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Amherst College French for 2019-20

101 Elementary French

This course features intensive work on French grammar, with emphasis on the acquisition of basic active skills (speaking, reading, writing and vocabulary building). We will be using the multimedia program, Totem, which employs only authentic French, allowing students to use the language colloquially and creatively in a short amount of time. Three hours a week for explanation and demonstration, plus small sections with French assistants. This course prepares students for FREN 103. For students without previous training in French.

Fall and spring semesters. Senior Lecturer Uhden and Assistants.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

103 Intermediate French

Intensive review and coverage of all basic French grammar points with emphasis on the understanding of structural and functional aspects of the language and acquisition of the basic active skills (speaking, reading, writing and systematic vocabulary building). We will be using the multimedia program, Imaginez. Three hours a week for explanation and demonstration, plus small sections with French assistants. This course prepares students for FREN 205.

Requisite: FREN 101 or two years of secondary school French. Fall and spring semesters. Senior Lecturer Uhden and Assistants.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

205 Language and Literature

An introduction to the critical reading of French literary and non-literary texts; a review of French grammar; training in composition, conversation and listening comprehension. Texts will be drawn from significant short stories, poetry and films. The survey of different literary genres serves also to contrast several views of French culture. Successful completion of FREN 205 prepares students for FREN 207 or 208. Conducted in French. Three hours a week.

Requisite: FREN 103 or three to four years of secondary school French. Fall semester: Professors de la Carrera and Nader-Esfahani. Spring semester: Professor de la Carrera.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

207 Introduction to French Literature and Culture

Through class discussion, debates, and frequent short papers, students develop effective skills in self-expression, analysis, and interpretation. Literary texts, articles on current events, and films are studied within the context of the changing structures of French society and France’s complex relationship to its recent past. Assignments include both creative and analytic approaches to writing. Some grammar review as necessary, as well as work on understanding spoken French using video materials. Highly recommended for students planning to study abroad.

Requisite: FREN 205, or completion of AP French, or four years of secondary school French in a strong program. Fall semester: Professor Katsaros. Spring semester: Professors Rockwell and Sigal.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

208 French Conversation

To gain as much confidence as possible in idiomatic French, we discuss French social institutions and culture, trying to appreciate differences between French and American viewpoints. Our conversational exchanges will touch upon such topics as French education, art and architecture, the status of women, the spectrum of political parties, minority groups, religion, and the position of France and French-speaking countries in the world. Supplementary work with audio and video materials.

Requisite: FREN 205, or completion of AP French, or four years of secondary school French in a strong program. Limited to 16 students. Fall semester: Professor Sigal. Spring semester: Professors Nader-Esfahani and Katsaros.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

210 Shapes of Utopia: Radical French Architects and Urban Planners, from Boullée to Le Corbusier

(Offered as ARCH 210 and FREN 210) This course will introduce students to visionary French architects and urban planners who attempted to redefine perceptions of private and public space. Taking the visions of Enlightenment architects Louis-Etienne Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux as a starting point, we will explore the many shapes of utopian design, all the way to Pierre Chareau’s 1932 “Maison de verre” in the heart of Paris and Le Corbusier’s futuristic blueprint “towards a modern architecture.” We will assess these designs in their historical and cultural context while tying them to broader issues of private life, political authority, and gender and class distinctions. One of the main themes that will guide our investigation will be the idea of architecture as an element of social cohesion and political harmony. The last part of the course will be devoted to an analysis of architecture and urban planning in the French Empire during the colonial era, with particular attention to North Africa (especially Algiers). Course materials will be drawn from visual sources (drawings, prints, maps, plans), essays by architects and city planners, critical essays by architectural historians, film, and fiction. This course requires no previous knowledge either of French or of architectural history.

