Current Seminars

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

Spring 2022

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 Sagnier
The Literature of Enlightenment: Marivaux tongue
Subject associations
FRE 518
Weighing flies, eggs in cobweb scale: 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.
Instructors
Flora Champy
Seminar in 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature: Readings of Proust
Subject associations
FRE 526 / COM 525
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).
Instructors
André Benhaïm
Seminar in French Civilization: The Heroism of Modern Life
Subject associations
FRE 527
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.
Instructors
Göran Blix
Charles Baudelaire
Subject associations
FRE 532
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.
Instructors
Efthymia Rentzou