Graduate course descriptions

 FALL 2018


FREN GR4025
Practicum in French Language Pedagogy
Dr. P. Hubert-Leibler
Designed for first-time teaching fellows (second-year graduate students). The goal of the course is to provide novice instructors with practical support throughout their first semester of teaching, help them learn about and apply best practices, and give them a theoretical foundation in second-language pedagogy.

FREN GU4800
Questions in African Literature
Prof. S.B. Diagne
The seminar will examine the writing of violence, resistance and hope in two films by Ousmane Sembène and four novels dealing with the genocide in Rwanda. The novels are Boubacar Boris Diop’s Murambi, le livre des ossements, Veronique Tadjo’s L’ombre d’Imana, voyage jusqu’au bout du Rwanda; Abdourahman Waberi’s Moisson de crânes, and Tierno Monenembo’s L’aîné des orphelins. Sembene’s films are Moolaadé and Guelwar

FREN GU4xxx (new course)
Derrida and His Others
Prof. E. Balibar
A study of Derrida’s work using as a guiding thread a comparison with contemporary “others” who have addressed the same question albeit from an antithetic point of view:
1) Derrida with Althusser on the question of historicity
2) Derrida with Deleuze on the question of alterity, focusing on their analyses of linguistic difference
3) Derrida with Habermas on the question of cosmopolitanism and hospitality

FREN GR8091
Proseminar. Introduction to Literary Research
Prof. P. Force
This course is designed for first-year graduate students in French. It is an introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of literary research.

FREN GR8789
How to teach French Civilization
Prof. T. Dodman
This class prepares graduate students to teach “Civilization” classes in French departments, a qualification that is increasingly being demanded for positions in the field. It does so by examining major themes in French politics, culture and society, and by placing these in historical context. By studying historiographical and methodological debates, students also work towards refining their own research topics.

FREN GR8xxx (new course)
Proust and Sainte-Beuve
Prof. A. Compagnon
A seminar on the origins of the Recherche in the pamphlet Contre Sainte-Beuve, both an essay and a narrative drafted by Proust around 1908. But who was Sainte-Beuve? And how did the monumental novel curiously emerge out of a quarrel with a 19th-century critic? We will also look at the various attempts to reconstitute the tentative work, buried deep in the Recherche.

FRHS GR8xxx (new course)
Gender As Critique
Prof. C. Robcis
In recent years, conservative and religious activists throughout Europe and Latin America have organized massive street protests against what they are calling “the theory of gender.” Although rarely defined, this “theory of gender” has been decried as the inspiration for women and LGBT rights and it has come to encapsulate a series of wide-ranging fears and fantasies from individualism, Marxism, hyper-liberalism, to the dissolution of the self. The goal of this seminar is to explore different scholarly articulations of gender, in order to understand why this concept appears so threatening today. What does it mean to consider gender as a method rather than an object and how does it shift in relation to sex, class, and race? The course will begin with more “classic” accounts of gender (Beauvoir, Lévi-Strauss, Rubin, Wittig, Butler, Foucault, Scott) before turning to recent critical works across various disciplines (history, anthropology, literature, political theory, history of science, and psychoanalysis).


SPRING 2019


FREN GU4203
French Literature of the Sixteenth Century
Instructor TBA

FREN GR4xxx (new course)
French and Francophone Literary and Cultural Theory
Prof. M. Dobie
This course introduces students to significant concepts, authors and movements in literary and cultural thought with an emphasis on writing in French. 'French theory' has become shorthand for a rich vein of contemporary thinking about culture that engages with Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism and various philosophical traditions. This course expands the typical scope of this corpus to include seminal works of thinkers from former French colonies. The course is organized into five interconnected units: theories of text, narrative and authorship; gender, the body and writing; colonialism, cultural resistance and hybridity; the politics of cultural production; francophone, postcolonial and world literature and the question of translation. Authors include: Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, Pierre Bourdieu, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Hélène Cixous, Michel de Certeau, Maryse Condé, Christine Delphy, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Assia Djebar, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Gérard Genette, Edouard Glissant, Abdelkébir Khatibi, Julia Kristeva, Henri Lefèvre, Achille Mbembe, Albert Memmi and Jacques Rancière.

ENFR GU4xxx (new course)
Women in 19th-Century French and English Novels
Prof. E. Ladenson; Prof. N. Dames (Dept. of English)
This course will examine the different portrayals of women in the 19th-century novel in France and England. Readings will include Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Eliot's Middlemarch, and Zola's Nana.

