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Fall 2013


Fall 2013 Courses



FRENCH 71110

Problems in French Literary History: The Novel
Professor Domna Stanton

Course conducted in French.

GC 4:15-6:15pm
Room 4202.11, 2/4 credits


FRENCH 87400

Autobiographie et autofiction : traditions, définitions, déviations
Professor Thomas Spear

Course conducted in French.

GC 6:30-8:30pm
Room 4202.11, 2/4 credits


French 86000

Le roman arabe d'expression française
Professor Marlène Barsoum

Course conducted in French.

GC 4:15-6:15pm 
Room 4202.11, 2/4 credits

French 70700

Myth in Literature and Film
Professor Royal Brown

Course conducted in French.

GC 6:30-8:30pm
Room 4202.11, 2/4 credits


French 77010

Techniques of Literary Research I
Professor Julia Przybos

GC 11:45am-1:45pm

See Also:

Comp. Lit. 85000: Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Professor André Aciman
Tuesday, 4:15-6:15pm, 4 credits

Comp. Lit. 89400: Theory and Practice of Translation
Professor Bettina Lerner
Wednesday, 6:30-8:30pm, 4 credits

This seminar explores the history and theory of literary translation in the West. We will read and discuss major theoretical texts that have delineated the field of translation studies from Cicero and St. Augustine to Du Bellay, Dolet, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Benjamin, Jakobson, Borges, Nida, Derrida, Berman, Spivak and Apter in order to work our way through the various aesthetic, ethical and political questions raised by the practice of translation. We will also compare different translations of literary texts in order to examine how the linguistic and stylistic choices that translators must make carry ideological weight. At the end of the term, each student will prepare either a literary or theoretical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a critical introduction. The class will be taught in English, but participants should have working knowledge of at least one language other than English.

English 80200: Anxieties of Modernist Representation
Professor Mary Ann Caws
Wednesday, 4:15-6:15pm

This seminar takes as its principle that anxiety and uncertainty provoke our thinking and seeing more effectively than pre-established categories, and that initial confusion can clarify more interestingly than straightforward structure. Among the kinds of problems that might be entailed in the visual and verbal interpretation are: how figure relates to ground, foreground to background, abstract to figural, detail to overall or global, the relation of romantic and contemporary wandering line in character and in art to the stroll of the flaneur and the flaneuse, the singular to the series and to the collective (it might be fun to bring in the fascinations and frictions of writers’ and artists’ colonies here), the regular to the irregular, the miniature to the epic, the expected to the extremes of landscape, seascape, and cityscape, and, above all and always, how do we relate our interpretation of reading to that of seeing. The overall notion is that the unresolved and problematic – on the part of the creator and the observer-participant - is more gripping than the resolved, an idea determined in itself to be modestly provoking, without rewarding itself the optimistic label of the provocative. Which issues we will finally work on will be determined in relation to the interests of the gathered group. Certain of the artists and writers joining us, among others, are likely to inhabit a stretch from Mallarmé and Manet to Meret Oppenheim, from Gertrude Stein to Sartre, from Artaud to Beckett and Breton, from Paula Modersohn-Becker to Rilke, from Claude Cahun and Unica Zurn to Virginia Woolf, Francesca Woodman and Joseph Cornell, modernists all. Note: Students interested in registering for courses in other departments are encouraged to do so during the first day of registration, to assure securing a spot.


Course Descriptions


FRENCH 71110
Problems in French Literary History: The Novel (In French)
GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15, 2/4 credits, Professor Domna Stanton

This course on the history and theory of the novel will begin with a set of readings (Scholes, Bakhtin, Brooks, Genette, Barthes, Sedgwick) on aspects of narrative and narratology. We will then read closely six novels beginning with La Princesse de Clèves and Les liaisons dangereuses, followed by Ourika and Madame Bovary, and ending with Du côté de chez Swann and Djebar's Ombre sultane. Our discussions will be informed by critical readings for each text.

Goals of this course include: gaining an understanding of the sweep of the French novel, reading novels intensively for their narratological, thematic and ideological/political and gender scripts, writing analytical papers on literary texts, doing literary research, reading critical theory critically, and improving spoken and written literary/critical French.

Work for the course, over and above class preparation and participation, involves two short papers 5-7 pp), a final paper (topic developed in consultation with the instructor) and a final exam.

The course will be conducted in French; written work will be in French for students in French; students from other departments may write their papers in English.

FRENCH 87400
Autobiographie et autofiction : traditions, définitions, déviations (In French)
GC: Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30, 2/4 credits, Professor Thomas Spear

Notre interrogation sur les traditions, définitions et déviations de la forme autobiographique portera sur la structure des voix narratives, les liens affectifs de l’individu envers une identité collective, et les formes prises par la (re)construction de l’identité et de la mémoire. Nous privilégierons les textes qui troublent la ligne de démarcation entre fiction et autobiographie, avec une attention particulière au(x) je(ux) d’identité autobiographique dans la médiation paratextuelle (presse écrite, radio, télévision, Internet).

