Department of French and Romance Philology  





Columbia University’s Directory of Classes
Class schedules are accessible here: Directory of Classes.


.Graduate Courses FALL 2015

FREN G4025 Practicum in French Pedagogy (Pascale Hubert-Leibler)

Designed for new Teaching Fellows. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of French language pedagogy.

FREN G4623 Foucault’s critiques of Marxism (Etienne Balibar)

The class will examine the different “critiques” of Marxism proposed by Foucault and the different effects that they produce on our understanding of Marx and the relevance of his theory for our present, focusing on the central sequence between 1971 and 1976, when Foucault (in implicit rivalry with Althusser), proposes an “alternative Marxism” addressing issues of State power, reproduction, and social war in his Lectures at the Collège de France, now entirely available in French. This will be preceded by a review of Foucault’s early “epistemological” critique of Marxism, and followed by an overview of his late description of neo-liberal governmentality as a rectification of the understanding of homo oeconomicus (or the capitalist form of subjectivity).

FREN G8091 Proseminar I 

Designed for first-year graduate students. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of literary research.

FREN G8215 Rereading of Roland Barthes (Antoine Compagnon)  

35 years after his death, and for the centennial of his birth in November 1915. Interest will be focused on the major periods of his work, from Existentialism and Marxism, to Structuralism and Psychoanalysis, Post-Structuralism and Textuality, Photography and the Novel. Emphasis will be put on the confrontation with a series of competing personalities. 

CLHS G8420 (Comp. Lit./History) The Hermeneutic Tradition (Pierre Force)

A conceptual and historical study of what it is to read historically, with a focus on the hermeneutic tradition. Authors include Erasmus, Spinoza, Schleiermacher, Droysen, Dilthey, Heidegger, R.G. Collingwood, Gadamer, Habermas, and Hayden White.

FREN G8616 African Lit. and Philosophy: Negritude and Poetry. (Bachir Diagne)

The course will be the study of the poetic and cultural movement known as "negritude" initiated in the late 1930's by Senghor, from Senegal, Cesaire,from Martinique and Damas from Guyana. In particular Senghor and Cesaire's theoretical texts on the philosophy of negritude will be studied along with their poetry but also the works of other francophone writers associated with the movement: Birago Diop and Cheikh Hamidou Kane.

Graduate Courses SPRING 2016

FREN G6005 Stylistics (Vincent Debaene)

The linguistic fundamentals of the study of style: the function of language; language and discourse; pragmatic aspects of communication; theories of literarity; notions of style; models of classic rhetoric. The theories and methods of modern stylistics. Style resources: lexicon; syntax; prosody; the grammar of the text; composition; narrative techniques; argumentation; metrics; prosodics. The text and the intertext. Stylistic analysis from the 16th to the 20th century of French texts in prose and in verse.

FREN G8… Queer Love in Medieval France (Eliza Zingesser)

What did it mean to be queer in the francophone Middle Ages? Was there such a thing? The term ‘sodomy’ was used in the period to describe a wide variety of acts (not all sexual), and the term would seem to foreclose the possibility of female same-sex desire. The questions we will address include the following: In an era in which all non-procreative sex was conceived as sinful, does the opposition between homosexual and heterosexual still hold?  How does reproductive discourse underpin medieval conceptions of artistic creation? Was male and female homosexuality conceived symmetrically? Our readings will take us through a broad range of genres—from penance manuals to lyric poetry to romance. Texts include Marie de France’s lais, troubadour songs, Alan of Lille’s Plaint of Nature, the Roman d’Enéas, Heldris of Cornwall’s Le Roman de Silence and selected saints’ lives.

FREN G8417 Pascal (Pierre Force)

A study of Blaise Pascal’s complete works, including the Pensées, the Lettres provinciales, and the Ecrits sur la grâce, with a focus on issues of persuasion, Biblical interpretation, epistemology, and politics.

FREN G8… Diderot and the Disciplines (Joanna 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. The course will be given in English with readings in French and English. If you are unable to read French but are interested in the course, please contact the instructor to discuss the possibility of doing the readings in English.  

