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You are here: Home / Graduate Studies / Graduate Seminars

Graduate Seminars

Spring 2019 Seminars

FR597: Strange Matter in the Early Modern

Instructor: Tracy Rutler

As we enter a moment in which the effects climate change are redefining the contours of our world in considerable and irreparable ways, scholarship that aims to understand the very matter of our world and its inhabitants has become increasingly important and timely. Life in the Anthropocene is one in which we must account for the way matter – human and nonhuman, organic and inorganic, active and inert – affects our lives in real and sometimes unexpected ways. The growing field of New Materialisms (which also engages with such fields as Posthuman Studies, Animal Studies, and Environmental Humanities), attests to our human desire to understand how matter matters. In this course, however, we will see that such a fascination with matter is not new to humanity. Going back about 300 years, we will see how scientists and philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries were theorizing matter in ways that may seem at times familiar and at others strange. In this course, we will read scholars such as Rosi Braidotti, Mel Chen, and Jane Bennett alongside texts by Baruch Spinoza, Denis Diderot, and Rétif de la Bretonne, among others. We will also examine how many experiments performed by scientists in France and throughout Western Europe had lasting effects on how we think about such categories as gender, race, and ability.

FR597: Oceanic Creolization, Diasporic Cultures, and Re-Worlding Trajectories

Instructor: Bruno Jean-François

Considering a largely overlooked region in the study of Francophone Cultures of the Global South, this seminar engages with postcolonial literatures and visual cultures of the Indian Ocean, especially the ones from the Mascarene region, Madagascar and the Comoros archipelago. With over 5000 years of human interaction—compared to 2000 for the Pacific and 1000 for the Atlantic (Pearson 2003)—the Indian Ocean is the oldest travelled body of ocean in human history. As global movements of heterogeneous populations, experiences, and cultures left their mark on the dynamics of the region, they led to complex situations of identity loss and reconstruction, biological and cultural mixing, new forms of economic development, and sociopolitical challenges. Focusing both on literary texts and artistic productions from the South West of the Indian Ocean, the seminar will thus examine how transcolonial, transnational and “re-worlding” expressions from so-called minor islands can recalibrate both our historical and geopolitical understanding of diasporic cultures, multicultural societies and dynamics of creolization. Using relevant theories—and approaching the ocean both as a metaphor and a continuum that challenge islands’ geographical frontiers, notions of ‘isolates,’ and cultural historiographies—we shall reflect on the role played by local histories in featuring transversal dialogues, democratic solidarity, and epistemic justice.

The course will be conducted entirely in French.

FR569: Major Texts of Twentieth-Century French Literature

Instructor: Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire

Theme for Spring 2019: Québec Through Literature and Film: A Survey

Situé aux frontières de l’Europe et de l’Amérique, mais défini par une géographie, une histoire, une culture, qui lui sont propres, le Québec sera le sujet d’étude de ce séminaire. Nous nous intéresserons ainsi à un contexte francophone singulier, mais marqué par des écrivaines et écrivains aux postures et aux racines plurielles. Notre objectif sera de composer un portrait nuancé du Québec passé et présent, et cela en nous familiarisant avec ses grandes œuvres cinématographiques, sa musique et, surtout, avec sa littérature. Nous aborderons ainsi des œuvres essentielles du patrimoine (en prose, en poésie et en théâtre), cela depuis les explorateurs du seizième siècle jusqu’aux romanciers néoquébécois et aux poétesses contemporaines des premières nations.