Nous examinerons des exemples les plus classiques de l’autobiographie, dont celle de Rousseau, et une autobiographie traditionnelle telle que Les mots (Sartre) ou La vie sans fards (Condé). À la définition de l’autobiographie de Philippe Lejeune, nous opposerons de nombreuses variantes critiques. Les paradigmes narratologiques et les théories de réception serviront à comparer le texte et son paratexte, le narrateur-personnage et l’auteur, et l’auteur devant son lecteur réel ou imaginé.

Le mot « autofiction » ne serait né qu’avec Serge Doubrovsky, mais la forme existe depuis longtemps. On regardera des prédécesseurs (Céline, Genet) et des exemples plus contemporains (Duras, Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute). Les théoriciens-praticiens tels que Doubrovsky et Régine Robin permettront une mise en question de l’entreprise critique comme le feront les autofictions qui dépassent la page écrite (Sophie Calle, Chloé Delaume, Hervé Guibert).

D’une dizaine d’auteurs exemplaires, quatre seront choisis pour une étude approfondie. Les projets individuels porteront sur une autobiographie, une autofiction ou sur un ouvrage autobiographique appelé « roman » ou « récit » (par ex., de Bugul, J.J. Dominique, Djebar, Laferrière, Mabanckou, Serhane ou Taïa).

FRENCH 86000
Le roman arabe d'expression française (In French)
GC: Thursdays, 4:15-6:15, 2/4 credits, Professor Marlène Barsoum

In French The following selection of writers hailing from North Africa and the Middle East will be studied in this course with an eye on highlighting the religious and ethnic diversity of the Arab world : Andrée Chedid (Egypt/ Lebanon/France), Edmond Jabès (Egypt/France), Tahar ben Jelloun (Morocco/France), Malika Mokeddem (Algeria/France), Albert Memmi (Tunisia/France) and Leila Sebbar (Algeria/France).

The condition of being embedded in more than one culture has had a considerable impact on the writings of the novelists on the program. We will discuss that imprint by examining tropes pertaining to the crossing of boundaries such as the notion of exile, home, the ethics of hospitality, the importance of language to identity, and the construction of self and the perception/construction of the other.

In recent times, we have seen a heightened preoccupation with the question of war which consequently has become a prevalent topic in multiple domains. We will therefore open up a discussion about the discourse on war which can be both historical and figurative and which reevaluates relationships between the individual and the collective and their confrontation with the other. Such a discourse raises questions on perception of otherness – the operative metaphor in discussions surrounding war. This will lead to an analysis of the notion of identity, a topic which has been under scrutiny by writers and theorists alike for the past few decades.

Required reading:

Ben Jelloun, Tahar. L’enfant de sable

Chedid, Andrée. La Maison sans racines

Jabès, Edmond. Le Soupçon, le désert

Maalouf, Amin. Les Identités meurtrières

Memmi. Albert. La statue de sel

Mokeddem, Malika. Les hommes qui marchent

Sebbar, Leila & Nancy Houston. Lettres parisiennes, autopsie de l’exil

FRENCH 70700
Myth in Literature and Film (In French)
GC: Thursdays, 6:30-8:30pm, 2/4 credits, Professor Royal Brown

The course will focus first of all on the very phenomenon of myth: how it relates to the cultures that produce it, and the ways in which it communicates. Various specific myths, such as the myth of Orpheus, will be examined, along with their manifestations in two films, Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (1950) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), which is based on a French novel, along with various other works found in French literature and film. The course will also focus on various contemporary theories of myth from writers such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, René Girard, and Mircea Éliade as well as on several non-French theorists such as Joseph Campbell and Carl-Gustav Jung. Works of French literature and film will be studied as illustrations of these theories.

FRENCH 77010
Techniques of Literary Research I
GC: Fridays, 11:45am-1:45pm, 4 credits, Professor Julia Przybos

L’objectif de ce cours est double : étudier quelques textes fondateurs de la théorie littéraire et rédiger un mémoire en français d’une quarantaine de pages. L’étude des textes marquants de la critique littéraire écrits ou traduits en français initiera les étudiants aux multiples façons de penser la littérature. Nous commencerons par les Anciens, à savoir des extraits de La République de Platon, La Poétique d’Aristote et La Lettre aux Pison d’Horace. Nous lirons ensuite des extraits de L’Art poétique de Boileau, Du beau et du sublime de Kant et Du Laocoon de Lessing. Parmi les théoriciens du XIXème siècle nous retiendrons Taine et sa conception déterministe de l’œuvre littéraire et Baudelaire est sa vision de la modernité. Nous aborderons le XXème siècle par « Contre Sainte-Beuve » de Proust, Le Rire de Bergson et des passages tirés du Cours de linguistique générale de De Saussure. Nous étudierons ensuite des courants qui ont marqué la première moitié du XXème siècle : la pensée marxiste (G. Lukacs), les formalistes russes (Chklovsky et Eichenbaum), les structuralistes (Jakobson et Lévi-Strauss). Nous compléterons ces lectures par des textes de théoriciens qui, tout en prolongeant et développant les approches formelles, se distinguent par leur importance parmi la très riche production critique de la deuxième moitié du XXème siècle (e.g. Tzvetan Todorov, Michael Riffatterre, Umberto Eco). La pensée féministe et le concept du genre, Freud et la critique d’inspiration freudienne, Michel Foucault et sa descendance intellectuelle seront étudiés, parmi d’autres critiques et théoriciens, dans Techniques of Literary Research II.