Fall 2011

Literature in Crisis: The Contemporary French Novel

Listed in: French, as FREN-350

Formerly listed as: FREN-50


Leah D. Hewitt (Section 01)


What can literature do? What is its social force? Is it an agent of change, a reflection of human thought in language, or both? The great French novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries have self-consciously questioned, and struggled to justify, the nature and value of literature. This course will focus on the long series of novelistic experiments, both narratological and ideological, that begin around the time of the First World War.  It will include the existential novel, the "New Novel" of the sixties and seventies, the French postmodern novel, and conclude with two overlapping trends of the last two decades: novels that emphasize traumatic history (war, decolonization, immigration) and autofictions that showcase the individual subject in contemporary life.  Like the authors we study (such as Proust, Sartre, Camus, Robbe-Grillet, Modiano, Nothomb, Makine, Echenoz, N'Diaye, Beigbeder), we will question the novel's revolutionary potential as we study the nature of story-telling and the literary act, and ask how the novel can shape our understanding of the world. Literary readings will be supplemented with theoretical essays (Freud, Barthes, J. L. Austin, Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, Derrida). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following--FREN 207, 208, 311, 312 or the equivalent. Fall semester. Professor Hewitt.

Cost: 80.00 ?


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2011