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2016 Fall Courses
Rebels and Villains: Francophone Women Writers
Instructor: Magali Compan
This course examines texts by women from around the Francophone World (Madagascar, Mauritius, France, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Reunion Island, Tahiti). We will look at how women from different cultures and countries narrate their lives through literature, film and art. During the semester, we will read novels, short stories, poems, critical essays, theoretical texts, and watch four films. The texts we will explore reveal vital insights into the history, culture, social realities, and politics of francophone cultures. While our course theme centers on questions of gender, the texts we will explore also raise important issues of race, social class, religion, colonialism and post-colonialism. This course is taught exclusively in French
French 394 / COLL 200
Instructor: Nathan Rabalais
Course taught in English. This course challenges students to question conventional perceptions of what constitutes a hero from a variety of disciplinary approaches and multiple viewpoints. Participants will study the social processes and of creating heroes, whether they are rooted in history, myth or propaganda. Moreover, the fragile and sometimes illusory border between “hero” and “outlaw” will be examined in a wide array of temporal and cultural contexts including folklore, urban legend, literature, cinema, and current events. Students will question preconceived notions of heroic identity using a theoretical framework including foundational works by Joseph Campbell and Eric Hobsbawm, as well as more recent texts by Carl Lindahl and Graham Seal.
The French Revolution
Instructor: Giulia Pacini
This course will explore the history and importance of the French revolution through an analysis of different forms of eighteenth-century cultural expression. We will read a novel, selections from a groundbreaking philosophical treatise, and a revolutionary poem. Other course documents will include political caricatures, pamphlets, revolutionary music, ceramics, paintings, and period films. These materials will allow us to investigate the ways in which the revolutionaries mobilized or redefined notions of French identity, patriotism, and political authority. They will also help us decipher some of the fundamental symbols and political narratives of this period. Finally, this course will consider the international dimensions of the French revolution (in the Caribbean in particular): we will therefore discuss late eighteenth-century debates on race and slavery. In the process, we will address methodological questions such as how to interpret cultural objects (i.e. the guillotine or revolutionary clothing) as meaningful “texts.”
French 303 is a seminar open to advanced freshmen or older students who have not yet taken French 305. It is meant to develop students’ analytical and linguistic skills through intensive discussion. This course does not include any explicit grammatical review.
La musique et les lettres de Charles Baudelaire à Pascal Quignard
Instructor: François-Nicolas Vozel
This course proposes a broad survey of French and francophone literature from the point of view of music. Each reading treats a particular moment in French literary history when music and literature become entangled in provocative ways. The French literary tradition is a privileged site to investigate the relationship between music and literature. In the second half of the 19th century the symbolist poets (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, Ghil) advanced the idea that all art should aspire to the condition of music, which was thought to be the most powerful aesthetic medium. The symbolist experimentations with the traditional forms of poetry paved the way for a new kind of literary aesthetics that released poetic forms from the static and contemplative idealism of the Romantic tradition.
Suggesting alongside Marguerite Duras that “a book without music is not a book,” we will analyze the works of a group of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first- century writers who picked up the symbolists’ torch by conceptualizing music as an inassimilable “other” in relation to which new aesthetic criteria may be created. If these writings perpetuate the “poetic temptation,” which lies, according to poet Paul Valéry, in “the prolonged hesitation between sound and meaning,” we will see that it is through engagement with music, supposedly the most intangible and anti-mimetic of the arts, that one can retrace the textual transformations accomplished by these writers.
Using examples from classical music, experimental music, jazz, and hip hop, we will analyze poetry, novels, theatre plays, and a film that “musicalize” language by drawing from musical forms and structures. More generally, we will address how each work calls into question the codes of the genres and traditions in which it intervenes and how it defies established modes of perception and cognition.
The course will be conducted in French, as well as all the class discussion.
Culture in Context 3: Social Trends. Tendances Sociales de la France Aujourd’hui.
Intructor Michael Leruth
This course will examine major social and cultural trends in France over the past 20 years, placed in a broader historical context. It will consider how France has become a more complex, diverse, divided, and dynamic country than certain stereotypes suggest. Examples of topics to be considered include education, family life, gender, class, and generational differences, multiculturalism, immigration, identity politics, urban life, new forms of community, the evolution of value systems, work, leisure, media, and popular culture. The course will be based predominantly on current articles from the French press but will also incorporate scholarly texts, online materials, relevant films and a novel. Taught in French.
Instructor: Maryse Fauvel
Numerous movies represent a stereotypical romantic image of a Paris stuck in modernity as developed in the 19th-century. This course -that will include the history of French cinema through this topic- will also counterbalance this representation and present Paris as a palimpsest composed of many cultures existing with each others today -making Paris one of the most multicultural, multilingual and postmodern city of West-Europe.
Possibility of going to Paris for a week in October -the course would count as COLL 300. TBC.
Topics in French Literature
The content of this class will be announced at a later date.