FREN G8626 The Maghreb in Transition: Literature and Cinema in Contemporary Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (Madeleine Dobie)

In this course we explore recent literature and film from North Africa, asking how the region's political trajectories have intersected with developments in the sphere of the arts. Our examination begins in the 1990s with the violent conflict of Algeria's Black Decade, and continues through the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and its complex aftermath. We consider how cultural productions have participated in political opposition as well as their role as custodians of repressed memory. Over the last quarter century,  new media, genres and aesthetic currents have emerged in the region, and new writers and film-makers have won recognition. We examine some of the most interesting examples of this Maghrebi new wave. The course is divided into units examining questions such as gender and sexual politics, the changing realities of migration and transnationalism, new media, and developments in the production and circulation of literature and film. The Course is taught in English. Readings are in French and English and students may write in either language, though French Department students should write in French. Each member of the seminar will undertake a research project focusing on a particular artist or work, which s/he will introduce in a multimedia class presentation and write up as a final paper. 

FREN G9701 Dissertation Seminar (Vincent Debaene)

Open to all post MPHIL students (i.e., who are in the early stages of preparing or researching a dissertation and those who are at the writing stage), this seminar provides advanced training in developing research projects, conceptualizing arguments, presenting grant proposals and writing the dissertation. Students currently writing prospectuses and dissertations will have opportunities to workshop their material.

Previous Course Offerings

Spring 2015

GG4290: “Renegade Sexualities and the Writing of the Self” (Elisabeth Ladenson)

Over the course of the 20th century French literature became increasingly preoccupied with interrogations of gender roles and “deviant” forms of sexuality, often taking the form of first-person narrative. We will read narrative and theoretical works by Colette, André Gide, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Genet, Violette Leduc, Monique Wittig, and Virginie Despentes, concentrating on depictions of female sexual agency, homosexuality, and prostitution, among other topics. Discussion will be in English; texts may be read in French or in English.

FREN G8524: “Youth of Poets, Age of the City” (Ben Williams)

This survey of 19th-century poetry follows two principle themes: first, the fascination exerted by poetic careers ended at an early age (e.g. Chénier, Lautréamont, Rimbaud). Second, we will read poems marked by consciousness of the passage between or overlapping of historical ages (Nerval, Baudelaire).

FREN G8214: Qu'est-ce que la littérature?  (Vincent Debaene)

This class will address the famous Sartrean question: "what is literature?" not only through the various answers it has received during the 20th and 21st centuries, but also through a sociological, historical and theoretical reflection on the very possibility of the question itself.

We will consider some scholarly texts on the history of the category of literature as well as theoretical texts by Sartre, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu, Rancière, among others. We will also try to adopt a comparative perspective on a question which appears so quintessentially French.

The class will be taught in French and the readings will be in French.

FREN G9701 Dissertation Seminar (Madeleine Dobie)

Open to all post MPHIL students (i.e., who are in the early stages of preparing or researching a dissertation and those who are at the writing stage), this seminar provides advanced training in developing research projects, conceptualizing arguments, presenting grant proposals and writing the dissertation. Students currently writing prospectuses and dissertations will have opportunities to workshop their material.

Fall 2014

G4025 Pedagogy (Pascale Hubert-Leibler)

Designed for new Teaching Fellows; an introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of French language pedagogy.

G4800 Questions in African Literature (Bachir Diagne)

The course, will examine the writing of violence, resistance and hope in five West African novels and two films about colonialism, despotism, civil war, and genocide. The novels are Sembene Ousmane’s Les bouts de bois de Dieu,Yambo Ouologuem’s Le devoir de violence, Boubacar Boris Diop’s Murambi le livre des ossements, Veronique Tadjo’s L’ombre d’Imana, voyage jusqu’au bout du Rwanda and Tanella Boni’s Matins de couvre-feu; the films are Moolaade by Ousmane Sembene and Finye by Souleymane Cisse .

G4622 Jacques Derrida (Etienne Balibar)

Our aim in this class will be to construct a trajectory across the work of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), which combines philosophy and literature by means of a new notion of writing, deconstructing their traditional antithesis. In the end, what is reached by Derrida is nothing less than the critique of “Western” categorizations of universality and rationality, and the possibility of a new internationalism.

