Graduate course descriptions

  • To view course schedules by subject, department, or keyword visit the Directory of Classes website page.

French GU4321
Madeleine Dobie
This course explores the production of culture in the contemporary Maghreb. We consider how important dimensions of social and political life are explored in literature and film and, correspondingly, the role that these and other media play in shaping social and political dynamics. The focus is on Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, but these nations are also situated in broader regional and global contexts. Former French colonies, these three nations have in common a multilingual cultural environment in which French coexists with Arabic and Amazigh languages. The course begins in roughly 1990, a time of disenchantment when the political regimes established at Independence were challenged and in some cases replaced. We explore the dynamics of Algeria’s ‘Black Decade’ and Morocco’s emergence from the ‘Years of lead,’ then turn to more recent social and political dynamics, notably the ‘Arab spring’ of 2011-2012 and the ongoing Algerian hirak. Throughout the course we consider how the arts have responded to and contributed to change while also revisiting the past and reframing national narratives. The course is interdisciplinary, combining historical, sociological and anthropological approaches with close reading of texts and films. The syllabus is organized both historically and thematically. We explore questions including the representation and memory of violence, the geographies and sociology of migration and globalization, and the changing landscape of media and publication. Several sessions explore the meaning of ‘modernity’ in conjunction with explorations of subjectivity and spirituality, gender and sexuality.

French GU4800
Souleymane Bachir Diagne
The seminar, which is in French, will deal with the question: what makes a “classic” of African francophone Literature a classic? That question will be examined through the reading of five “classics” in connection with the discussion of Claire Ducournau’s La fabrique des classiques africains. Ecrivains d’Afrique subsaharienne francophone (1960-2012).  The 5 works of fiction are the following: L’aventure ambiguë (C.H. Kane), Une si longue lettre (Mariama Ba), Les Soleils des indépendances (Ahmadou Kourouma), Le devoir de violence (Yambo Ouologuem), La vie et demie (Sony Labou Tansi), L’ombre d’Imana (Veronique Tadjo).

French GR8091
Pierre Force
Designed for first-year graduate students in French, this course is an introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of literary research.

History GR8165
Pierre Force & Carl Wennerlind
This seminar explores the relationship between economics and politics in eighteenth-century debates about political economy. The focus is on primary texts (Mandeville, Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau, Smith, Say). We will also introduce students to some of the most influential historiography, with a discussion of the principal concepts used in eighteenth-century intellectual history.

French GR6020
Students curate, organize and attend a series of lectures open to all members of the French department, including graduate students, faculty and undergraduate majors/concentrators. Working with a faculty member, they invite two speakers each semester, collaborate on the scheduling and organization of talks, introduce guests and lead the discussion. The lecture series exposes graduate students to new work in the field, including new methodologies and emerging areas of research and teaching. By giving students the opportunity to select speakers, it actively engages them in the cultural and intellectual life of the department. Students benefit from observing the different possible formats and styles of academic talks. By organizing and scheduling events, preparing speaker introductions and moderating questions and discussion, they also develop important professional skills.

Dissertation Workshop
Pierre Force
Open to all post-MPhil students in French. Discussion and peer review of work in progress including dissertation prospectuses and chapters and conference papers.

The Hermeneutic Tradition
Pierre Force
A historical and conceptual study of what it is to think historically, with a focus on the hermeneutic tradition from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Authors include Erasmus, Spinoza, Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, Collingwood, Gadamer, and Habermas.

19th-Century British and French Fiction
Elisabeth Ladenson and Nicholas Dames

Reading Social Theory
Camille Robcis and Susan Pedersen
This seminar focuses on seminal texts in 19th & 20th century European social and political thought, paying special attention to the contexts in which they were produced.  Each week, a primary text is paired with critical works from disciplines such as history, anthropology, literature, political theory, history of science, psychoanalysis.

Art after History
Maria Stavrinaki
Mimetic Uses of the “Musée Imaginaire” of Malraux in the 1950s-1960s. André Malraux’s Museum without Walls (1947) aims to “destroy” art history through the production of an eternal present of art in continuous metamorphosis. My course will focus on the mimetic uses of Malraux’s Opus by very different artists in the 1950s and the 1960s, in order to show an important anti-historical shift not only in art, but in the thought and politics of this period. The universalist formalism of Malraux’s montage of photographs encourages a multitude of formal, philosophical and political appropriations of his model: books, displays, archives, films, artistic conferences may signify the entry into post-history and the legitimation of “ultimate” painting according to Ad Reinhardt in the United States, the analogical and utopian present of the Independent Group in England, and a racialist conception of art by the Danish Asger Jorn. The filmmaker Chris Marker was the only artist who didn’t adopt this anti-historical posture, but found in Malraux’s model a way to express the “tragic of memory,” a possible combination of the universal and the particular, of struggle for freedom and melancholy of defeat. In the last part of my courses, I will attempt to situate the case study of the “Imaginary Museum of Artists” in a more general anti- and post-historical turn in the 1950s, linking mostly art and anthropology.

The world on the page: cosmology in medieval literature
Sarah Kay
This course is about interactions on the page between texts and images and the way they together represent and frame aspects of the world, making them appear close or distant, central or peripheral, but above all perceptible and intelligible to the reader’s eye. The world thus represented includes people, land, and sky, and the multiple connections between them. Pages such as this reveal the intermediality of medieval “literature” and the plasticity of the medieval “world-view,” thanks to the complex ways they mediate these interconnections.

The Middle Ages witnessed both intense curiosity about the world and extraordinary developments in book design, with the flowering of illuminated vernacular manuscripts between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries picking up from the production of exquisite Latin ones in the Carolingian period. The pages we study in this course are drawn from interconnected textual clusters that foreground transmutation (principally Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the French Moralized Ovid), gender and sexuality (Guillaume de Lorris’s Romance of the Rose and Machaut’s Fountain of Love), and learning (Alan of Lille’s Anticlaudianus and Christine de Pizan’s Path of Long Study), works that range in date from early imperial Rome to fifteenth-century France; the majority are composed in early forms of French, others in various forms of Latin. They will be made available in modern English translation but the course will provide opportunities to work on them in the original languages and to engage with original manuscripts, online and in person.

Our discussions will be supported by thinkers who reflect on relations between format and knowledge, and the variability of one relative to the other. According to Deleuze and Guattari, faces, landscapes, skyscapes, and the page, are all surfaces pointed with meaning that also imply interiority or depth. For Anne-Marie Christin, the page enables not only the organization and understanding of space, but also conjures it into being: pages frame the world, but they are also framed by it. Deleuze and Guattari are in part informed by Stoic physics and Christin by Heidegger’s later writings on art; we will also draw on theories of mediation, translation theory, and theories of ekphrasis, as appropriate.

This course is of value to both graduate students and advanced undergraduates in French, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Comparative Literature, Classics, History of Science, Art History, and History.