nancy. Conducted in French.

FREN 965b, On Violence: Politics and Aesthetics Across the Maghreb, W 3.30-5.20

Jill Jarvis                       

A study of 20th century Maghrebi texts and films that document, theorize, and critique forms of political violence.  How might aesthetic works—novels, plays, poems, torture and prison testimonies, graphic narratives, political cartoons, films—run counter to state-sanctioned memory projects or compel rethinking practices of testimony and justice for a postcolonial time? Works by Kateb, Djebar, Mechakra, Farès, Laredj, Djaout, Toumi, Alleg, Boupacha, Meddeb, Barrada, Ben Jelloun, Binebine, Laâbi.  Theoretical readings by Fanon, Mbembe, Khatibi, Kilito, Benjamin, Derrida, Butler and Athanasiou, Spivak.