FREN GR8316
Diderot and the Disciplines
Prof. J. Stalnaker
One of the central concerns of Denis Diderot’s famous Encyclopédie — the “machine de guerre” of the Enlightenment — was the organization of human knowledge. In this course, we will read Diderot’s remarkably wide-ranging corpus as an occasion to think critically and historically about the organization of disciplines in his time and our own. On the one hand, the range of Diderot’s polymathic writings indicates the extent to which our modern disciplinary divisions were not operative during the Enlightenment: his work ran the gamut from natural philosophy, to theater, to the novel, to moral philosophy, to political theory, to medicine, with significant overlap among these areas. On the other hand, he contributed to the elaboration of a number of modern disciplines, both through his reflection on knowledge in the Encyclopédie and through his forays into new modes of knowledge such as art criticism and anthropology. We will read his works both in their Enlightenment context and in the context of recent critical reflections on the organization of knowledge and the problems it poses in our own interdisciplinary, information-laden age.

FREN GR8xxx (new course)
Sociology of Everyday Life
Prof. A. Gabel
Mid-to-late 20th-century France saw the rise of literary practices less centered on narrative, and more on the experience of everyday life. Influenced by scholars from diverse intellectual traditions (like Marxism, history, anthropology, sociology, and psychoanalysis), authors and intellectuals directed their attention to analyzing, understanding, and documenting lived experience. We will consider how literature engaged in “comportements analogiques” to sociology, undertaking its own critical investigation of le quotidien.

FREN GR8xxx (new course)
The Bergson Moment and Its Meanings
Prof. S.B. Diagne
This seminar will examine the significance of a “Bergson moment” in the history of French philosophy. In a first part, different works by Henri Bergson will be studied with a particular emphasis on his reflections on art and literature. The second part will be devoted to the reception of Bergson’s thought beyond France, among intellectuals from the colonial world in particular Indian poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal and Senegalese poet and thinker Léopold Sédar Senghor.

FALL 2017


FREN GR4025
Practicum in French Language Pedagogy
Dr. P. Hubert-Leibler
For first-time Teaching Fellows (second-year graduate students). The goal of the course is to provide novice instructors with practical support throughout their first semester of teaching, help them learn about and apply best practices, and give them a theoretical foundation in second-language pedagogy. 

FREN GU4625
The 68-Effect in French Theory
Prof. E. Balibar
A study of the relationship between the May 68 events in Paris and "French theory," with a focus on 1) “Power and Knowledge” (Foucault and Lacan); 2) “Desire” (Deleuze-Guattari and Irigaray); 3) “Reproduction” (Althusser and Bourdieu-Passeron).

FREN GR8618
African Literature and Philosophy
Prof. S.B. Diagne
The seminar will examine the poetry and the philosophical writings of Negritude authors Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001) from Senegal, Aimé Césaire (1913- 2008) from Martinique and Léon Gontran Damas (1912-1978) from Guyana in connection with the works of Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Levy-Bruhl, Sartre, and Teilhard de Chardin. Discussions on philosophical questions of identity and difference, or of an African aesthetics, or of universalism will be combined with close readings of the poetry and theater of the three authors.

CLHS GR8916
French Empires
Prof. E. Saada
As in many other European countries in the last twenty years, the historiography of France has been reshaped by interest in the imperial trajectory of the nation. This class will explore this 'imperial turn', and examine its specificity vis-à-vis the historiographies of other European empires. We will examine the questions that have been at the center of the historian's agenda: what kind of historical processes are revealed (or masked) by the imperial perspective? How do we think historically about the relationships between nation, republic and empire?  How has the 'imperial turn' shaped the categories and writing practices of historians? What are the contributions of historians to the understanding of post-colonialism?

FREN GR8420
Rousseau and his Critics
Prof. J. Stalnaker
In this course we will read Rousseau through the lens of the extremely polarized critical reactions his writings have elicited, from Diderot to Derrida and beyond. We will try to understand why this figure has been viewed as an exemplar of both the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment, as a defender of human liberty and as a proto-fascist, as an inspiration to women writers and as a misogynist. We will also address the ways Rousseau defined himself and his work, often in opposition to his fellow philosophes and critics. The course will be held in French, but papers may be written in English for students outside the French department.

