Graduate Seminars

For information about courses please refer to Yale Course Search and Canvas :

Fall 2023

FREN 610 Old French (R. Howard Bloch)

An introduction to the Old French language, medieval book culture, and the prose romance via study of manuscript Yale Beinecke 229, The Death of King Arthur, along with a book of grammar and an Old French dictionary. Primary and secondary materials are available on DVD. Work consists of a weekly in-class translation and a final exam comprised of a sight Ftranslation passage, a familiar passage from Yale 229, and a take-home essay.

No previous study of Old French necessary, although a knowledge of French is essential. Conducted in English.

FREN 700: Readings in Modern European Cultural History (Carolyn Dean)

This course covers readings in European cultural history from 1789 to the present, with a focus on Western Europe.

Fren 841:  Plant, Animal, Man: The Necessary “Art of Conference” (dominique brancher)

This seminar examines the relationships between three terms: man, animal, and plant. Cultural history has long privileged the man-animal dyad. We try to understand how in early modern Europe discursive representations, sensitive to the dynamic interactions between these three communities, have built a shared history. We are brought back to the etymology of the term “ecology”: these three areas of life interact in the same medium, oikos, that can be physical as well as textual. Our investigation thus attempts to sketch an archaeology of Western thought on life, the challenge being to reconstitute a forgotten model of reflection on the community between humanity and other forms of life. Readings in a multidisciplinary corpus that includes medical, legal, and theological productions; agronomic and hunting literature; herbaria; natural history books (Belon, Rondelet, Aldrovandi); travel accounts (Jean de Léry, Thevet); poetry (Ronsard, Baïf, Madeleine and Catherine des Roches); fiction (Alberti, Rostand, Sorel); autobiographical texts (Montaigne, Agrippa d’Aubigné); treatises (Du Bellay, Henri Estienne). Conducted in French.

FREN 875: Psychoanalysis: Key Conceptual Differences between Freud and Lacan  (Moira Fradinger)

Working with primary sources mainly from the Freudian and Lacanian corpuses, this seminar is an introduction to key concepts of continental psychoanalytic theory. Students gain proficiency in what has been called “the language of psychoanalysis,” as well as tools for their critical practice in humanities disciplines such as literary criticism, political theory, film studies, gender studies, theory of ideology, sociology, etc. Concepts studied include the unconscious, identification, the drive, repetition, the imaginary, the symbolic, the real, and jouissance. A central goal of the seminar is to disambiguate Freud’s corpus from Lacan’s return to it. We pay special attention to Freud’s “three” (the ego, superego, and id) in comparison to Lacan’s “three” (the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real). Depending on the interests of the group, a special unit can be added (choosing from topics such as sexuation, perversion, fetishism, psychosis, anti-psychiatry, etc.). Commentators and critics of Freud and Lacan are also consulted (Michel Arrivé, Guy Le Gaufey, Jean Laplanche, André Green, Markos Zafiropoulos, and others). Taught in English. Materials can be provided to cover the linguistic range of the group.

fren 880: Le poème en prose (thomas C. Connolly)

This seminar looks at the development of the poème en prose, from its beginnings as a response to the inadequacy of French verse forms, which were said to lend themselves poorly to the translation of ancient epic, to its emergence as an independent genre. What constitutes a prose poem, and why do we need to distinguish it from prose, poetry, and even poetic prose? Readings include work by Fénelon, Parny, Baudelaire, Bertrand, Rimbaud, Laforgue, Nerval, Mallarmé, Jacob, Michaux, Ponge, and Char, as well as Hölderlin, Poe, and Rilke.

fren 945: Introduction to Digital Humanities I: Architectures of Knowledge (Alexander Gil Fuentes)

The cultural record of humanity is undergoing a massive and epochal transformation into shared analog and digital realities. While we are vaguely familiar with the history and realities of the analog record—libraries, archives, historical artifacts—the digital cultural record remains largely unexamined and relatively mysterious to humanities scholars. In this course students are introduced to the broad field of digital humanities, theory and practice, through a stepwise exploration of the new architectures and genres of scholarly and humanistic production and reproduction in the twenty-first century. The course combines a seminar, preceded by a brief lecture, and a digital studio. Every week we move through our discussions in tandem with hands-on exercises that serve to illuminate our readings and help students gain a measure of computational proficiency useful in humanities scholarship. Students learn about the basics of plain text, file and operating systems, data structures and internet infrastructure. Students also learn to understand, produce, and evaluate a few popular genres of digital humanities, including, digital editions of literary or historical texts, collections and exhibits of primary sources and interactive maps. Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson of the term, students learn to collaborate with each other on a common research project. No prior experience is required.

