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Spring 2017 Course Descriptions
- Problems in French Literary Literary History: The Novel Prof. Bettina Lerner
GC: TH, 4:15-6:15,
Professor Bettina Lerner (in French)
In this seminar we will examine the evolution of the French novel from the early modern period to the twentieth century. We will begin with a brief overview of theoretical challenges posed by the novel as a literary genre that has repeatedly redefined itself. We will then explore how this protean narrative form developed into a privileged site for cultural struggle. Over the course of the semester, we will see how each novel we read frames and negotiates a number of tensions that structure the specific historical iteration of the literary field in which they intervene, including sentimentality and realism, politics and aesthetics, high and low, individual and society, history and memory. Discussion will be in French. Students in the French department must write their final papers in French. Students from other departments may choose to write their final papers in English. Novels will most likely include: Madame de La Fayette's La Princesse de Clèves, lAbbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut, George Sand's Indiana, Gustave Flaubert's L'Éducation sentimentale, Marcel Proust's Du Côté de chez Swann and Georges Perec's W, ou le souvenir d'enfance.
- (Un)Classical Bodies (in English).
GC: T, 4:15-6:15
Professor Domna Stanton
This course will examine diverse and dissimilar constructions of the body in seventeenth-century France. We will begin by examining recent theories of the early-modern body in Bakhtin, Elias, Lacqueur, and Bordo, but most notably (and influentially) in Foucault and his notion of “the classical” and disciplined body. These readings will inform our discussion of different – and potentially contradictory – discourses imbricated in the production of early-modern gendered bodies over and beyond the Cartesian body: the medical (anatomical), sexual (sodomitical and tribadic), reproductive, perverse and grotesque body; the social, civilized, courtly (honnete) body; the cross-dressed body; the rhetoric of the face and the portrait; the king’s bodies; and the religious and mystical (ecstatic) body.
Authors to be read include: Bourgeois, Chorier, De Grenailles, Descartes, Duval, Faret, Foigny, Guyon, Héroard, La Fontaine, La Rochefoucauld, Molière, Montpensier, Paré, Pascal, Poulain de la Barre, Saint-Simon and Venette. If we can arrange it, we will also visit the collections of anatomical drawings at the New York Academy of Medicine.
Class discussions will be conducted in English; readings will be in French (although some, eg Descartes, Poulain, La Fontaine can also be found in translations). Work for the course will include a 25-page paper and an oral presentation of one of the primary readings for those taking it for 4 credits; for those taking the course for 3 credits, there will be a 10-12 page paper, as well as the oral presentation; for two-credit students, the oral presentation will be written up (5-7 pp.). Everyone in the course will take the final exam.
A prior knowledge of seventeenth-century French literature and culture is recommended, but not required.
For any questions about the course, please contact Domna Stanton (
- William Faulkner & France: 75 Years of Transnationalism (in English)
GC: W, 4:15-6:15
Prof. Jerry Carlson
A recent poll asked one hundred French speaking writers to name their most admired novelists. It might surprise Americans but not the French that William Faulkner placed second after Marcel Proust and before Gustave Flaubert. Indeed, the French admiration for Faulkner reaches back as far as a 1931 essay in La Nouvelle Revue Française. The transatlantic romance shows no signs of cooling more than seventy-five years later. Why? This course will explore the many ways in which Faulkner’s work has been received, interpreted, adapted, and remodeled by French intellectuals, writers, and filmmakers. The object will not be to construct a simple linear model of influence. Rather, it will be to understand a rhizomatic entanglement of relations.
First, we absorb Faulkner’s most cited work The Sound and the Fury. We then examine influential early essays by Maurice Edgar Coindreau, Claude Edmonde Magny, André Malraux, and Jean-Paul Sartre that set the template for the “French” Faulkner. Next we explore Faulkner’s impact upon the narrative aesthetics of the nouveau roman through close readings of novels by Claude Simon and Kateb Yacine. At stake is how narrative innovation challenges received ideas about national and colonial history. Next Faulkner’s influence upon the nouvelle vague in French cinema will be analyzed through films by Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, and Agnès Varda. Their works are frequently cited as more “Faulknerian” than the screenplays written by Faulkner himself in Hollywood. What might that mean? Lastly, we examine Faulkner’s central role in the créolité movement of the French Caribbean. After a close look at Faulkner, Mississippi by Edouard Glissant, we turn to prose fiction by Patrick Chamoiseau and Gisèle Pineau.
2 credits = 5 page essay + 5 page essay
3 credits = 5 page essay + 10-15 page essay
4 credits = 5 page essay + 15-20 page essay
The course will be conducted in English, but the novels may be read in French or English.