FREN GR8091
Proseminar: Introduction to Literary Research
Prof. P. Force
Designed for first-year graduate students. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of literary research.

CLFR GR8547
Structures of Feeling: Emotions in History and Literature
Prof. T. Dodman
This seminar initiates graduate students in the humanities and social sciences to the historical study of emotions broadly defined. It provides an interdisciplinary genealogy of a field recently propelled into the spotlight by the so-called “biological turn,” and pushes to reflect upon the opportunities and pitfalls of studying emotions. Topics covered include: anthropological and psychological understandings of emotion; affect theory and its critique; what insights neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and evolutionary biology can bring to the humanities; and, conversely, what a historically grounded approach to emotion can provide to a critical understanding of society and culture.


SPRING 2018


HIST GU4110
French America, 1534-1804
Prof. P. Force
A study of the French Atlantic World from the exploration of Canada to the Louisiana Purchase and Haitian Independence, with a focus on the relationship between war and trade, forms of intercultural negotiation, the economics of slavery, and the changing meaning of race. The course is designed for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

FREN GU4418
Eloquent Animals in Medieval Literature
Prof. E. Zingesser
Medieval literature, like contemporary literature, sometimes features talking animals. But medieval grammatical treatises describe non-human animal utterances as meaningless and (usually) as untranscribable in writing. Some human utterances also fall into this category—a fact that grammatical treatises acknowledge—, rendering language alone an inadequate means of shoring up the species boundary. When authors liken their own language to that of a non-human animal, such as the myriad medieval poets who profess to "sing like the birds," is this a serious claim, leading to experimental poetics? When non-human animals "speak" in medieval fiction, do they speak differently from their human counterparts? This seminar surveys texts in which animals communicate—via language or via other symbolic systems. How, if at all, did medieval authors attempt to draw the line between human and non-human animals? Our reading will include lyric poetry by the troubadours and trouvères, Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, Philomena, selected lais by Marie de France, the Novas del papagai (The Story of the Parrot), the Roman de Renart, and Gaston Phébus's Le livre de chasse. Alongside these texts, we will read theoretical reflections on language and sound, both medieval and modern, including medieval catalogs of animal "noises" and grammatical treatises on voice. Contemporary reflections by Derrida, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Mladen Dolar and others.

FREN GU4730
Discovering Existence
Prof. S.B. Diagne
Modern science marking the end of the closed world meant that Earth, the abode of the human being, lost its natural position at the center of the universe. The passage from the Aristotelian closed world to the infinite universe of modern science raised the question of the meaning of human existence, which is the topic of the seminar.  How that question continued to resonate in French literature and philosophy, will be examined, first through the study of texts by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century; then through the reading of texts centered around the topic of the “discovery of existence” (echoing, as we will see, many of Pascal’s topics): texts by Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon and Albert Camus will thus be analyzed. 

FREN GR8626
The Maghreb in Transition: Culture and Society in North Africa Since 1990
Prof. M. Dobie
In this course, we explore cultural production in the contemporary Maghreb. We consider how important dimensions of social and political life are explored in literature and film as well as the role of these and other media in shaping social and political dynamics. We focus on Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, though we also situate these nations in broader regional and global contexts. As former French colonies, these three nations share a multilingual cultural environment in which French coexists with Arabic. Though our sources are primarily in French, we examine material produced in both languages with options to read/watch in translation. Most of the course materials are also available in English translation.

The course begins in roughly 1990, a time of disenchantment when the political leadership brought to power at Independence was replaced or at least challenged. We explore the dynamics of Algeria’s ‘Black Decade’, Morocco’s emergence from the ‘Years of lead’ and, with an eye to more recent developments, Tunisia’s ‘Arab spring’ as well as less punctual and less highly mediatized currents of social and economic life. Our primary focus is on the varied ways in which the arts and cultural media have responded 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 aesthetic responses to violence and the theorization of trauma and memory; the changing geography and sociology of migration and the changing landscape of media and publication. Many of our sources explore the meaning of ‘modernity’, often in conjunction with explorations of subjectivity and spirituality, gender and sexuality.

FREN GR8417
Pascal, Hermeneutics and Rhetoric
Prof. P. Force
A study of Blaise Pascal’s complete works, including the Pensées, the Lettres provinciales, and the Entretiens sur Epictète et Montaigne, with a focus on issues of persuasion, Biblical interpretation, epistemology, and politics.