Fall 2018 Seminars

FR597: The Middle Passage: Shadows, Smudges & Sequels

Instructor: Fabienne Kanor

Mainly based on contemporary French and Francophone literature, cinema & visual arts, this trans-disciplinary graduate seminar will show how the Middle Passage, and in particular the hold of the slave ship, haunts contemporary creation made by authors and artists of African descent. During the period of the Atlantic slave trade, the slave ship’s hold was the only place Black people put in chains could appropriate. There was no other place they could claim as their own since they knew nothing of the New World to which they were being deported by force. A space where the memory of the native land quickly deteriorated, the hold became the main “home” with which the uprooted captives could identify. Therefore, it became a “lieu de mémoire”, a place that kept traumatizing the descendants of people enslaved. In this seminar, we will work on a primary corpus of works of fiction and poetry such as Le Quatrième Siècle by Edouard Glissant, Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle by Simone Swartz-Bart, La saison de l’ombre by Léonora Miano, Zong! by NourbeSe Philip, Humus by Fabienne Kanor and a series of critical texts. We will also use historical archives and a wide corpus of films and visual arts such as Passage du Milieu (Guy Deslauriers), « La bouche du Roi » de Romuald Hazoumé, or no world by Kara Walker. This transnational and trans-disciplinary corpus will help us navigate across notions such as “la dépossession” as conceptualized by Edouard Glissant, “lieux de mémoire” (Pierre Nora), “social death” (Orlando Patterson), “alienation” (Fanon, Memmi), and “mélancolie” (Aimé Césaire), and hunt down the ghosts of the past and the evil spirits of the hold.

Le séminaire se tiendra en français "transmissible", mais les étudiants pourront, sur papier, disserter en français ou en anglais, selon leur choix. Certains livres à lire seront en anglais (la plupart des textes francophones sont traduits en anglais quoi qu'il en soit) et les éléments audiovisuels utilisés (films) seront dans la mesure du possible sous-titrés.

FR571: French Literary Theory and Criticism

Instructor: Tracy Rutler

This course is designed to introduce you to the modern schools of literary theory and criticism. In this course we will discuss not only what it is that we call “literature,” but also what we call “Theory” (with a capital T). We will learn how to judge a work of literary art objectively through theory and we will also learn to understand multiple interpretations of literature through different literary apparatuses. The goal of this course is not to help you to apply theory to a text, but rather to appreciate the history of theory, understanding the distinct schools of thought and their relation to one another. Although we will touch upon ancient and early modern critical methods, we will focus mainly on the schools of thought that emerged from the twentieth century to the present, including some of the newest turns we are seeing in theory today.

FR597: Michel Foucault: Des pensées 'en marche'. Everything you wanted to know about Foucault but were afraid to ask...

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

Based on an emblematic selection of Michel Foucault’s major writings, this seminar is designed to provide a comprehensive and a sound knowledge of Foucault’s stimulating theories. Many of Foucault’s philosophical stands have significantly contributed to opening up new fields of investigation in a variety of domains and are frequently mentioned in numerous debates, in and out academe. It is therefore only fair that students in French Studies be conversant in the critical works -- in their original and splendid ‘baroque’ French -- of a philosopher so widely used, and too often abused. Fostering an awareness of philosophy as both une pratique (ergon) et une herméneutique (logos) this seminar, while theoretical in nature, will also encourage students to make use of the proverbial Foucauldian “tool-box” in their respective research fields and to test some of Foucault’s bold and inspiring postulates.

FR581: Theory and Techniques of Teaching French

Instructor: Heather McCoy

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of French. It includes both theoretical and practical components, provides students access to professional resources for teaching, and introduces students to the necessary vocabulary for participation in informed conversations about teaching and learning.


Spring 2018 Seminars

FR501B:  Pro-Seminar

Instructor:  Jennifer Boittin

FR502: Introduction à la linguistique

Instructor:  Marc Authier

FR559: Violences, droits humains et expressions francophones

Instructor:  Bruno Jean-François

FR597A: Théories féministes: expressions françaises et francophones

Instructor:  Bénédicte Monicat


Fall 2017 Seminars

FR 597:  The Era of the Great Francophone War, 1914-2017

Instructor:  Jennifer Boittin

Afin de marquer le centenaire de la Grande Guerre, nous allons revoir cet événement en trois parties : la guerre ; l’après-guerre ; et la mémoire contemporaine. Ce faisant, nous allons étudier les liens entre le genre, la classe et la race à l’aide de quelques exemples d’approches, de méthodologies, d’historiographies et de théories nous permettant d’explorer des sources aussi diverses que des romans, des films, des photographies et des bandes dessinées produites tout au long des vingtième et vingt-et-unième siècles francophones. Notre approche à la guerre sera donc sociale et culturelle. Le cours prendra comme exemples des cas tirés surtout de l’expérience francophone (y compris coloniale) de la guerre, mais vous pourrez aussi élargir vos recherches dans le cadre de vos contributions au cours et de votre mémoire de fin de semestre.

