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Fall 2016

Course Titles and Descriptions. Fall 2016


Monday 4:15-6:15 French 84000
18th-Century Enlightenment. Professor Helena Rosenblatt


Tuesday 4:15-6:15 French 87100
Feminist Theory. (Dist.) Professor Domna Stanton

Tuesday 6:30-8:30 French 82000
Rabelais. Professor Bernd Renner

Wednesday  2:00-6:00 FSCP 81000 (cross-listed) Film/Art

Visual/Verbal Interrelations. (Dist.) Professor Mary Ann Caws 
Friday 11.30 am -1.30 pm

First-year Techniques of Literary Research, Professor Julia Przybos

Course Descriptions:

Professor Rosenblatt

French 84000 - The Eighteenth Century Enlightenment
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
It is a widely recognized fact that the modern Western world owes many of its fundamental--and most cherished-- concepts to the European Enlightenment. It is also true that since the mid-20th century, the Enlightenment has come under sustained attack. It is accused of a variety of purported sins, including Euro-centrism, imperialism, racism, sexism, and proto-totalitarianism. In this course, we will read texts by some of the most important writers of the Enlightenment (Rousseau especially, but also Montesquieu, Hume, Locke, Lessing, and Wollstonecraft) with a focus on the following themes: the social contract and the role of government, property and commerce, religion, race and slavery, sex and gender. We will also read recent critiques and defenses of the Enlightenment, with a view to deciding for ourselves what we might still be able to learn from it.

