Fall 2020

Troubled Minds: The Self under Siege

Listed in: French, as FREN-356

Moodle site: Course


Raphael Sigal (Section 01)


The coincidence of the “I” and the self might seem redundant, even self-evident. But, in the twentieth century, the very act of writing one’s life, of writing about the self, is often the starting point of a quest that brings authors to express conflicted, paradoxical, even violent ideas about themselves and the world. Whether they aim at revealing the naked truth about their life, or on the contrary attempt to conceal it, they use literature as a repository for their experience, as well as an echo chamber of their convoluted thought. Confronted with such texts, we, the readers, may react with puzzlement or skepticism, rejection or envy. In other words, reading a writer telling about her or his experiences engages our own selves. This class will be the occasion to examine how we read when faced with the “I” of the other. Primary readings may include texts by Antonin Artaud, Michel Leiris, Georges Perec, Roland Barthes, Colette Fellous, and Maryse Condé. Secondary readings may include texts by Michel de Montaigne, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martin Buber, and Marguerite Duras. Students will engage with the material in three steps: writing a reading journal; presenting their work-in-progress in class or during a symposium organized during the semester; writing a final essay. Conducted in French.

In addition to books and articles, we will make extensive use of video and audio material. Classes will all be synchronous and divided between lecture and small groups discussions.

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


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Writing, Languages Other Than English, Online Only


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2020