FR501A:  Pro-Seminar

Instructor:  Jennifer Boittin


Spring 2017 Seminars 

FR 535: Texts and Performances: Theories of Drama

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

Grounded in current theater/performance theories, reception theories and semiotics of drama, this seminar is an archeo-genealogy of France’s theater from the Baroque episteme to the present. Based on a selection of major French plays and unavoidable playwrights, the course, while encouraging incursions into contemporary Francophone theater, will foster an awareness of theater as both dramatic and performance texts, literary and social events, and last, but certainly not least, will emphasize the critical role of the spec-actor.  

FR 543: Studies in the Enlightenment: Kinship, Community, and State in Enlightenment France 

Instructor: Tracy Rutler

Denis Diderot’s bourgeois drama, Le fils naturel (1757) opens with the narrator gazing in on a scene of intimate family drama. What follows is a play where romantic and familial relationships are called into question as each character’s true identity slowly unfolds. In the spectator’s gaze, the inherently intimate becomes overtly political. Blurring the boundary between the public and the private spheres, many authors of eighteenth-century France interrogate modes of political governance via a discourse on the family and its dissolution. In this course, we will read pieces of domestic fiction, taking a cue from Nancy Armstrong and re-linking the language of domesticity to its political power. Texts to be read may include: Diderot’s Fils naturel; Françoise de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne; Rousseau’s Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse; Sade’s Justine; and Voltaire’s Zaire. Framing our discussion will be works by Plato, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Nancy Armstrong, Jacques Rancière, Michel de Certeau, Nancy K. Miller, Giorgio Agamben, and Judith Butler, among others.

FR/CMLT 597: Francophone Island Literature: Geographies, Creolizations and Globalization 

Instructor: Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François

While global linear thinking mapped lands and waters, it also conditioned our minds and geographical frameworks. As such, colonial imagination persistently envisioned islands and archipelagoes as vulnerable, exploitable and fragmented isolates, irrelevant to our understanding of processes of cosmopolitanism. Engaging with island literatures (and expressive cultures) of the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions, this seminar examines how ‘insular’ histories and experiences relate more to stories of exchanges and encounters than one would initially imagine. Exploring the possible interactions between relevant postcolonial concepts (mondialisation, Relation, créolisation) and the emerging field of the ‘New Thalassology’ or Ocean studies, we shall consider how Francophone expressions challenge disembodied conceptions of space and fixed notions of borders in order to redraw the contours of islands, oceans, and archipelagoes as fluid and permeable geo-assemblages. Using a variety of approaches, and focusing on both the decentered and decentering narratives offered by postcolonial writers (Devi, Appanah, Collen, Pyamootoo, Glissant, Condé, Chamoiseau, Pineau, Spitz), who make sense of their fragmented worlds differently, we will discuss their particular transformative interventions as a way of challenging exclusionary representations of so-called minor communities and experiences.

The course will be conducted in English, and will only include works that have been translated from French to English. Students who are familiar with written French are however encouraged to read these texts in their original version.


Fall 2016 Seminars

FR 531: Francophone Culture: African Encounters

Instructor: Julie Kleinman

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar focuses on how encounters between Francophone Africa and the West have shaped culture, society, and politics in the Francophone world. Drawing on historical, ethnographic, and literary texts, we will move beyond the colonial encounter to study decolonization and negritude, the construction of African modernities, and contemporary encounters shaped by new forms of movement and migration. The structure of the class mimics the encounter model, as each section puts texts written by African authors into conversation with Euro-American counterparts. The course is designed to give students a historical context for understanding contemporary debates on African-European relations, as well as the conceptual tools to analyze issues of modernity, race, otherness, and cultural encounter from African perspectives.

FR 533: Baroque Episteme: 17th-Century French Litertuare and Intellectual History

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

Based on the revisited Foucaldian concept of “épistémè” and the Nietzschean views of history and genealogy, this seminar --while discussing current criticism on early modern France-- proposes the notion of “Baroque” as a pertinent heuristic tool apt to refresh and to question the traditional conception of 17th-Century French Literature. It thus deconstructs the so-called “French classicism,” challenges the ideological claim of a baroqueless France, reconsiders major canonical texts and early modern trends of thought (Aristotelianism, ‘modern science’, Jansenism, Libertinage), and promotes the Baroque as a philosophical concept rather than an aesthetic category.