Professor Stanton
French 87100 - Feminist Theories and Their Differences
Tuesday 4:15-6:15     
This course will examine the various strains of feminist thought since the l970s, and strains within feminist theoretical positions.  Beginning with conflicts around poststructuralism and postmodernism, we will analyze the women's studies/gender studies issue; the paradigm shift that writing of women of color represented (and the invisibility of whiteness); the sex wars; écriture féminine; the essentialist debates;  postcolonial and transnational feminisms and (im)migration studies; women's rights as human rights; material feminisms, class and social inequalities; and queerness and transgenderism.  The course will end with summary readings of some of the theories we did not discuss: ecocriticism, disability studies, the posthuman and technoscience. Our last session will debate the necessary but problematic connections between advocacy and activism to theoretical work (praxis); the relation of feminist theories to other oppositional practices.
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 critical reading of one theoretical text,  a reading that 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-page paper on a topic they select, in consultation with the instructor. They will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
c.  Students who take the course for 4 credits will do all of the above, but instead of a 10-page paper, they will do a 20-25 page paper on a topic they select, in consultation with the instructor; they will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline (the scheduled will be indicated on the syllabus).
All readings and the syllabus for the course will be posted on Blackboard by August 20, 2016 at the latest.
Goals of the course:
1. to become conversant in the various theoretical strains in feminist thought from 1970s to today.
2. to develop a capacity to read feminist theoretical texts critically.
3. to write analyses and critiques of theoretical texts (for the final exam; for the class presentations; and either in the 10 -page paper for 3 credits or the 20-25 page paper for 4 credits.)
Please address all questions to Domna Stanton (
Professor Renner
Français 72000 - François Rabelais et l’humanisme
Tuesday 6: 30pm – 8: 30pm
Ce cours offre la possibilité d’étudier de manière approfondie les œuvres d’un des auteurs les plus importants du patrimoine littéraire mondial, François Rabelais. Les quatre livres authentiques des Chronicques pantagruelines de ce moine/médecin/humaniste constituent un tour de force linguistique, littéraire et culturel. Ils nous permettent donc un accès privilégié et fascinant à la France historique et humaniste au seuil des temps modernes ainsi qu’à une littérature « en devenir » dont les concepts et stratégies témoignent de ce flou créatif qui rend le seizième siècle si essentiel pour le développement ultérieur dans ces domaines (politique, social, intellectuel etc.). Une bonne compréhension des siècles suivants ne saurait être concevable sans l’étude de ce qu’on appelle d’habitude la « Renaissance », et nous ne nous référons pas seulement aux domaines à portée largement morale cités ci-dessus, mais aussi, et peut-être même davantage d’un point de vue « littéraire », à l’exemplarité en matière de poétique, de rhétorique et d’esthétique qui caractérise la première modernité. C’est aussi pour ces raisons que ce cours s’adresse à tous les étudiants de la langue, littérature et civilisation françaises et non pas seulement à ceux qui étudient la Renaissance.
Nous allons nous pencher sur une multitude d’aspects qui sortent de ces textes, tels que la question du genre, le jeu entre sens littéral et figuré ou bien le rôle du comique sous toutes ses facettes pour n’en mentionner que trois exemples. La binarité exemplaire du texte (populaire/sérieux, grossier/savant, prosaïque/ poétique etc.) qui dérive de ces analyses semble au cœur de l’intentionnalité d’une œuvre complexe et subtile, œuvre dont la modernité ne cesse de surprendre et ensuite d’enthousiasmer ses lecteurs. La lecture du texte rabelaisien sera complétée d’un choix d’autres auteurs primaires (Lucien, Érasme, Bonaventure Des Périers et d’autres) et d’études secondaires qui enrichiront nos discussions.
Pour des raisons pratiques, les étudiants sont priés de se procurer les éditions bilingues (version originale et français moderne) indiquées ci-dessous.
Liste des textes requis de François Rabelais:
Pantagruel, éd. G. Demerson (Paris: Seuil, 1996) ISBN 2-02-030033-8.
Gargantua, éd. G. Demerson (Paris: Seuil, 1996) ISBN 2-02-030032-X.
Le Tiers Livre, éd. G. Demerson (Paris: Seuil, 1997) ISBN 2-02-030176-8.
Le Quart Livre, éd. G. Demerson (Paris: Seuil, 1997) ISBN 2-02-030903-3.
Professor Caws
FSCP 81000 - Film Art: Visual/Verbal Interrelations  (Crosslisted with Film)
Wednesday 2:00pm-6:00pm
 My previous film courses have had to do with the representation of great works of literary art into film (James, etc., with the movements of Dada and Surrealism, and also with various careers as they have been represented: architecture, priesthood, librarianship, writings, etc. I want to consider again – thinking of the anxiety of representation, my original title, various picturings (biographical and documentary) of verbal and visual artists. Of particular interest are the deformations, additions, and omissions occasioned by the differing viewpoints of the writers, filmmakers, and directors, as well as the available stars and their strengths and weaknesses.
How we speak and write about the cinematic along with the pictorial and the literary is the point of this seminar. Readings and viewings will include selections such as the following, not necessarily these 1) novels and stories --Henry James (The Golden Bowl in its two versions, the Altar of the Dead), Marcel Proust (we would choose, depending on the participants and their concerns); Edith Wharton ( Age of Innocence), Virginia Woolf ( To the Lighthouse, Orlando) 2)  reading of Stéphane Mallarmé’s essays on dance and versions of dance films: Russian Ark, The Black Swan, Frederick Wiseman’s film La Danse, the Russian  ballet film, and so on; 3) films of Joseph Cornell and readings from his letters and source files together with Stan Brakhage’s Wonder Ring (backwards), Jerome Hill’s films overpainted  4)  surrealist films including Le Chien Andalou and writings by Dali, such as his novel Hidden Faces ; Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet;  or then, or extracts from  Les Parents Terrible, Les Enfants Teribles 5) if we can get Peter Greenaway’s presentations of Veronese  and his films with Tom Phillips,  such as  The Tempest; and Rembrandt’s “J’accuse” and “Nightwatching”. What kinds of very different questions are elicited by these interrelated concepts, works, and materials?
Readings will probably include, as well as the obvious ones in relation to these films  George Bluestone’s Novel into Film – and reference books on the relations of art and text, such as those by W.J.T. Mitchell on the side of theory, and on the visionary side: Joseph Cornell’s Theatre of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters and Files: (ed. M.A. Caws) and other writings on Cornell and his relation to surrealism; and readings from my The Eye in the Text and the Surrealist Look,: an Erotics of Encounter; Tom Phillips’ the Humument and other art books.
Let me give some examples of the kind of questions that arise: in “Carrington,” Christopher Hampton’s film about Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey, the male writer, Lytton, is allowed to be bisexual whereas Carrington, definitely bisexual also (see her writings about and nude portraits of Henrietta Bingham) is painted as heterosexual Why the complexities of one and not the other? Still on Bloomsbury, the renderings of To the Lighthouse, and the very great Orlando, with Tilda Swinton (how not?) and of the intrigue of Virginia Woolf and the no less interesting  Vita Sackville-West, glancing at the BBC version of their lives together with  the intrusive and unforgettable Violet Trefusis. We might, if there is time and interest, make a stab at films and videos about Picasso and his various mistresses, reading along with what is relevant. How to picture genius, that kind of thing. Speaking of genius, and given the genius of Derek Jarman, we may well confront his baroquely splendid Caravaggio, which we would see alongside Francine Prose’s book Caravaggio, and plunge into various films/biopics about Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, and the recent Mr. Turner.
RESUME: IN GENERAL:We will be especially dealing with diverse applications and interrelations of various ways in which the fields of art and literature have entered into the universe of film. Among our investigations some of the following will be included, depending on the interests of the participants, the time  slots and the availability of the DVDs, videos, and so on:

