Current Seminars

Fall 2020

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

FRE 449 / HIS 449 / ECS 449
The French Enlightenment
David A. Bell

The French Enlightenment was one of the most intensely creative and significant episodes in the History of Western thought. This course will provide an introduction to its major works. Each class meeting will have three parts: a 50-minute meeting in small groups with the instructor focused on analyzing selected passages from the assigned texts; a 50-minute general discussion with all course participants; and a prerecorded 50-minute background lecture on the subsequent week's readings.

FRE 516
Seminar in 17th-Century French Literature: Le Merveilleux sous Louis XIV
Volker Schröder

This seminar explores the presence of the marvelous in French literature of the "classical age" (1650-1700). What is the role of the extraordinary, the supernatural, and the fabulous in a strictly ordered and increasingly rational and sceptical world? How can literature and art astonish, enchant, and transport while following the rules of reason and verisimilitude? Readings range from mythological dramas to fairy tales, considered with relation to critical debates about the merveilleux and the sublime, the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, and the discourse of absolute monarchy.

FRE 524 / HUM 524
20th-Century French Narrative Prose: Voice Matters
Thomas A. Trezise

This course explores the narrative articulation of conflict and loss in a selection of works from different historical contexts, including slavery, the Holocaust, and the postcolonial world. Emphasis is placed on voice both from a narratological perspective and as a mode of thematization pertaining to such issues as class, gender, and race. Subjects to be discussed also include history, memory, and memorialization; the features of posttraumatic life; and the question of créolité.

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

The great innovation of literary fiction in the nineteenth century is to tell stories about money - how it is made, handled, invested and lost, how it weighs on the lives of rich people, poor people, women in search of husbands and young men in search of a position. These new themes arise just as writers themselves become able to earn money from their work. This course studies the money-plots of a selection of major European novels written between 1830 and 1890 alongside the changing economic status of the writers of novels in the same period. The primary focus is on France and England, with additional material from Russia.

FRE 534
Rousseau's Politics
Flora Champy

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is one of the most influential and controversial figures of Early modern political philosophy. Prosecuted by the authorities in his native demo-theocratic Geneva as well as in the French absolutist kingdom, Rousseau analyzed politics as a moralist reflecting on collective habits, as a severe critic of social inequality, as a philosopher attempting to lay down the "principles of political right" while addressing government practices, and as an innovative writer. This course explores Rousseau's multi-faceted political thought, reflecting on the methodologies adequate to apprehend such a complex work.

FRE 587
Topics in French and Francophone Critical Theory: Spinoza and French Theory
F. Nick Nesbitt

Course provides an introduction to key French thinkers via the reception of Spinoza's philosophy in French Theory. Philosophers to include Deleuze, Althusser, Macherey, Balibar, Negri, and Badiou. Course also develops readings of the main Spinozist texts through the various lenses of this reception.

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.