G8091 Proseminar (Elisabeth Ladenson)

The Proseminar is designed to serve as a general introduction to graduate study in French/francophone and comparative literature and culture. The course is entirely discussion-based; there are no writing assignments, and readings will be assigned on an ad hoc basis. We will begin by discussing the basic elements of graduate research, writing, and oral presentation. We will then proceed to a historical survey of approaches to literary criticism and theory, starting with the classical tradition. Students will be responsible for presentation of critical and theoretical approaches. The textbook is the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, to be supplemented as needed.

G8789 Teaching French Civilization (Emmanuelle Saada)

This class’ principal objective is to prepare graduate students to teach “Civilization” classes in French departments, as an increasing number of positions in the field require this qualification. A secondary goal is to equip French department PhD students with a understanding of France’s modern history and historiography to help them contextualize the literary works and other cultural artifacts they examine in their teaching and research.

G8214 Rabelais and Montaigne (Antoine Compagnon)

Close reading of Rabelais and Montaigne, in the context of the Renaissance, the rise of the individual, the religious quarrels, the civil wars, the discovery of the New World, the progress of science.

G8334 Early Modern Tragic Bodies (Sylvaine Guyot)

This course examines the relationship between the tragic and physicality through considering the “bloody” plays of the Baroque period, the canonical authors of the “Grand siècle” and the bourgeois tragedies of the Enlightenment. Is the body inevitably tragic? Is the tragic dimension of physical existence a universal principle or is it viewed differently according to various cultures? Is tragedy a genre in which the body is aestheticised, or rather a genre that exposes on stage the materiality of the flesh? Such are the questions that we will examine within the political and aesthetic context of early modern France.

G8224 Le Roman de la rose and Medieval Discourses of Nature (Jonathan Morton)

Taking as its main focus the thirteenth-century allegory Le roman de la rose, this course will consider the poem itself and its curious position as a touchstone for discussions of nature, art, and ethics in the Middle Ages. The first half of the course will involve close readings of the Rose with a particular focus on questions about language, obscenity, and desire. For the second part, we will consider how the Rose responds to and participates in different debates in medieval poetry and philosophy, such as the ethics of money, the relationship between art and nature, and queer desire.


G4601 Thinking the Image in the French 20th century (TBA)
In this course, we will read works from 20th century novelists, essayists and philosophers as they engage with photographic and filmic images. Authors studied include: André Bazin, Annie Ernaux, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Patrick Modiano, Marguerite Duras, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Ranciere and Marie-José Mondzain.

G8417 Pascal Hermeneutics and Rhetoric (P.Force)
This seminar deals with the connections between hermeneutics and rhetoric in Pascal. We will focus on the notion of Figure, which applies to both fields in a problematic way. We will use ancient hermeneutics and literary theory in order to define Pascal's general theory of interpretation

CLFR G4000 Theories of Literature (J. Stalnaker)
This course will offer an introduction to theories of literature, organized around key issues (such as the author, text and context, the reader, style, genre, literature vs. history and literature vs. science) and in depth readings of major texts that have marked the theoretical debates surrounding them. The course will be taught in French but papers may be written in English.

FRHS G6… French social theory from Emile Durkheim to Bruno Latour (E.Saada)
This class will explore the trajectory of a “science of the social” in France from the end of the nineteenth century to the present and reflect on the transformation of the concept of the “social” it entailed. Starting with the successful efforts by Emile Durkheim to institutionalize sociology as a field that federated all other forms of social analysis, the class will end with Bruno Latour’s critique of the concept of “the social.” On the way, we will read some of the major works by Marcel Mauss, Maurice Halbwachs, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, with attention to the relationship between different social sciences (sociology, anthropology, economics and history), the shared interest in the question of ‘categories,’ the recurring debate over the ‘scientific’ status of the social sciences and their relationship to politics, among others.

FR G8092 MA Essay Direction
Students should register for this course during the semester they expect to write and defend their MA thesis.

