Current Seminars

Spring 2022

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                        
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.

FRE 518
The Literature of Enlightenment: Marivaux’ tongue                         
Flora Champy

"Weighing flies' eggs in cobweb scales": Voltaire's venomous characterization still sticks to Marivaux's oeuvre today. In opposition to that view, this course takes a deeper look into the seeming glibness and shallow sophistication of the marivaudage, to consider it as an exploration of the potentialities and perils of language. Do words help us to express ourselves, or are they a hindrance? Is language itself a disguise? Is disguise the most authentic way to be? Is the quest for authenticity a futile one? We examine how Marivaux's exploration of these questions let him innovate in multiple genres, from plays to novels and journalism.

FRE 526 / COM 525
Seminar in 19th- and 20th- Century French Literature: Readings of Proust   
André Benhaïm

A study of Marcel Proust's works and "imaginaire", some of his most remarkable readings, along with readings of/by some of his most remarkable readers (writers, philosophers, critics, artists, and film makers).

FRE 527
Seminar in French Civilization: The Heroism of Modern Life    
Göran Magnus 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 532
Charles Baudelaire
Efthymia Rentzou

This course discusses Charles Baudelaire's poetry, prose, art and literary criticism, autobiographical texts, and translations, and their pivotal role for perceptions of modernity. Baudelaire's oeuvre is approached through different perspectives, ranging from poetics, aesthetics, literary history, the political and social context of his time, sexuality and gender, popular culture, reception history, trauma studies, etc. We take into consideration influential readings of Baudelaire's work, while particular emphasis is given to Baudelaire's relevance for the 21st century and specifically in contemporary literature and art.

Fall 2021

FRE 530 / COM 511 / HUM 530 
Essayism: Trajectory of a Genre   
Christy Wampole

This course explores the thematically capacious genre of the essay, a compact prose form where science and poetry meet. Students learn the essay's history, explore various theories of the essay, and encounter prominent examples of essayistic writing from across the centuries. The essay, itself a hybrid form, seems always to reach beyond text toward other media: essay-film, photo-essay, desktop essay. The class invites students to analyze these new essayistic experiments and consider the implications the essay form might have for their own scholarly writing.

FRE 560 / PHI 504 / COM 557  
Medieval Speech Acts 
Daniel Heller-Roazen

A seminar on medieval practices and theories of performative speech, from lies to oaths, promises, blessings, curses, deeds and sacraments. Readings are drawn from Old and Middle French poetry as well as earlier and later medieval grammar, logic and theology, where doctrines of "efficacious" signification and the force of words play major roles. To bring into focus the medieval treatments of speech acts, we also consider selected twentieth-century philosophical, linguistic and sociological accounts of performative speech (particularly by Austin, Benveniste and Goffman).

FRE 583 / COM 583  
Seminar in Romance Linguistics and/or Literary Theory: Levinas 
Thomas Trevise

The seminar focuses on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas from its origins in Husserlian phenomenology and Heidggerian ontology to the major articulations of Levinasian ethnics. It examines encounters between Levinas and such thinkers as Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-François Lyotard, and considers the implications of Levinas's thought for aesthetics, gender, and politics.

Spring 2021

FRE 500  
Second Language Acquisition Research and Language Teaching Methodology 
Christine M. 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.

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

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 524 / HUM 524
20th-Century French Narrative Prose: Albert Camus: Writing in Motion
André Benhaïm

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 526 / COM 525
Seminar in 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature: Money in the 19C Novel
David M. Bellos

A study of the circulation of money in French fiction alongside the economic history of publishing and the financial position of writers in the period 1820-1880. The central figure is Balzac, but comparisons are also made with English and Russian fiction of the period. Students are asked to pursue individual research tasks within the field. The aim is to elucidate what has become obscured by changes in society, language, culture and the economy, and to restore some degree of clarity to the drama and romance of the money plots of many major works of 19C literature.

FRE 527
Seminar in French Civilization: Thinking With Animals
Göran Magnus Blix

A study of the 'animal question' in French literature and philosophy from Montaigne to Derrida and beyond. Lévi-Strauss noted, famously, that animals were good to 'think with,' and we try to do so here -looking at fables, novels, poems, and philosophical texts - while avoiding their reification into mere things or symbols in the 'anthropological machine' (Agamben). But we can also try to 'think (along) with 'non-human animals, as J.-C. Bailly suggests, and, more urgently, interrogate their enigmatic presence anew against the backdrop of the sixth extinction. Topics: fables, language, mind, rights, conservation, companionship, extinction.

FRE 542
Racial Imaginaries
Christy N. Wampole

The focus of this course is the representation of race across media (literature, film, visual arts, multimedia) and in various discourses (scientific, political, philosophical) in France, particularly from the 19th century to today. The first weeks of the course provide an earlier history of racial theorization and representation in France. Then we discuss themes such as scientific and bureaucratic racism, exoticism, intercultural influence, and the ways in which colonialism, immigration, and globalization have changed depictions of race in French cultural production.

Fall 2020

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.

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.

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.