Spring 2022

"The Assassination of Literature:" the Case of the Novel

Listed in: French, as FREN-358


Raphael Sigal (Section 01)


In an essay titled “What is literature?” French philosopher Michel Foucault writes: “…It is characteristic that literature, ever since it has existed, since the nineteenth century, ever since it offered Western culture this strange figure we wonder about, it is characteristic that literature has always assigned itself a certain task, and that task is precisely the assassination of literature.” To investigate this symbolic assassination, we are going to read novels that confront and critique the traditional novel form. The writers we will read play with the conventions of the novel to interrogate the relationship between truth and fiction. They experiment with new narrative forms. They do not seek to create a fictional world that is realistic and similar to our world, but to open a gap between what happens inside the book and what happens around us in order to open our eyes and minds to new possibilities. The genre of the novel morphs into a philosophical and critical space that interrogates in turn the function of literature. Authors may include Samuel Beckett, Maurice Blanchot, Theresa Hak Kung Cha, Roland Barthes, Dany Laferrière, Eric Chevillard, and Hélène Cixous. Taught in French.Spring Semester. Professor Sigal.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, readings, oral presentations, group work, creative work. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Molloy (Minuit Double) Minuit Double Samuel Beckett Amherst Books TBD
Thomas l’obscur Imaginaire Gallimard Maurice Blanchot Amherst Books TBD
Dictée UC Press Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Amherst Books TBD
Bartleby Dover Herman Melville Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022