Spinoza, Nietzsche, Foucault will read Montaigne, Galileo, Kepler, Bernini, Pascal, Corneille, Descartes, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Mme de La Fayette, Racine, Mme de Sablé, Bossuet... Baroque & Roll!

FR 571: French Literary Theory and Criticism

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

While encouraging students to develop a sound theoretical grounding related to their own research interests, this course should help them to debunk ideologies in their thinking, and to gain fluency in theory and criticism. Along with an acquaintance with the most prominent “French Theory” actors: Foucault, Althusser, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze, Rancière, etc., this course provides students with a systematic study of major theoretical trends (Formalism, New Criticism, Nouvelle Critique, Structuralism, Phenomenology, Reception Theories, New Historicism, Post-structuralism, Deconstruction, Performance Theories) whose knowledge is essential for engaging into fruitful (literary) criticism and for participating effectively in some of the most innovative contemporary philosophical debates. The course will also discuss the problematics of the subject as envisioned by Foucault in his latest research (‘souci de soi’ [epimeleia heautou], ‘dire-vrai [parrêsia]), and the assumed boundaries between philosophy and literature.

FR 580: Approaches to French Culture (Interdisciplinary methods of French cultural analysis and cultural history, with applications to a large spectrum of topics and artifacts) 

Instructor: Monique Yaari

The seminar examines the current “cultural turn” in French Studies as grounded in a variety of disciplines and their interactions: anthropology, historiography, semiotics, sociology, philosophy. The objects discussed consist primarily of practices, representations, and ideologies, ranging in scope from the local to the national and beyond, and from the quotidian to the visual arts. Examples include historical events and commemorations, urban spaces and public exhibitions, tourism, paintings. Seeking to foster development of analytical and interpretative skills, the approach adopted in this seminar combines close formal analysis with contextual and historically informed interpretation.

FR 581: Theory and Techniques of Teaching French

Instructor: Heather McCoy

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of French. It includes both theoretical and practical components, provides students access to professional resources for teaching, and introduces students to the necessary vocabulary for participation in informed conversations about teaching and learning.


Spring 2016 Seminars

FR 501B: Pro-Seminar in French Studies II

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman

This year-long course introduces students to various components of graduate studies while training them for diverse activities associated with their future academic positions. Throughout the course, we explore the scholarly and instructional dimensions of French and Francophone Studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.  We consider everything from publication outlets to teaching portfolios, grant writing to dissertation or book proposals.  During the Spring semester, we focus on skills as varied as writing a conference paper abstract; transforming a seminar paper into an article manuscript; and crafting grant and thesis proposals.

FR 502: Introduction to French Linguistics

Instructor: Marc Authier

An in-depth survey of the subfields of linguistic theory, namely, syntax, semantics and phonetics/phonology based on data from French. 

FR 566: Women Writers in Nineteenth-Century France

Instructor: Bénédicte Monicat

This seminar explores the diversity of women’s literary production and the variety of its objects in nineteenth-century France through the conceptual lens of genre and gender construction.  It examines what the notion of “women’s literature” might entail, looks at the ways in which genre and gender intersect, and reflects upon the construction of literary historiography. 

FR 597A:  Postcolonial Theory, Francophonie and World Literature

Instructor: Bruno Jean-François

Engaging with critical concepts such as postcolonialism, Francophonie and World literature, this seminar will focus on themes of mobility, cultural encounter and globalization as represented in contemporary texts from diverse geographical regions (the Indian Ocean, Africa and the Caribbean). Considering how postcolonial literary productions call for a revision of our historical, spatial and cultural frameworks, we will discuss a variety of approaches (mondialisation, Relation, créolisation, coolitude, afropéanisme) and examine their convergences and divergences as we refine our understanding of the specific contributions of Francophonie to the development of an ‘enlarged thinking’. We shall also examine how the discourse ethic of postcolonial writers from minor/marginal/peripheral Francophone worlds enhances epistemic justice, by challenging abstract cogitos and disembodied universalist traditions, and by bringing into discussion a new interactive definition of World literature, that acknowledges plurality of modes of being, of knowing and of thinking.

