Graduate Seminars

Fall 2018

FREN 624a – Slavery and Its Aftermath in French and Francophone Literature (Christopher Miller)

The practices, effects, and culture of both slavery and emancipation in the French empire and the postcolonial Francophone world, as seen through literary writings. Readings on New France, the Code Noir, the Encyclopédie, the Haitian Revolution. Literary authors include Olympe de Gouges, Claire de Duras, Victor Séjour, Alfred Mercier, Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, Edouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Ousmane Sembene, Gisèle Pineau. Reading knowledge of French required.  Thursday 1:30 – 3:20.

FREN 700a – Readings in European Cultural History (Carolyn Dean)

This research seminar introduces students to the various lines of inquiry informing cultural history, including its emergence in the academy.  The course asks how historians and others constitute “culture” as an object of inquiry and addresses different approaches to cultural history as well as explores particular cultural histories within national boundaries (especially France). Wednesday 9:25 – 11:15.

FREN 829a – François Rabelais and Marguerite de Navarre (Edwin Duval)

In-depth study of two authors who defined the early Renaissance in France, closely allied in many respects but diametrically opposed in others, and equally representative of a complex, turbulent age.  Readings include Rabelais’s four “Books of Pantagruel” and the most important works of Marguerite’s abundant and varied œuvre: songs, farces, first-person allegorical narratives, and the so-called “Heptameron.”  Conducted in French. Wednesday 1:30 – 3:20.

FREN 898a – Fin-de-siècle France (Maurie Samuels)

The course examines major French literary and artistic movements of the last decades of the nineteenth century (Naturalism, Decadence, Symbolism) in their cultural context. Weekly reading assignments pair literary texts with contemporary theoretical/medical/political discourse on such topics as disease, crime, sex, poverty, colonialism, nationalism, and technology. Literary authors include Barbey, Mallarmé, Maupassant, Rachilde, Villiers, and Zola. Theorists include Bergson, Freud, Krafft-Ebing, Le Bon, Nordau, Renan, and Simmel. Some attention also paid to the visual arts. Wednesday 9:25 – 11:15.

FREN 918a – Building a Corpus (Morgane Cadieu, Alice Kaplan)

Now that fifty years have passed, how can we assemble a corpus to represent May 68? Would it include posters and flyers, novels and narratives, films and documentaries, theoretical interventions and political discourses? What mark did May 68 make on works of art and literature,  and what is the best way to access the uprisings: through a document written at the time, a retrospective narrative, a film shot before 1968? Is there such a thing as an aesthetics of May 68? Topics include education; feminism and sexuality; family and heritage; social class; imperialism and decolonization; consumerism; factories; political organizations. Works by Akerman, Barthes, Certeau, Debord, Deleuze, Delphy, Ernaux, Foucault, Godard, Goupil, Houellebecq, L. Kaplan, Linhart, Marker, Perec, Rancière, Rochefort, Rolin, Ross, Wittig. Tuesday 9:25 – 11:15.

FREN 969a – Islands, Oceans, Deserts (Jill Jarvis)

This seminar brings together literary and theoretical works that chart planetary relations and connections beyond the paradigm of francophonie. Comparative focus on the poetics and politics of spaces shaped by intersecting routes of colonization and forced migrations: islands (Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Martinique), oceans (Indian, Mediterranean, Atlantic), and deserts (Sahara, Sonoran). Wednesday 3:30 – 5:20.

Spring 2019

FREN 812b/418b – Old French Fables and Fabliaux (R. Howard Bloch)

A study of Marie de France’s 103 animal tales and some of the anonymous “Ysopets” as well as of the 170 comic verse tales whose veins of satire, parody, comedy of language, situation, character, and farce are at the root of the European comic tradition. We read the fables and the fabliaux against the background of twelfth- and thirteenth-century social, religious, and literary culture. Fables to be read in the bilingual (Old French and English) edition of Harriet Speigel and fabliaux in the recently published bilingual edition, with translations by Ned Dubin. Conducted in English. Wednesday 3:30 – 5:20.

FREN 861b – Margins of the Enlightenment (Pierre Saint-Amand)

This course proposes a critical examination of the French Enlightenment, with a focus on issues of progress, universalism, and race. We 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 are also studied. We are assisted by contemporary historians and critics of the Enlightenment, principally Foucault, Hunt, and Darnton. Readings are in Mme de Graffigny, Mme de Duras, Boyer d’Argens, Mairobert, Diderot, and Rousseau. Conducted in French. Wednesday 1:30 – 3:20.

FREN 868b – Guerres de papier (Christophe Schuwey)

Seventeenth-century France brought about a new relationship to writing, information, and media that transformed the style and the purpose of literature. In this course we explore various kinds of disputes in which writing and printing played a part. We examine literary quarrels and the way they created success and stars; delve into questions about propaganda, early modern fake news, and innovative strategies the government developed to control public opinion; and explore competition between the printed book and digital humanities, thinking about the way digital humanities have changed the way literature is studied and approached. Students create their own digital edition as an initiation to digital humanities. To become more familiar with book history, we also visit the Beinecke Library and try the Sterling Library’s printing press. Main authors are Boileau, Boursault, Corneille, Donneau de Visé, Guéret, La Bruyère, Molière, Racine, Scudéry, Segrais, Sévigné.  Tuesday 9:25 – 11:15.

FREN 885b – Modern French Poetry in the Maghreb (Thomas Connolly)

A survey of twentieth  and twenty-first-century  poetry written in French by authors from North Africa,  including works by Amrouche, Sénac, Khaïr-Eddine, Laâbi, Nissaboury, Djaout, Jabès, Farès, Ben Jelloun, Meddeb, Acherchour, Negrouche, Dib,  and Bekri.  Readings  in French, discussion in English. Monday 9:25 – 11:15.

FREN 900b – History of 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.  Tuesday 1:30 – 3:20.

FREN 949b – Novel, Film, and History in French Africa (Christopher Miller)

African history as represented in historiography, novels, and films. Limited to French and Francophone Africa. Themes include empire and epic; orality and literacy; the slave trade; contact, conquest, and resistance; the Congo Free State; the role of colonial intermediaries; the two world wars; decolonization and neocolonialism; and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Thursday 1:30 – 3:20.