Spring 2013

Pierre Force
A one-semester survey of seventeenth-century French literature, with an emphasis on the relationship between literature and the major cultural, philosophical, and religious developments of the period.

Elisabeth Ladenson
This course offers an overview of 19th-century French literature through one of its most insistent themes: female sexuality, as seen by male authors. From Balzac’s frustrated spinster in La Vieille fille (1836) to Zola’s Nana (1880), the prostitute who devours everything she encounters, we will examine a representative selection of depictions of women in 19th-century literature, including Mérimée’s Carmen (1844), Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857), selections from Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal (1857), Barbey d’Aurevilly’s Les Diaboliques (1874), and Maupassant’s Boule de suif (1880). Readings will be in French; discussion in English.

Souleymeane Bachir Diagne
The course will be centered on the topic of dis-location as we will examine different meanings of that notion (fragmentation, disruption of order, displacement…) through the reading of six Senegalese novels, ranging from the colonial period to the most contemporary. Will be studied then: Maïmouna, by Abdoulaye Sadji, Les bouts de bois de Dieu, by Sembène Ousmane, Une si longue Lettre, by Mariama Bâ, La grève des battu, by Aminata Sow Fall, Le baobab fou, by Ken Bugul, Le ventre de l’Atlantique by Fatou Diome.

Madeleine Dobie
This course considers literary and cinematic reflections on migration, exile and the formation of transnational and diasporic communities. Migration has been a feature of every historical period and geopolitical context. We focus on the migration of people, languages, capital, ideas and artistic forms in the crosscurrents of the contemporary Mediterranean, notably France and the former French colonies of North Africa and the Middle East. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we read works of fiction in conjunction with philosophical, historical, anthropological and sociological accounts. Readings and films are organized around several concepts/categories that have shaped recent thinking about processes of transfer and displacement: ‘exile’; ‘immigration/emigration’; ‘diaspora’; ‘hospitality’; transnationalism’; ‘globalization/mondialisation’ and ‘the Mediterranean’. We consider how these different concepts name and frame migratory experience. Questions for discussion include the relationship between social and economic processes and the cultural/aesthetic sphere, the place of gender and sexuality in migration, and the strategies and ethical grounds of films and literary works that challenge the politics of immigration or the forces of economic globalization.

Fall 2012

Pascale Hubert-Leibler
Designed for new Teaching Fellows. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of French language pedagogy.

FREN G4105 FRENCH MEDIEVAL LITERATURE LIT. OF MIDDLE AGES: The Roman de la Rose, a masterwork and the open text, from the 13th to the 16th century (in French)
Sylvie Lefèvre
In this seminar we will study Roman de la Rose, first attributed to Guillaume de Lorris and then the second author, Jean de Meun. Is the second part of the work a mere commentary of the previous, an attempt to deconstruct it, or the continuation which gave success to the whole?

We will see the lasting influence of the first Roman de la Rose on the allegorical writings and the debate on misogyny, feminism and fiction at the beginning of the 15th century. Then there are the rewritings: Jean Molinet’s on the one hand, and the pseudo-Clément Marot’s on the other. Why then has the Roman de la Rose almost disappeared in France, unlike the Commedia in Italy?

Phillip Usher
In this course, students will be introduced to French Renaissance literature via the historical and theoretical question of France's relationship to the rest of the world and to evolving understandings of the oikoumene and of human diversity in the light of the discovery of the New World (thus: the Americas, the Ottoman Empire, questions of alterity, national identity, race, the birth of ethnographic writing, etc.). Authors to be read include: Rabelais, Montaigne, Thevet, Léry, Du Bartas and Lescarbot. Modern thinkers to be discussed include: Foucault (on heterotopias), Lévi-Strauss, and others. For more details, check back soon at Phillip John Usher.

Vincent Debaene
A study of the engagement of early Francophone writers and intellectuals with anthropological knowledge during the colonial period. Authors include Hazoumé, Sissoko, Senghor, Damas, Roumain, Hampaté Bâ, Césaire.