Omitted 2019-20. Professor Katsaros.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

320 Literary Masks of the Late French Middle Ages

The rise in the rate of literacy which characterized the early French Middle Ages coincided with radical reappraisals of the nature and function of reading and poetic production. This course will investigate the ramifications of these reappraisals for the literature of the late French Middle Ages. Readings may include such major works as Guillaume de Dole by Jean Renart, the anonymous Roman de Renart, the Roman de la Rose by Guillaume de Lorris, selections from the continuation of the Roman de la Rose by Jean de Meun, anonymous Fabliaux, and poetic works by Christine de Pisan, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and Charles d’Orléans. Particular attention will be paid to the philosophical presuppositions surrounding the production of erotic allegorical discourse. We shall also address such topics as the relationships between lyric and narrative and among disguise, death and aging in the context of medieval discourses on love. All texts will be read in modern French. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Rockwell.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2019

321 Amor and Metaphor in the Early French Middle Ages

The eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed social, political, and poetic innovations that rival in impact the information revolution of recent decades. Essential to these innovations was the transformation from an oral to a book-oriented culture. This course will investigate the problems of that transition, as reflected in such major works of the early French Middle Ages as: The Song of Roland, the Tristan legend, the Roman d’Eneas, the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes, anonymous texts concerning the Holy Grail and the death of King Arthur. We shall also address questions relevant to this transition, such as the emergence of medieval allegory, the rise of literacy, and the relationship among love, sex, and hierarchy. All texts will be read in modern French. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Rockwell.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018

324 Studies in Medieval Romance Literature and Culture

The study of a major author, literary problem, or question from the medieval period with a particular focus announced each time the course is offered. The topic for Spring 2020 is: "The Grail, the Rose, and Dante." We will study the social, philosophical, poetic and institutional currents that contribute to the emergence of allegorical texts in the period between the twelfth and the late-fourteenth centuries. Readings include the Quest for the Holy Grail and works by Chrétien de Troyes, Guillaume de Lorris, Jean de Meung, Dante Alighieri, and Marie de France. All readings will be done in English translation. Conducted in English.

Spring semester: Professor Rockwell.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2017

326 Writing Under the Influence: Italy and the Literature of Renaissance France

In matters of conquest, political alliance, or arts and letters, France’s interactions with Italy during the sixteenth century have left a significant imprint on its history, its language and literature, and even its national identity. With the Italian Renaissance preceding the French, French rulers, thinkers, and artists alike looked across the Alps for inspiration and innovation, and voyages to Italy almost became an obligatory rite of passage for the educated Frenchman. Alongside this admiration, however, was a growing sentiment of suspicion and even rejection, deploring the presence of Italians in the French court.

This course will explore some of the complexities of these relationships by developing three principal threads. The first will offer an examination of sixteenth-century French literature in dialogue with the works of some of the major figures in Italian literary history, such as Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Castiglione, to explore how French writers in turn draw and deviate from the Italian model in their poetry, short stories or nouvelles, and depictions of courtly practice. The second thread places French writers and thinkers on the path to Italy to investigate instead their observations and representations of their Italian experience. And finally, we will read a number of texts expressing the discontent of the French with Italian presence on their soil. We will pay particular attention to those works targeting the Queen Mother (Catherine de’ Medici) and those attacking Machiavelli to better understand the phenomenon of “machiavélisme,” its contribution to Italophobia, and its role in France’s religious wars.

All French texts will be read in French. Italian texts will be read in French or English translation. Students with knowledge of Italian may read texts in the original language. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Nader-Esfahani.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

328 Trial and Error: An Interdisciplinary Experiment with Montaigne's Essais

"If my mind could gain a firm footing, I would not make essays, I would make decisions; but it is always in apprenticeship and on trial" (III, 2 "Of Repentance"). A Renaissance jurist and thinker, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is widely recognized as one of the key figures in the history of self-writing and of the essay as genre. This course, however, situates Montaigne beyond these two frames. In the spirit of Montaigne himself, it proposes to attempt, to sample, to taste—in sum, to essay—the Essais (1580-1595). From confessions of impotence to love affairs with books; from rebuttals of human reason to reflections on solitude and age; from networks of exchange to disease and contagion, the uncategorizable content of the Essais, combined with a dynamic form replete with detours and deviations, is an invitation to err among and try a variety of subjects. Similarly, our objective is not to gain expertise, but to experiment and to experience. Our trials will combine a close reading of a selection of Montaigne’s Essais alongside critical, historical, or theoretical texts from a diverse range of methodologies and fields, such as medicine, sound studies, cultural gerontology and more. In addition to engaging with the writings of Montaigne, this course therefore serves as a more general opportunity to consider the place of literature among and within other disciplines. Conducted in French.