FR 597B:  The French City Today: Realities and Representations

Instructor: Monique Yaari

This seminar will approach the city as material and cultural object, as a prism through which to view the contemporary world, and as object of literary representations. Theories of urban and landscape design, the poetics of space, place, and memory, evolving notions of modernity, and potentially new paths of inquiry such as eco- and geo-criticism will inform our discussions.


Fall 2015 Seminars

FR 501B: Pro-Seminar in French Studies II

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman

This year-long course introduces students to various components of graduate studies while training them for diverse activities associated with their future academic positions. Throughout the course, we explore the scholarly and instructional dimensions of French and Francophone Studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.  We consider everything from publication outlets to teaching portfolios, grant writing to dissertation or book proposals.  During the Spring semester, we focus on skills as varied as writing a conference paper abstract; transforming a seminar paper into an article manuscript; and crafting grant and thesis proposals.

FR 571: French Literary Theory and Criticism

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

While encouraging students to develop a sound theoretical grounding related to their research interests, this course helps them to debunk ideologies in their own ways of thinking, and to gain fluency in theory and criticism. Along with an acquaintance with the most prominent contributors to the famous “French Theory”: Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze, etc., this course provides students with a systematic study of major theoretical trends (Formalism, New Criticism, Nouvelle Critique, Structuralism, Phenomenology, Reception Theories, New Historicism, Post-structuralism, Deconstruction) whose knowledge is essential for engaging into fruitful literary criticism and for participating effectively in some of the most innovative contemporary philosophical debates.

FR 572: Twentieth-Century French Literature

Instructor: Allan Stoekl

This seminar considers a number of contemporary French "empiritexts," novelistic (but often non-fiction) writings that engage the reader in the consideration of objects, movement, terrains, technologies, and cities. Readings from Jean Rolin, Michel Bon, Annie Ernaux, Bruno Latour, Georges Perec, Olivia Rosenthal, Marie Darrieusecq, and others.

FR 581: Theory and Techniques of Teaching French

Instructor: Heather McCoy 

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of French. It includes both theoretical and practical components, provides students access to professional resources for teaching, and introduces students to the necessary vocabulary for participation in informed conversations about teaching and learning.

FR 597A: The Abnormal Early Modern

Instructor: Tracy Rutler

This seminar examines how philosophical and literary works from the early modern period in France construct the idea of a heterogeneous subject, while simultaneously reading works that attempt to disrupt this normative discourse.
The period of the Enlightenment in particular is one in which the classification of knowledge becomes valorized to previously unseen extents. Figures that remain unclassifiable are thus often excluded from the production
of knowledge, or worse, they become instruments in the battle to maintain and reproduce social, religious, and cultural norms. Throughout the semester, we will read novels, letters, and plays that center on characters that defy early
modern formulations of normativity, reflecting upon the ways in which these texts produce different kinds of knowledge. Our discussions will also be informed by readings of modern critical work on norms and abnormality.

FR 531: Francophone Cultures

Instructor: Jennifer Boittin

In this particular version of the Francophone Cultures course, we will explore connections between gender, sexuality and race in several French colonies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Using relevant theories, historiographical texts, film and literature, we will consider how thinking about the French empire as a gendered space can help us to better understand the local dynamics that shaped both its varied and diverse spaces and the individuals within them.

FR 580: Approaches to French Culture

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman

This course presents an introduction to theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of French and Francophone history and culture. While one focus of the course will be on historiography (the Annales School, the cultural and linguistic ‘turns,’ histoire du temps présent, égo-histoire, transatlantic, transnational, and global history), we will also consider approaches to cultural objects drawn from semiotics, sociology, cultural studies, gender studies, LGBT studies, print culture studies, and other fields and disciplines.

FR 597: Migration, multiethnic societies and oceanic creolization

Instructor: Bruno Jean-François 

This seminar will engage with the literature (and expressive cultures) of the Indian Ocean, especially the ones located in the islands of the Mascarene region. The Indian Ocean is the oldest in human history, and it has been marked, for over 5000 years, by episodes of migration, displacement, and re-settlement that have affected all the ethnic groups traveling across its expanse. These diasporic movements, due to trade exchanges, colonialism, slavery, and indenture continue to have an impact on the economic, cultural, and social history of the region. Using relevant theories, we will consider how this history of exchange has led to identity loss and reconstruction, to biological and cultural mixing, to complex situations of oceanic creolization. We shall also reflect upon how the dynamic forms of economic development and political challenges represented in the literature of this region can help recalibrate the geopolitics and discourses of democratic practice in multicultural and multiethnic contexts at large.


