Current Seminars

Spring 2023

Second Language Acquisition Research and Language Teaching Methodology
Subject associations
FRE 500

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.

Instructors
Christine M. Sagnier
Seminar in 17th-Century French Literature: Epistolary Writing
Subject associations
FRE 516

This seminar aims to provide an introduction to the literature and culture of seventeenth-century France through the medium of the letter. We explore the various personal, social, and literary uses of letterwriting, examine some (authentic or fictional) correspondences, and study the beginnings of the epistolary novel. Readings also include verse epistles as well as non-epistolary works in which letters play a crucial role.

Instructors
Volker Schröder
Surrealism: Masculin/Féminin
Subject associations
FRE 525 / GSS 524

This course examines the development of surrealism from its birth in Dada-infused Paris to its life after the Second World War. Materials considered include literary and theoretical texts, visual works, magazines, and exhibitions. The course treats the topic at a variety of inter-related levels, exploring surrealism as a 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. Gender representation and sexual politics are the focus of the course this year.

Instructors
Efthymia Rentzou
Seminar in 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature: Georges Perec
Subject associations
FRE 526 / COM 525

Georges Perec (1936-1982) was among the most innovative writers of the twentieth century, whose work encompasses fiction, poetry, radio drama, essays and many unclassifiable texts more or less related to the idea of constrained or formal writing. Relatively obscure for most of his lifetime, Perec has emerged as a post-modern master over the last thirty years and his never pretentious and occasionally humorous work is now published in the prestigious Pléiade collection. This course aims to read through the entire œuvre in a single semester and to assess its aesthetic, human and historical importance.

Instructors
David M. Bellos
Seminar in French Civilization: Novel and Education
Subject associations
FRE 527

What do novels teach? And can novels be taught? The age of the novel is also the age of education, with the gradual advent of mass literacy, universal education, and democratic citizenship. How does the novel track, chart, reinforce, subvert, and perform the pedagogy of the modern citizen? From Rousseau's Émile to the Nouvelle Éducation (20C), via Guizot, the 1848 Republic, the Commune, and the Ferry laws, reformers of various stripes pinned their hopes for a new society on education. Reading novels and pedagogical texts side by side, we will look at the tangled (hi)stories of education and citizenship and ask what role literature has played.

Instructors
Göran Magnus Blix

Fall 2022

Slavery and Capitalism
Subject associations
FRE 504 / LAS 504 / AAS 503

The course will examine the place of plantation slavery in the development of capitalist modernity. We will focus on two classic texts: Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery, and CLR James' history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. We will also discuss in this context Marx's critique of capitalist slavery in Capital, and its importance for the tradition of Caribbean critique. Also to be considered are the writings of Toussaint Louverture, Henry Christophe, and Aimé and Suzanne Césaire as they develop original critiques of slavery, colonialism, and Antillean capitalism.

Instructors
F. Nick Nesbitt
Seminar in French Literature of the Renaissance: Montaigne's Library
Subject associations
FRE 513

This seminar investigates Montaigne's library. We study the Essais with attention the way Montaigne reads, quotes, and borrows from other books, exploring the complex stakes (literary, historical, philosophical, ethical, erotic) of citationality. We place Montaigne's reading practices within the context of Renaissance humanism and analyze the way he appropriates, dismembers, and deforms other authors (Plutarch, Lucretius, Virgil, La Boétie, etc.). We explore the legendary tower librairie as both physical space and imaginary scene, relating it to personal libraries past and present, and tracking its afterlife in contemporary media.

Instructors
Katie Chenoweth
Seminar in 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature: Readings in the 20th Century Novel
Subject associations
FRE 526 / COM 525

This course offers the opportunity for a close examination of certain French or francophone novels that are widely considered to be among the most important of the twentieth century, all from the post-WWII period and all to be read in conjunction with pertinent critical texts. It is neither an historical survey of the twentieth-century novel nor a systematic introduction to narratology nor an overview of contemporary critical perspectives. Instead, our ambition is to articulate and discuss literary and related issues that arise from the close reading of these novels and the inflection imparted to such issues by secondary texts.

Instructors
Thomas A. Trezise
After Odysseus: Hospitality, France, and the Mediterranean
Subject associations
FRE 529

After the Revolution, France embraced the role of a universal beacon for refugees. Yet, many modern laws and debates have challenged this altruism. After revisiting ancient Greek and biblical traditions, we journey through France and the Mediterranean to reflect on ethical and aesthetical, individual and collective models of hospitality. Using literature and philosophy, linguistics and the visual arts, from canonical to popular culture, we ponder the notions of cosmopolitanism and borders, address issues such as colonization, immigration and citizenship, wondering what is at stake in the welcoming of a stranger.

Instructors
André Benhaïm