Requisite: FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Fall Semester. Professor Nader-Esfahani.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019

329 True or False: The Search for Reality in Early Modern France

The Age of Information Technology has broadened our access to material from all around the world and has connected us to people and regions that would otherwise remain in the shadows. Furthermore, the Internet has given voice to another body, that of ordinary people, that now exists alongside more conventional authorities and outlets. Social media enables every individual to publicize him or herself and become a public figure; Wikipedia now co-exists alongside scholarly journals and academic e-books; WikiLeaks and hacking bring private matters of leaders and everyday people into the public eye; and Twitter has become a formidable rival to traditional news outlets in its release of breaking news. Conversely, this same democratization of information, in both its production and its representation, has problematized the relationship between the private and the public, and it has raised questions about the truth behind these multiple and often conflicting realities. Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information and by myriad perspectives, how can we ever be certain of what we know? How do we distinguish the true from the false, essence from appearance?

A period marked by a flourishing print culture and the production and circulation of knowledge, by religious and political conflicts, by new discoveries, inventions and methods of scientific inquiry, and by multiple arenas for “talk” and criticism—from town squares to court, from personal correspondence to the essay, from the poem to the pamphlet—early modern France offers a compelling point of comparison as we reflect upon these questions. What constitutes a lie? How is opinion constructed, and how might it differ from truth? What, or who, is a truth-teller? What role do rumor and gossip play in creating or challenging beliefs and reputations? What happens when something private is made public? Is the public face of an individual to be trusted, or is it simply mask? What is evidence? Why is the notion of “illusion” a central preoccupation of writers, especially at the turn of the century? In this course, we will investigate the dynamic among the false, the real, and the true, and we will examine how rumor, gossip, belief, opinion, appearance, doubt, evidence, and judgment work to create, interrogate, and even undo truths and falsehoods. Readings will draw on works of fiction and non-fiction from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and may include major figures such as Ronsard, Marguerite de Navarre, Montaigne, Descartes, Corneille, Madame de Sévigné, Madame de Lafayette, and Racine. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Nader-Esfahani.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018

330 The Doing and Undoing of Genres in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

This course explores the formation and transformation of various genres in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, with a particular focus announced each time the course is offered. The topic for Spring 2019 is "The Eighteenth-Century Novel and Theater in France." Readings include texts by Diderot, Voltaire, Marivaux, Prévost, Laclos, and Beaumarchais. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor de la Carrera.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Spring 2019

331 Refractions: Optics & Literature in Early Modern France

From the inverted retinal image to the invention of the telescope and microscope, the seventeenth century marks a pivotal moment in the history of vision and optical instruments. What are the repercussions of discovering a retinal image that is but an effect of light and color, and realizing that the world as the eye sees it is literally upside down? What does one make of telescopic and microscopic observations that show objects other than they appear and which unveil worlds beyond what the eye can see? Is the eye, once deemed the most noble of the senses, no longer a reliable form of knowledge? What does this mean for the viewing and knowing subject and his/her knowledge of the world and of him/herself in the world?

This course is an investigation of these transformations and their consequences, not only in scientific circles, but among writers who engage with, adopt, and adapt these objects and observations in their thought. More generally, by examining scientific debates and French writings from a period that precedes the disciplinary divide, this course aims to interrogate and understand the very categories of “literature” and “science.” We will analyze literature’s integration of scientific thought and findings, the language and rhetoric of scientific writings, texts that defy categorization or blur disciplinary lines, as well as broader considerations on the relationship between curiosity, marvel, imagination, invention, and discovery. Readings may include Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, Cyrano de Bergerac, Corneille, Baroque poetry, and more. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Spring semester. Professor Nader-Esfahani.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

