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Spring 2020 - Course Descriptions

French 71110 :  Problems in French Literary History (taught in French)   
 Professor Ali Nematollahy           
Tuesday, 10am-12pm    (mandatory for first-year students of French), 4 Credits.
French 87000 :  On Affect (Passion, Sentiment, Emotion): In Theory, History, Texts      
 Professor Domna Stanton            
Tuesday, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 2 or 4 Credits.
French 71000 :  Espaces, exclusions, identités de la fin du Moyen Âge jusqu’au XVIe siècle (taught in French)  
Professor Francesca Sautman     
Wednesday, 6:30pm-8:30pm,  2 or 4 Credits.
French 75000 : Boys to Men: Virility in Nineteenth-Century France (taught in French)     
 Professor Rachel Corkle  
Tuesday, 6:30pm-8:30pm,  2 or 4 Credits.
Sociology (cross-listed) :  Foucault, Bourdieu, and Baudrillard: Culture, Power, and Sexuality in the Global Era
Professor Marnia Lazreg  
Monday, 4:15pm-6:15pm,  2 or 4 Credits.

Fall 2019 – Course Descriptions

French 79130 : Contemporary Issues in Post-Colonial Sub-Sharan Francophone Literature and Film

Nathalie Etoke

Thursdays, 4:15pm-6:15pm

2 or 4 Crédits

Course description

2010 marked the 50 years of ‘African independences’. This course will explore various dimensions of the francophone post-colonial experience in Sub-Saharan Africa.  We will reflect on the legacy of colonialism and current challenges facing former French colonies. The focus will be on the failure of the postcolonial state, violence, memory, gender, sexuality and immigration. We will also address current debates in Francophone Sub-Saharan literary criticism.

The course will be taught in French,

French 87500: Maximal and Minimal

Prof. Mary Ann Caws

Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 (Last 5 weeks of Semester)

1 Credit

5 weeks, discussion and independent project

Excess, series, the epic poem, etc., examples: Georges Bataille, poetry of Charles Olson, etc. X Aphorisms, understatement, with examples: Whistler, Duchamp, Agnes Martin, Sol Lewitt. etc. How the major and minor play against each other, in the two semesters Fall and Spring 2019-2020. 

Fall dates:  October 23, October 30, November 6, November 3, November 20


French 70500: Writing the Self: From Augustine to Selfies 

Distinguished Prof. Domna Stanton 

Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15

2 or 4 Credits

How is the self written, visualized, constructed? What different forms and shapes do such texts take over time, in different genres? What purposes do they serve, for the several selves inscribed in a text and for others (including the self) who will read it.This course will begin by examining several theoretical texts on writing the self (Lejeune, Smith, Derrida, Butler, Stanton), then trace self-writing from the Middle Ages (Augustine, Kempe) through the early-modern periods, focusing on both the global (travel narratives on conquest --La Casas, Equiano), and on various forms (letter and diary, for instance) of gendered interiority (Gentileschi, Sévigné, Westover). Signal texts on post-Enlightenment confession and memoir (Rousseau, Sand) will be followed in the second half of the seminar by a more thematic approach to issues of modernity, including slavery and liberation always deferred (Jacobs, Douglass, Coates); modernism and the limits of experimentation (Woolf, Nin, Cahun); autofiction (Colette, Stein); dislocated, traumatized selves in wars and holocausts (de Beauvoir, Sartre, Anne Frank, Levi, Agamben, Henson [comfort women]); testimonio, the indigenous (Hurston, Menchu) and human rights narratives (Eggers); and French post-structuralism and the psychoanalytic (Barthes, Cardinal, Louise Bourgeois, Lacan). Our last two seminars will lead to a discussion of contemporary inscriptions of sexual and medical bodies, featuring birthing, AIDS, cancer and transgender selves (Arenas, Guibert, Bornstein, Leonard), and end with digital/virtual self-writing and the selfie (Abramovic, Smith, Giroux, Nemer and Freeman). Throughout, we will consider what the enduring obsession with confessing/revealing/ concealing; constructing and deconstructing selves might mean; and finally, whether, at bottom, all writing is self-writing

Work for the course: Whether the course is taken for 2, 3 or 4 credits, all students will be responsible for doing the readings closely and for engaging consistently in class discussion.
a, Students who take the course for 2 credits will present in class a reading of one primary text, which will also be submitted in writing (c 5-7 pp); these students will also take the final exam.
b, Students who take the course for 3 credits, will do all of the above and in addition, they will do a 10-13 page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor. They will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline, and the introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
c, Students who take the course for 4 credits will do all of the above, but will do a 20-25-page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor; they will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline, and an introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).

Please contact Domna Stanton with any questions (
The syllabus and the course materials to be downloaded will be posted on Blackboard by August 15, 2019.
The class will be conducted in English; readings are in English and French; all French readings will be listed in the syllabus along with their translations.

French 77010: Techniques of Literary research 

Prof. Erec Koch

Wednesdays 4:15pm – 6:15pm

2 or 4 Crédits

Course description: This course examines major theoretical approaches to literature, with a focus on critical theory of the late 20th century and early 21st century.  We will also consider the ways in which theory has shaped and re-shaped the field of literature and literary studies as well as modalities of reading, interpretation, analysis, and criticism of literary texts.  The approaches examined will include structuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxist/Marxian, semiotics (esp. intertextuality), deconstruction, Foucauldianism/New Historicism, and “distant reading”/text analysis.  Whenever possible, readings in critical theory will be paired with literary texts.  Students will be expected to build toward a final research paper of significant length from a series of assignments: reaction papers to readings, a proposal for a conference paper, a 3-5pp overview of the final paper, an in-class presentation on the paper, and submission of the final paper.  

The course is open only to first-year students in the PhD program in French; the course is taught in French.


French 76000: Ruptures: Roman/Théâtre/Théories aux XXème et XXIème siècles.

Prof. David Jones

Tuesdays 6:30pm – 8:30pm

2 or 4 Crédits

Readings and Discussion in French, open to students outside of French, who may write in English, (2-4 crs.). Check with the professor for details on the editions we will use.

In this course, we will focus on some of the major novels, plays and theoretical texts that changed our understanding of literary and theatrical creation in the 20th and 21st centuries. Beginning with Ubu Roi, and continuing thorough readings of writers such as Proust, Gide, Artaud, Genet, Beckett, Duras, Césaire, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Cixous, Derrida, Blanchot and Barthes, we will explore the (r)evolutions in the French and Francophone novel and theater since 1900.