Current Seminars

Spring 2020

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

COM 500
Second Language Acquisition Research and Language Teaching Methodology
Christine Sagnier

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.

COM 525 / FRE 526
19th and 20th-Century French Literature: Writing the People in 19th Century France
Göran Blix

What is the people? Much of nineteenth-century literature is an effort to confront this urgent political question after the Revolution, and to give shape and voice to this amorphous new sovereign. At once ubiquitous and intangible, the people is an unsettling power that modern writing seeks to name, express, silence, or shape. This course examines some landmark novels (by Hugo, les Goncourt, Sand, and Zola) and social analysis (by reformers, hygienists, and intellectuals) at the crossroads between politics and aesthetics. Critical texts by Marx, Chevalier, Rancière, Foucault, T.J. Clark, Lefort, and Rosanvallon.

COM 533 / FRE 533 / HUM 533
The Contemporary
Christy Wampole

What does it mean to be contemporary? How does one truly inhabit the present? Through theoretical texts and examples in literature and film, this course explores the ways in which thinkers, writers, and filmmakers have crafted themselves as agents of actualité. Topics covered include: presentism, littérature engagée, culture critique, the tug-of-war between history and the future, the phenomenology of the now, the personal and collective steering of the present toward a particular course, and the genres best suited to register the contemporary (novel, journalistic writing, documentary, essay, journal).

FRE 571
Political Writing in Eighteenth-Century France
Flora Champy

This course explores a series of questions. Who writes about politics in eighteenth-century France? And why? How can censorship, official and unofficial, make a political event of a book even when it does not directly address governmental issues? Used by Montesquieu in defense of his treatment of religion in the Spirit of the Laws, the phrase "political writer" can apply to a wide range of writers whose motivations, purposes, and publishing strategies vary in response to different urges. The course is based on the study of primary texts but also historical documents, such as official indictments of writers.

Fall 2019

COM 543/ FRE 543
Topics in Medieval Literature: Reading the Roman de la Rose
Daniel Heller-Roazen

Arguably the single most influential vernacular work of the European Middle Ages, the Roman de la Rose presents itself as both an "art of love" and a "mirror of lovers," a prism that reflects the forms of medieval knowledge in unexpected ways. This seminar focuses on the two-part literary work in its literary, philosophical and theological contexts, as well as on its reception, with attention to the "quarrel of the Rose" to which it gave rise in fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

ENG 567 / FRE 567
Special Studies in Modernism: Paris, Modern
Joshua I. Kotin
Efthymia Rentzou

The seminar examines the literature and culture of Paris from 1905 to 1940. We pay particular attention to the connections (and lack of connections) among artists in the city: the avant-garde, French modernists, American and British expatriates, and Russian emigres, among others. Other concerns that frame seminar discussions include: the influence of Paris (as a city) on artistic production; the relation between modernist and avant-garde aesthetics; the relation between individual artists and artistic movements; periodicals and publishing houses; and the spaces of modernism: salons, cafés, bookshops.

GER 517 / MOD 535 / FRE 554
Modernism and Modernity: Modernization and Modernism in France and Germany, 1848-1914
Michael W. Jennings

This seminar attempts to understand the rise of modernism in French and German literature, architecture, painting, and photography as part of the processes of modernization that dominated Europe in the era of commodity capitalism. Topics to be considered include Baudelaire and the transformation of Paris, aestheticism and symbolism as forms of retreat, aesthetic urbanism in turn-of-the century Berlin, and modern tensions between individual subjectivity and public life.

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.

FRE 513
Seminar in French Literature of the Renaissance: Language Technologies
Katie Chenoweth

This course studies the proliferation of technologies that allow language (the French language in particular) to be codified, mechanized, reproduced, disseminated, and appropriated during the sixteenth century. Technologies studied include: the printing press, grammar, the dictionary, imitatio, poetic form, accents, orthography, and translation. We also reconsider canonical literary texts of the French Renaissance (Rabelais, Du Bellay, Montaigne) through a technological lens. Course includes intensive study of sixteenth-century editions and frequent visits to Rare Books and Special Collections in Firestone Library.