333 Dialogues Across Space and Time: Twentieth-Century Reinterpretations of the Eighteenth Century

The ideas of the French Enlightenment and the events of the French Revolution have been a source of fascination for twentieth-century writers from countries as diverse as the United States, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Cuba. Which issues have provoked this dialogue across space and time? How do twentieth-century writers reinterpret those issues to fit a modern context? What are the ideological and literary concerns that resonate across the centuries? We will try to answer these and other questions by reading a group of twentieth-century works with and against a group of seminal eighteenth-century texts. Readings from the twentieth century will include Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, Milan Kundera’s Jacques and his Master, Cathleen Schine’s Rameau’s Niece, and Alejo Carpentier’s Explosion in the Cathedral. Readings from the eighteenth century will include Voltaire’s Candide, Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, and Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist and Rameau’s Nephew. We will also view films by Patrice Leconte, Robert Bresson, and François Truffaut. Conducted in English.

Omitted 2019-20. Professor de la Carrera.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

334 From Sprezzatura to Social Media: Practices of Self-Representation in Seventeenth-Century France and Today

When the Renaissance philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne wrote that "dissimulation is among the most notable qualities of this century," the word "notable" referred to the prevalence rather than an appreciation of the practice. This course examines the subject of self-representation in light of the culture of dissimulation that dominated the early modern period. To what extent is our behavior codified by society? How do the public and private spaces we inhabit inform self-representation? How do our interlocutors condition our degree of sincerity or caution? How do we conceal our intentions and emotions, and how do our words and bodies sometimes betray our true thoughts and feelings?

Beginning with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century works that theorize and propose models of conduct in public spaces, we will first seek to define simulation, dissimulation, and sincerity and the circumstances in which they are applied. We will also identify the possible consequences of these acts. We will then turn our attention to works of fiction and non-fiction from the seventeenth-century to analyze how these ideas manifest themselves in practice. Finally, we will discuss how early modern texts and their engagement with this subject allow us to critically consider our contemporary practices of self-representation, especially in light of our own culture of curated social media profiles.

All French texts will be read in French, and those not originally written in French will be read in French or English translation. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Nader-Esfahani.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

338 The Republic of Letters

An exploration of Enlightenment thought within the context of the collaborative institutions and activities that fostered its development, including literary and artistic salons, cafés, and the Encyclopédie. We will read texts by Rousseau, Diderot, Voltaire, and others, drawn from the domains of literature, philosophy, memoirs, and correspondence. To get a better idea of what it might have been like to live in the eighteenth century and be a participant in the “Republic of Letters,” we will also read a variety of essays in French cultural history. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Fall semester: Professor de la Carrera.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2011, Fall 2017

339 Worldliness and Otherworldliness

Many eighteenth-century writers imagined and invented other, better societies. To attenuate their criticisms of the social, political, and religious structures of the ancien régime, they had recourse to the viewpoint of fictional "outsiders" who arrive in France as if for the first time and describe what they see in minute and telling detail. We will analyze the role that these "other" worlds and the "otherworldly" point of view played in the development of eighteenth-century thought and literature, as well as some of the repercussions that these questions have had in twentieth-century thought. Readings will include Montesquieu's Lettres persanes, Rousseau's Discours sur l'origine de l'inégalité, Diderot's Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, and Madame de Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne, as well as Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents and a selection of essays by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Spring semester: Professor de la Carrera.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

340 Colonial Cultures: Images of the French Colonial Empire

In the early years of the twentieth century, the French Colonial Empire stretched from Algiers to Antananarivo and from Hanoi to Cayenne. The Maghreb, French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, the Indo-Chinese peninsula, and Madagascar all lived under French rule. This course will analyze the creation and dissemination of “colonial cultures” in the wake of French imperialism. From the early nineteenth century on, military conquest went hand in hand with the production of a diverse and wide-ranging colonial imaginary. Schoolbooks, colonial exhibitions, natural history museums, visual artefacts ranging from paintings to advertisements, literary works, songs, and films inspired by “Greater France” proliferated in French culture. Drawing from selected case studies, we will explore the many forms taken by the French colonial imagination. We will also examine critiques of colonialism, as well as strategies and modalities of resistance to the colonial imaginary. Conducted in French.