Etienne Balibar

Elisabeth Ladenson
The Proseminar is designed as an introduction to graduate study in French literature and advanced study of literature in general. We will look at the history of approaches to literary criticism and theory from a variety of angles, starting with Plato and Artistotle and continuing through recent critical and theoretical trends. Specific readings and discussion topics will be chosen by the class as a whole at the start of the semester. We will use the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory as our basic textbook.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Negritude in conversation with Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson and Sartre.

The seminar will be a study of the philosophical and literary movement known as Negritude, created in the late 1930’s by black poets and thinkers Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001) from Senegal, Aimé Césaire (1913- 2008) from Martinique and  Léon Damas (1912-1978) from Guyana. The ways in which Negritude has developed in conversation with  the works of philosophers such as Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Levy-Bruhl, Sartre and Teilhard de Chardin will be examined.

The course will be in English. Part of the reading material will be in French but all texts will be studied in English.

Joanna Stalnaker

Emannuelle Saada

FALL 2011

Phil Watts
This semester's course will be devoted to a study of the writings of Jacques Rancière. We will read Rancière's major works, paying particular attention to his engagement with aesthetics, modernism, formalism, genre theory and film theory. We will also read Rancière in relation to major theoretical writings, including those of Althusser, Foucault, Bourdieu, Deleuze and Maurice Blanchot.

Etienne Balibar
NOTE: Sep. 27 - Nov 3: TuTh 6:10pm-8:50pm (12 sessions). This seminar requires an application. Please send an email to Assistant Director Catherine LaSota with the following information: name, program and year, relevant courses taken, a couple of sentences explaining interest in the course.

The course aims at rethinking the articulation of "insurrection" and "constitution" in the trajectory of modern citizenship. It begins with a return to the conflicts between vindications and critiques of the "natural rights" declared by bourgeois revolutionaries, and finishes with a discussion of the perspectives of a "citizenship beyond the institution" opened by the contemporary crisis of the national, social and imperial State. A turning point will be provided by the critical discussion of Hannah Arendt's statement of the "right to have rights" as a negative foundation of the political community.

Pascale Hubert-Leibler
Designed for new Teaching Fellows. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of French language pedagogy.

S. Bachir Diagne
A study of the theme of human existence confronted with the infinite universe of modern science (Pascal), with the proliferation of existence (Sartre), with the absurd (Camus), with the other (Levinas).

Sylvie Lefèvre
Situates the French language within the Romance languages by tracing its archeology from classical to popular Latin, then through Middle Ages. The basic notions of historical phonetics and an introduction to Old French. Translate texts from the 11th to the 15th centuries, with focus on those of 12th and 13th centuries.

Antoine Compagnon
Close reading of Baudelaire’s prose poems, with relation to the history and theory of the genre, the contemporary movement from prosody to free verse, the definition of modernity, the reception and influence of the collection, and the problematic meaning of a text that still challenges interpretation.

Pierre Force
A study of the emergence of political economy in eighteenth-century Britain and France, with a focus on the problematic relationship between economics and politics, and the gradual establishment of economics as a separate field of knowledge. Authors include Hobbes, Locke, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau, Smith, Say, and Ricardo.


Emmanuelle Saada
This class is an introduction to the political and cultural history of France since the Revolution. It will present and discuss the major historiographical debates of the past thirty years on Modern France. For the French PhD students, the class will also serve as an introduction to the teaching of French civilization.

Joanna Stalnaker
This course will consider both revolutions in theatrical form and practice, and the role that theater played in political revolutions, from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. What were the political implications of Diderot’s formal theatrical innovations and Rousseau’s virulent anti-theatrical critique? How did the stage both mirror and transform political events during the French Revolution? What were the various configurations of aesthetics and politics in the Romantic revolution? Authors will include Diderot, Rousseau, Beaumarchais, Sade, Gouges, Hugo, Sand, and Musset.

Vincent Debaene
In this course, we will study one of the main movements of 20th-century literary history, and art history in general. We will pay particular attention to the evolution of surrealism - since it never was a stable entity - and to its theoretical implications on such key notions as: the notion of author, of avant-garde, of automatism, of image or of work of art. Although centered on literature, the course will also consider some visual pieces (paintings, collages, sculptures, photographs, short films...).