Fall 2014 Seminars

FR 570: Modern French Poetry

Instructor: Allan Stoekl

In this seminar we will read Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Ponge in light of Poe's esthetic theory, as elaborated in his essay "Poetics of Composition". We will also consider Walter Benjamin's reading of Baudelaire as an urban poet—again in the wake of Poe ("The Man of the Crowd")--and consider as well how readings of Poe led to a rethinking of the urban (poetic) object, with ramifications in both Mallarmé and Ponge.

FR 581: Theory and Techniques of Teaching French

Instructor: Heather McCoy 

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of French. It includes both theoretical and practical components, provides students access to professional resources for teaching, and introduces students to the necessary vocabulary for participation in informed conversations about teaching and learning. 

FR 597A: Éduquer et instruire: Histoires de femmes, histoire des femmes

Instructor: Bénédicte Monicat

Informed by longstanding debates on women’s education and focusing on the nineteenth century as a pivotal moment in women’s history, this seminar looks at women’s instructional writings as critical sites for exploring questions of genre, gender, and knowledge construction.

FR 597B: Montaigne Reads Foucault: Hermeneutics of Modernity

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

In addition to confirming the relevance of Montaigne and Foucault in our daily historical experiences, this new seminar will provide students with an analysis of some Montaigne's essays (from Les Essais, II & III) and an in-depth exploration of Foucault's selected problematics and main theoretical concepts. While Montaigne's essays are emblematic of some philosophical and literary issues of (early) modernity, they are also proleptic of many fundamental questions and/or intellectual debates, which will be revisited some four hundred years later by Foucault, as well as by other major contemporary “continental” philosophers.


Spring 2014 Seminars

FR 501B: Pro-Seminar in French Studies II

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman 

This course introduces students to various components of graduate studies while training them for diverse activities associated with their future academic positions. Throughout the course, we explore the scholarly and instructional dimensions of French and Francophone Studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.  We consider everything from publication outlets to teaching portfolios, grant writing to dissertation or book proposals.  During the Fall semester, we focus heavily upon job market preparation (C.V., job application letters, mock interviews, job talks, etc.). During the Spring semester, we focus more on skills as varied as transforming a seminar paper into an article manuscript; crafting a thesis proposal or writing a book prospectus; and planning a curriculum.

FR 502: Introduction to French Linguistics

Instructor: Marc Authier 

This course is an introduction to theoretical linguistics, a scientific field of inquiry the goal of which is to discover and formalize those subconscious rules that allow us to produce and process natural language sentences. Such rules can be divided into four basic types: those that determine sentence structure (syntax), those that constrain invariant aspects of sentential meaning (semantics), those that seek to capture variable aspects of meaning arising from the context of utterance (pragmatics), those that determine the pronunciation of words and phrases (phonetics/phonology), and those that constrain the combinatorial properties of affixes word-internally (morphology). We will study and illustrate each of these components through data drawn from French. Although our main objective will be to arrive at an understanding of what knowledge of language consists of, we will also consider some of the applications of linguistic theory. More specifically, we will see how it can be used to inform second language acquisition research, language pedagogy, literary analysis and cultural studies.

FR 564: Figures et écriture de l’exotisme : Ourika, Indiana, Aurélia et l/es autre/s

Instructor: Bénédicte Monicat

Literary manifestations of exoticism are most symbolically and problematically embodied by novelistic female heroines who signal a desire to abolish the very distance they represent.  As figures of sexual and racial otherness, their functions and meanings are far from stable, allowing for a critical reflection on the power relations thus revealed through representation and on the critical power of representation.            

FR 597A: Beauty and Decadence: France from 1880 to 1914

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman 

This interdisciplinary seiminar explores two contrasting yet interrelated notions often used to describe the period from approximately 1880 to 1914 in France: that of a ‘Belle Epoque’ and that of an era of ‘decadence.’ Drawing on close readings of novels, private writings, and  contemporary history, sociology and philosophy texts, but also art and music, we study what contemporaries considered the sources of the grandeur and decadence of this period ; the emblems of progress associated with the Belle Epoque ; and the presumed symptoms of decadence. We examine, too, the perceived historical antecedents of modern decadence as well as ‘antidotes’ against it. Finally, we study how certain artists and witers of this period valorized the notion of decadence, making it the cornerstone of a key esthetic of the late-nineteenth century, overlapping and echoing other esthetic trends such as Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Japonism, and Dandyism.