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

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Katsaros.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018

346 Enfants Terribles: Childhood in French Literature and Culture from Rousseau to the Surrealist

Images of childhood have become omnipresent in our culture. We fetishize childhood as an idyllic time, preserved from the difficulties and compromises of adult life; but the notion that children’s individual lives are worth recording is a relatively modern one. Drawing from literature, children's literature, anthropology, philosophy, art, and film, we will try to map out the journey from the idea of childhood as a phase to be outgrown to the modern conception of childhood as a crucial moment of self-definition. We will pay particular attention to the issues of nature against nurture through the example of the "wild child" Victor. We will also discuss theories of child-rearing, the emergence of children’s literature, and the importance of childhood in avant-garde movements.  

Readings will include selections from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s treatise on education, L’Emile; Victor de l'Aveyron by Dr. Jean Itard; Les Malheurs de Sophie by the Comtesse de Ségur; stories by Guy de Maupassant; selected poems Baudelaire and Rimbaud; Jules Vallès, L'Enfant; and the Surrealist play Victor ou les enfants au pouvoir by Roger Vitrac. We will examine nineteenth-century artists' visions of childhood, with a particular emphasis on female artists such as Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and Berthe Morisot. We will also discuss classic films by René Clément and François Truffaut as well as contemporary French films about childhood. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Katsaros.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018

352 The Space In-Between: Writing Exile and Return in the Twentieth Century

The twentieth century was a century of migrations. Many writers and poets experienced exile, whether displaced by the furious violence of history, forced out of their country by an unbearable political situation, or simply led by their literary ambition. For many, the host country becomes a problematic permanent residency; for others, it is only a passage before an often painful return to the native land. These various experiences intensely mark authors' relationship to writing: suspended between two countries, two languages, and two cultures, these poets and writers form challenging conceptions of space and time. In the midst of a violent century, the book becomes a refuge against savagery, or on the contrary a place to cry out one's rage; an intimate territory in a foreign world, a space of questioning and reflection. We will read texts by Aimé Césaire, Benjamin Fondane, Edmond Jabès, Georges Perec, Fatou Diome and Gaspard Njock, and watch films by Nurith Aviv, and Manthia Diawara. Theoretical texts will include essays by Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Edouard Glissant, and Edward Said, among others. Conducted in French.

Requisite: FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Fall semester: Professor Sigal.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

357 I See Voices!, Experiments in Language

In 1868, a mysterious 22-year-old writer calling himself the Comte de Lautréamont published The Songs of Maldoror. Of the eponymous hero of the book, Lautréamont wrote: “He is as handsome as the retractility of the claws in birds of prey; or, again, as the unpredictability of muscular movement in sores in the soft spot of the posterior cervical region; or, rather, as the perpetual motion rat-trap which is always reset by the trapped animal and which can go on catching rodents indefinitely and works even when it is hidden under straw; and, above all, as the chance juxtaposition of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table!” Do you understand what Lautréamont means? I do and I do not. I do not understand, but I see what he means. I see a world which does not resemble the world as I experience it. A world where beauty is neither aesthetically pleasing nor universal, where flowers are evil and rat-traps endlessly inspiring. For many critics, The Songs of Maldoror marked the birth of literary modernity in French. Writers who wished to create new modes of writing and of representing the world set out to destroy meaning. Dictionaries became useless, the textual became eminently visual, and language created new worlds, as the distinctions between prose and poetry, between reality and dreams, collapsed. In this course, we will follow avant-garde writers’ experiments in thinking language anew: not as a set of fixed relationships, but as a perpetual movement between words and objects. We will read primary sources by Arthur Rimbaud, Comte de Lautréamont, Dada, the Surrealists, Henri Michaux, Gherasim Luca and Hélène Cixous; and critical sources by Plato, Ferdinand de Saussure and Michel Foucault, among others. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following: French 207, 208 or the equivalent. Spring semester: Professor Sigal.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020

