Close study of history and criticism of French literature, focusing on a specific group of writers, a movement, a theme, a critical or theoretical issue, or an analytic approach. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor. Taught in French.

Faculty: Amah Edoh
Prereq: One intermediate subject in French.

May be repeated for credit.

Topic for Spring 2018: Contemporary Francophone Africa

This course takes French-speaking Africa as its object of inquiry. Starting from a historical perspective to understand how there came to be a Francophone Africa, the course then turns to how that historical legacy plays out in the contemporary era, with an emphasis on the politics of language. We consider the role and the place of the French language in the colonial project and decolonization movements. Delving into the distinctions between francophonie as the use of the French language, and Francophonie as a political project, we interrogate the place of French in the contemporary African landscape. Finally, we use fiction and film as points of entry into the discussion of important current topics in contemporary African societies and students learn to leverage theoretical tools from anthropology and social theory to analyze and interpret the issues at hand. Topics include migration, the relationship to the state, creative production, the city, and futurity, among others.

Topic for Fall 2016:  Rethinking Landscapes in French Literature and Cinema

How does the modern urban world transform our conception of landscapes? This course looks at landscapes through the eyes of writers and film directors in an effort to discover how technological progress affects our landscapes. The notion of landscape is a complex one, but it has been central to literature and the artistry of cinema. We will examine a number of case studies such as medieval allegorical gardens, classical gardens, Parisian urban landscapes and marginal landscapes. The course will address the ways that people have consciously and unconsciously shaped the land around them through time. We will focus on the idea that landscapes tell us who we are and we will we look at how these spaces shape and re-shape our identities and actions. A series of film screenings will complement the primary texts.

Topic for Spring 2016:   Exploring Difference: Countercultures in Writing and Film

 Strikes, protests, and riots are some of the associations we make with modern day France. Instead of anomalies, France has been formed as much by mainstream cultural movements as it has been by “marginal” cultures and actors. This course explores urban counterculture and youth movements in France and in the French colonies. We will examine a number of case studies, such as French Bohemianism, revolutionary student movements, national liberation groups, feminism, immigrant and urban activism, to explore how urban transformation, immigration, decolonization and globalization has framed the figure of the “marginal.” We will examine the historical context for protest cultures in France and Francophone history and culture, looking at their importance for modern-day French political and social relations. This class will use film, literature and different types of literary and political writings to trace the different types of transgressions of “the mainstream.”


Topic for Fall 2015: France and the Mediterranean

On 19 April 2015, the attention of the world media turned to the Mediterranean when it was reported that nearly 700 migrants had died after their boat capsized off the Libyan coast. French President François Hollande, promising more structural support to migrants in the Mediterranean, contended that France needed to do more to save these migrants as “the Mediterranean is a sea that belongs and is common to all of us.” This statement, far from a simple media sound bite, in fact draws our attention to a complex historical and geo-political dynamic between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Above all, it illuminates how individual countries conceive of their relationship to and responsibility for the Mediterranean space. France, as a central player in the Mediterranean region, is key to understanding these shifting relationships.

In this course, France and the Mediterranean, we will trace the kinds of stories, histories and writings that emerged from this region, closely examining the fluctuating interactions between the nations in the French Mediterranean and the multitude of local, national and regional identities that existed and still continue to do so in this region. Over the semester, we will look at different types of movement and migration across the colonial and post-colonial Mediterranean; the place of minorities and multiculturalism as constitutive of a “Mediterranean identity”; case histories of wars that took place over the national and identitarian frontiers of the Mediterranean space; and finally, the kinds of literary and cultural production produced on and in the region. The course aims to explore the cultures, clashes, cooperation and contact that shaped the French Mediterranean and Mediterranean identities, highlighting the diverse and varied nature of this unified region. 


Enrollment limited to 18 for pedagogical purposes. Priority will be given to pre-registered students, including pre-registered undergraduates who were cut from the same class the previous semester due to the enrollment cap.  In case of over enrollment, preference given to declared French majors, minors and concentrators, followed by juniors, seniors, sophomores,  and freshmen (in that order), who attend the first day of class.