Fall 2013 Seminars

FR 501A: Pro-Seminar in French Studies I

Instructor: Willa Z. Silverman

See description for FR 501B: Pro-Seminar in French Studies II, above.

FR 547: Modernism, Postmodernism

Instructor: Monique Yaari

Modernism, postmodernism, historical and post-war avant-gardes: these are the concepts we will examine and question in this seminar, from theoretical, historical, and interdisciplinary perspectives, marking, as we go along, the centennial of some of the first ‘modernist’ cultural events of 1913. While we will generally proceed from texts and objects to theories, we will also be moving to and fro between the two. Primary sources for this seminar include literary texts ranging from Baudelaire to Van Cauwelaert, accompanied by a selection of objects drawn from the visual arts, architecture, and urbanism. Among the secondary sources included in our readings, Jean-François Lyotard’s reflection on the seminar’s key concepts will be central to our discussions. Other versions of this course take as their focus the contemporary French city.

FR 569: Major Texts of Twentieth-Century French Literature

Instructor: Allan Stoekl

Established contemporary literary texts, figures, and aesthetic movements in various genres from Proust to Sartre and from Genet to Condé.

FR 571: French Literary Theory and Criticism

Instructor: Jean-Claude Vuillemin

While encouraging students to develop a sound theoretical grounding related to their research interests, this course helps them to debunk ideologies in their own ways of thinking, and to gain fluency in theory and criticism. Along with an acquaintance with the most prominent contributors to the famous “French Theory”: Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze, etc., this course provides students with a systematic study of major theoretical trends (Formalism, New Criticism, Nouvelle Critique, Structuralism, Phenomenology, Reception Theories, New Historicism, Post-structuralism, Deconstruction) whose knowledge is essential for engaging into fruitful literary criticism and for participating effectively in some of the most innovative contemporary philosophical debates.

FR 581: Theory and Techniques of Teaching French

Instructor: Celeste Kinginger

This course is designed to foster an informed professional outlook on the teaching and learning of French. It includes both theoretical and practical components, provides students access to professional resources for teaching, and introduces students to the necessary vocabulary for participation in informed conversations about teaching and learning. 


Spring 2013 Seminars

FR 562: Romanticism and Realism

Instructor: Kathryn Grossman

This seminar focuses on various manifestations of romanticism and realism (and, by extension, naturalism) from the First Empire to the Third Republic. What are the relations between the real and the ideal, the grotesque and sublime, the “masculine” and the “feminine,” in the poetry, theatre, and prose fiction of the period? We examine the evolution, theoretical underpinnings, and distinguishing elements of each literary movement in the context of social and political revolution. We also investigate the critical discussion that surrounds each text. Our primary sources include, but are not limited to, selections from the master’s reading list. Class time deals with central texts, with major critical issues addressed by the nineteenth-century French studies interpretive community, and with bibliographical resources and strategies for research in this area by present and future dix-neuviémistes.

FR 566: Écrivaines du XIXsiècle : questions de genres

Instructor: Bénédicte Monicat

This seminar explores the diversity of women’s literary production and the variety of its objects in nineteenth-century France through the conceptual lens of genre and gender construction.  It examines what the notion of “women’s literature” might entail, looks at the ways in which genre and gender intersect, and reflects upon the construction of literary historiography.

FR 574: The Contemporary French City

Instructor: Monique Yaari

As Marc Augé puts it, the city is a microcosm of the contemporary world. Focusing on 20th and 21st century France, we will examine the contemporary French city as a prism through which to access existing tensions between past, present and future, memory and history, material space and immaterial networks, quotidian realities and utopian aspirations, center and periphery, built environment and ecological concerns. The cultural dimensions of the city—from its role as cultural magnet to the symbolic representations and image construction it conveys will also be discussed. Throughout, the modern, postmodern, après-moderne axis will serve as a theoretical and historical guiding thread. Finally, we will analyze representations of the city in the literature of the period.