Current Seminars

Spring 2017

For details and updates, please consult the Course Offerings on the Office of the Registrar's website.

FRE 500
Second Language Acquisition Research and Language Teaching Methodology
Murielle M. Perrier

Designed to provide future teaching assistants with the knowledge and conceptual tools needed to reflect critically on pedagogical practices in the second language classroom. Examines issues related to teaching language and culture in a university setting, highlighting the relationship between theory in Second Language Acquisition and language pedagogy and helping students understand the practical implications of theoretical frameworks in the field.

FRE 502
Language and Style
David M. Bellos

A survey of historical, social and regional variation written and spoken French, with particular attention to vocabulary, syntax, phonology and prosody.

FRE 504
Reading Capital
F. Nick Nesbitt

This class initiates a reading of Marx's classic critique of political economy, Capital, along with a selection of the principal philosophical readings of the mature Marx since the 1960s: Louis Althusser's Reading Capital, Michel Henry's Marx, and Moishe Postone's Time, Labor, and Social Domination. Emphasis is placed upon developing a categorial understanding of Marx's conceptual apparatus adequate to the contemporary context, in the wake of the collapse of actually-existing Socialism, industrialization, and the crisis of valorization in the Twenty-First century.

FRE 510 / MED 510
Seminar in Medieval French Literature - Writing Scandal
Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet

How to understand the writings of two authors whose works spring from marginality: Christine de Pizan as a woman, François Villon as a rascal? What is ideologically and stylistically a scandalous writing?

FRE 513
Seminar in French Literature of the Renaissance - The Matter of the Book: Montaigne's Essais
Katie Chenoweth

Montaigne begins his Essais (1580) by announcing to the reader that "je suis moy-mesmes la matiere de mon livre" (I am myself the matter of my book). Taking this as a point of departure, this seminar on the Essais approaches Montaigne as a seminal theorist - and active practitioner - of textual materiality and technological mediation. Secondary works studied include readings in book history, media theory, ancient materialist philosophy, and "new materialisms".

FRE 525
20th-Century French Poetry or Theater - Surrealism
Efthymia Rentzou

This course examines the development of surrealism from its birth in Dada-infused Paris through its years of exile in New York to its decline after the Second World War. Materials considered include literary and theoretical texts, visual works (including film), and magazines. The course treats the topic at a variety of inter-related levels, exploring surrealism as part of the broad historical phenomenon of the avant-garde, examining its specific ways of (re)conceiving literature and art, and investigating the epistemological ramifications of surrealism's aesthetic, political, and moral positions. (In English)

FRE 565 / COM 565 / ENG 544 / GER 565
Studies in Forms of Poetry - Poetry, History and Memory
Sandra L. Bermann
Michael G. Wood

This seminar explores the intricate relations of poetry to history and memory in the troubled 20th century. Individual poets are closely studied for their intrinsic interest but also for their (known and still to be discovered) connections with each other. The poets are Eugenio Montale, César Vallejo, René Char, Paul Celan, Adrienne Rich and Anne Carson, but other writers are called on from time to time. Questions of war and resistance are important, and above all the course attends to what one might think of as the fate of language under pressure.(In English)


Fall 2016

FRE 526
Readings in the 20th-Century Novel
Thomas A. Trezise

A study of major French or Francophone novels of the twentieth century in conjunction with critical texts on narrative.

FRE 527
The Heroism of Modern Life
Göran Blix

How can modern bourgeois life still claim to be, as Baudelaire suggested, worthy of heroic treatment, despite the rise of democratic values? While many post-revolutionary thinkers opposed heroism on political grounds, or judged it historically impossible, some fashioned new democratic heroes reconciling exemplarity and typicality. Meanwhile, reactionary thinkers revitalized an older heroic code to justify  hierarchy and order. We will examine the nineteenth-century crisis of heroism in a wide range of authors such as Balzac, Stendhal, Marx, Nietzsche, Carlyle, Emerson, Baudelaire, Comte, Michelet, Hugo, the Goncourts, Barrès, and Bergson.

FRE 538 / COM 538 / MOD 579
Le Monde par la bande
André Benhaïm

This course explores representations of the World and History in major bandes dessinées (or graphic novels) published in French from the 1930s to the present, and produced by authors of various backgrounds (French, Belgian, Italian, Jewish, Iranian). Informed by theoretical readings, discussions will address key aesthetical, political, and ethical issues, including Exoticism, Orientalism, (Post)colonialism, national and individual identity, as well as the theory of reception, to critically assess the fluctuations of these visions between fantasy and testimony. (In English)

HUM 596 / GER 596 / FRE 596 / COM 596
Humanistic Perspectives on Literature - Case Histories, Life Stories
Peter P. Brooks / Brigid Doherty

The seminar reflects on the role of exemplary stories - ones that seem to want to offer a lesson in the understanding of life and character, even of personhood as such - in fiction and non-fiction. What do authors intend when writing factual "case histories" or fictional variants on the genre? What are readers supposed to learn from such texts? What is at stake for the subjects of case histories? How do modalities of narration and literary figuration variously shape the presentation of life stories in autobiography, psychoanalysis, art criticism?