  1. novel, story, poem, and dance as they can be related to film-- certain questions of omission and deformation will arise
  2. paintings and film (artist biographies, video and exhibition films, gustatory visuality)
  3. performance art (dance, drama, musical concert)and film (poetic readings, opera,ballet) -- videos
  4. documentaries: Frederick Wiseman and the ballet, the art gallery and readings and viewings
    Each participant will present at least once an interrelation between some work of art and some film, and write on another interrelation for a final paper, so that each person will have a minimum of two investigations, preferably in two very different fields. Museum visits encouraged.
    Mary Ann Caws
    Distinguished Professor of French,, English, and Comparative Literature

Prof. Julia Przybos
Techniques of Literary Research I
Friday 11.30 am -1.30 pm
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 passages de La République et de Cratyle de Platon, La Poétique d’Aristote et L’Epître aux Pisons d’Horace. Nous lirons ensuite des extraits de L’Art poétique de Boileau, anis que ceux 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 ainsi que Baudelaire et sa vision de la modernité. Nous aborderons le XXème siècle par « Contre Sainte-Beuve » de Proust et des passages tirés du Cours de linguistique générale de Ferdinand de Saussure. Nous étudierons ensuite des courants de pensée qui ont marqué la première moitié du XXème siècle : la théorie marxiste (G. Lukacs), les formalistes russes (Chklovsky, Eichenbaum), ainsi que leurs « prolongements » structuralistes (Jakobson, Lévi-Strauss) et narratologiques (Tzvetan Todorov, Gérard Genette). Nous compléterons ces lectures théoriques par des textes de quelques auteurs qui ont profondément influencé la très riche production critique de la deuxième moitié du XXème siècle et du début du XXIème siècle (Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucauld, René Girard).
Dès le premier cours, les étudiants tenteront de déterminer le sujet qu’ils développeront dans un mémoire de 40 pages qu’ils remettront à la fin du semestre. En suivant un plan détaillé, ils remettront tout au long du semestre les ébauches de leur travail. Ces brouillons seront commentés et corrigés par le professeur. Il s’agira pour les étudiants de faire des recherches, d’embrasser une approche critique, de développer un argument raisonné et méthodique en français et de suivre de près le « style MLA ».
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition
Goals :
Students will gain knowledge of most important schools of thought in the history of literary criticism that, up to the raise of post-structuralism, dominated thinking about literature.
Students will become skilled in employing methodologies based on theories of literature to research a topic of their choice.
Students will learn to apply literary theory to the analysis of literary texts.
Students will write a 40 page graduate level research paper.
For more information please contact Prof. Przybos at