fren 958: Social Mobility and Migration (Morgane Cadieu)

The seminar examines the representation of upward mobility, social demotion, and interclass encounters in contemporary French literature and cinema, with an emphasis on the interaction between social class and literary style. Topics include emancipation and determinism; inequality, precarity, and class struggle; social mobility and migration; the intersectionality of class, race, gender, and sexuality; labor and the workplace; homecomings; mixed couples; and adoption. Works by Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux and her peers (Éribon, Gay, Harchi, Linhart, Louis, NDiaye, Taïa). Films by Cantet, Chou, and Diop. Theoretical excerpts by Berlant, Bourdieu, and Rancière. Students have the option to put the French corpus in dialogue with the literature of other countries. Conducted in French.

Spring 2024

fren 670:  Methods and Techniques in the Italian and French Language Classroom (Anna Iacovella/candace skorupa)

This course creates a substantial apprenticeship program for second-year graduate students. Rising teaching fellows are exposed to a variety of methodologies and perspectives historically and currently applied in teaching Italian and French with reference to global education. In order to maximize all learning opportunities, students analyze and discuss several methods without dismissing or favoring some over others. The intent is to encourage students to develop their own teaching styles, drawn from a number of important approaches to language pedagogy. At the same time, far from focusing only on methodologies and practices, the course strives to integrate other aspects of language education as well, and students have the chance both to observe classes and to develop and teach several classes of their own during the term.

FREN 806:  ”Blackness” in French (Kaiama glover)

What are the historical linkages between Black France and the United States? Between Black Americans and Black French women and men? How is this relationship different from and contingent on the relationship between the French and their post-colonial “others”? How is “blackness” a category into which all non-white, racialized citizens are conscripted? Taking an internationalist (specifically transatlantic) approach and considering the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this course explores literature, art, culture, history, and politics emerging from or grappling with “blackness” in France. The texts and artifacts examined in this course consider “race” as both fact and fantasy in the uniquely complex, long-historical relationship among the United States, the French Republic, and the wider francophone world.

fren 836:  Laziness at Work and the Work of Laziness in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (dominique brancher)

To each era, its indolence. In its contemporary meaning, “paresse” or laziness tends to be evoked in relation to work and is inseparable from the question of productivity (consider recent debates regarding “burnout”). The purpose of this seminar is to bring to light more complex issues related to laziness by returning to the origins of “paresse” as it is represented in France in the texts and iconography of the Early Modern period. Our goal is to recover the spiritual, ethical, and medical repercussions of laziness, as well as its philosophical, cultural, and more specifically literary implications. Was it simply conceived in opposition to work, or did it propose a more protean category for thinking about the relationship to time and space? We consider the mechanisms of subjection of the idle body (“corps libertin,” “corps mondain”), as well as its modalities of “resistance,” a notion that will prove to be somewhat different to that propounded by Foucault. Primary texts include Erasmus’s Adagia, a humanist reappropriation of ancient traditions, to representations of the supposed laziness of so-called “exotic” peoples in travel literature, “epic” laziness in Ronsard’s unfinished La Franciade, libertine laziness in L’Isle des hermpahrodites, lazy gallantry in Madeleine de Scudéry’s “De la Paresse,” and, of course, Montaigne’s “nonchalance.” Readings and discussions in French.

fren 893:  Realism and Naturalism (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.

fren 900:  History of Gender and Sexuality in Modern Europe (carolyn dean)

An introduction to the various lines of inquiry informing the history of sexuality. The course asks how historians and others constitute sexuality as an object of inquiry and addresses different arguments about the evolution of sexuality in Europe, including the relationship between sexuality and the state and sexuality and gender.

FREN 963:  Radiant Matter:  French Nuclear Imperialism (Jill jarvis)

Beginning in 1960, the French military detonated seventeen aerial and subterranean nuclear bombs in what is now the Algerian Sahara. After 1966, the French military detonated 193 more atomic and hydrogen bombs on the living inhabitants of the occupied Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in the southern Pacific Ocean. Today, more than 70 percent of French energy supply is fueled by nuclear power that depends entirely on highly radioactive uranium extraction infrastructures located predominantly in African lands formerly colonized by France. The imperial radiance of France leaves an enduring toxic legacy whose impact is not yet known. Our planet is materially haunted on a cellular and atomic level by the slow violence of nuclear imperialism that nation-states train us not to perceive. With a particular but not exclusive focus on French nuclear imperialism and its archival silencings, this seminar considers how aesthetic works—novels, poems, photographs, film, public installation, collective archiving projects—help to render the obscured and pervasive violence of nuclear imperialism knowable and contestable.