359 "What's the Magic Word?" The Power of Literature

The Oxford English Dictionary defines magic as “the use of ritual activities or observances which are intended to influence the course of events or to manipulate the natural world.” Sorcerers use recipes, incantations, and actions, to bend the natural order of things. In this course, we will question why some of the most prominent writers in French modernity have engaged with magical thought in their works. In the nineteenth century, numerous authors used magic as a metaphor to express the irrationality inhibited by a culture obsessed with reason and progress. In the twentieth century, avant-garde movements embraced this trend: writers, poets and artists were avid practitioners of fortune telling, telepathy, astrology and numerology. Concurrently, magic became a prominent subject of modern ethnologists: magical thinking articulated both the dawn of science in religious societies and the persistence of religion in scientific societies, and thus allowed ethnologists to cross-examine two phenomena essential to defining modern societies. Authors took a great interest in these findings. We could link their interest to a desire to produce a language made of words that “do things.” In a way, writers are like magicians whose incantations do not function anymore, as if their language had lost its power. In this course, we will read both literature and ethnology to investigate the ways in which magical thinking infused the birth of literary modernity. We will read literary works by Flaubert (Madame Bovary), Nerval, Artaud, Breton, and Césaire; and critical and ethnographical texts by Mauss, Levi-Strauss, Métraux, De Certeau and Bailly. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Sigal.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

369 Madame Butterfly Lives: Cross-Cultural Exchanges in France and Japan

(Offered as ASLC 338 and FREN 369) In 1867, in the waning days of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Japanese authorities dispatched several geisha to the Paris World Exposition to represent a country few Europeans knew anything about. Since these inauspicious beginnings, the culture of each country has come to have a decisive hold on the imagination of the other across a wide array of fields. By the time Jean-Paul Sartre arrived in Tokyo almost a century later, the cultural ties were so extensive that the French philosopher was greeted by a media frenzy normally reserved for celebrities. Today, Japanese comic books are widely available in French translation, and French cinema shows regularly on Japanese screens. This interdisciplinary course tracks the circulation of texts, ideas, images, and people between France and Japan from the late nineteenth century to the present, allowing us to address issues of national identity, Orientalism, exoticism, gender, media culture, and artistic modernism, among other themes. Course materials will be drawn from literature, visual art, opera, film, dance, fashion, design, philosophy, and history. The class is taught in English and requires no prior knowledge of either country.

Spring 2020. Professor Van Compernolle and Professor Katsaros.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

410H French in Practice for Senior Majors

The course provides a forum for seniors for the practice of spoken French at the advanced level with native speakers. Students will prepare and deliver presentations; practice interviewing techniques; and learn and practice using technical vocabulary from a variety of disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The choice of short readings and vocabulary sets will vary each time the course is offered and will reflect the interests of the students enrolled.

Open only to Senior French majors. Spring semester. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

473 Books That Bind

(Offered as FREN 473 and ARHA 473) This seminar stages the connections, associations, and interactions that bind together books and their users. It is premised upon the idea that books (manuscripts, printed texts, digital publications, and related media) initiate complex exchanges and relations: they enrich our world, affect our perceptions, stimulate our sensations, and trigger our emotions. Knowledge perpetuates itself in books: books are the crossroads where one consciousness pursues the consciousness of the other, the dwellings where communities are founded or dismantled, and faiths united and untied. In this seminar, we will bring together the methodologies of art history, textual analysis, ethnography, material culture, and art making and curating in order to investigate the place of books in our society and in history. Each session will be devoted to a singular aspect of the book, broadly conceived. Possible topics may include the book as an object of collection; colonial and post-colonial uses of the book; the intersection of body and codex; the book as talisman and amulet; diverse practices of reading and assembling the page; the precarious status of the author; and the materiality of the book. In parallel, throughout the semester, students will conceive an exhibition (and an exhibition catalog) about the Book, to be presented at Frost Library. Conducted in English.

Requisite: One course in ARHA, FREN, HIST, ANTH, or related discipline. Consent required for first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professors Sigal and Rice.

2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor required. Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

A single course.

Fall semester. The Department.

2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018