The linguistic fundamentals of the study of style: the function of language; language and discourse; pragmatic aspects of communication; theories of literarity; notions of style; models of classic rhetoric. The theories and methods of modern stylistics. Style resources: lexicon; syntax; prosody; the grammar of the text; composition; narrative techniques; argumentation; metrics; prosodics. The text and the intertext. Stylistic analysis from the 16th to the 20th century of French texts in prose and in verse.

Sylvie Lefèvre
Jean de Saintré was completed and sent by Antoine de La Sale to his addressee in 1456, together with two other texts which form a collection. A laboratory of sorts for new forms of narration and for the staging of a new chivalry, this text’s reception has proven long, complex and rich. It is this reception, from the Middle Age to the XXth Century, that we propose to study. Topics will include: roman/nouvelle, symbols/signs, and medieval/modern.

Madeleine Dobie
This course will consider a few of the many works of literature, cinema, philosophy, and historiography that have responded to the Algerian War of Independence of 1954-62. Areas of study will include: the Algerian war and the emergence of Algerian literature; the War and the ‘École d’Alger’; the public debate over torture and human rights; the Algerian war as a precursor of 1968; Memory/commemoration of the war in Algeria and in France; gender in/and the Algerian war; the Algerian War in French/Algerian/colonial historiography, and violence and memory in the first, second, and third Algerian wars (1830-1954-1991).

Pierre Force
A study of changing conceptions of "the new" in science, philosophy and literature from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Authors include Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, La Bruyère, Fontenelle, Du Bos, Voltaire.


S. Bachir Diagne and Akeel Bilgrami

Fall 2010/Spring 2011

Phil Watts
Designed for first-year graduate students. An introduction to the conceptual and practical tools of literary research.

Sylvie Lefèvre
In a very specific subfield of text/image studies, we will look at works with an iconographic project.

Souleymane B. Diagne 
Negritude: Literature and Philosophy. The movement of Negritude started in the 1930s in Paris by African and Caribbean francophone writers was at once a literary and a philosophical project. The literature of Negritude will then be studied in this seminar as literature and as philosophy.

Elisabeth Ladenson
A general introduction to the Recherche (text read in French or English; discussion in English); we will read the entire text together and try to make sense of it and some critical approaches, as well as the history of its reception.

Pierre Force
A study of the rhetorical tradition in French literature from the late sixteenth to the late eighteenth century. Authors include Montaigne, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pascal, Bossuet, Longinus in Boileau’s translation, Rousseau, de Staël.

Antoine Compagnon
On and around 1966, essential literary, esthetic and theoretical works appeared in Paris. Through the lens of this extraordinary year, we will propose a thorough exploration and contextualization of the French late modernity and early post-modernity.

Etienne Balibar
The seminar will address a central issue concerning the relationship between “civic-bourgeois universalism” (which in the principle asserts limitless access for every human being to the complete range of civil and political rights), and the new function of anthropological differences (sex-gender, age, health-normality, intellectuality, race, etc.), and it will try to show how this tension has affected the ideas of subjection and subjectivation which, together, constitute the identity of the modern (philosophical) subject. Whereas in traditional societies such differences as sex, age, genealogy, are used to establish hierarchies among status groups and limit access to public functions, in modern polities which legitimize their institutions through an equalitarian notion of human rights, they become at the same time more pervasive and less stable, less authoritative and more violent (symbolically and/or physically).

Sylvie Lefèvre
Thursday, 4:10 - 6:00
(call number: 93200)

Singing, telling, writing: what is literature in the Middle Ages?
Defining what is literature is a recurrent issue, especially for the early periods. Since the French language in the early Middle Ages became a new medium of expression, besides Latin, it was a way to imagine new forms : chanson, chanson de geste, roman, lai, fabliau, etc. Modern critics, who have emphasized differences between oral and written words, literate and illiterate audiences, learned and vulgar cultures, gave the possibility of rethinking the medieval works in other ways. However their composition and reception often exceed these kinds of division. We will look at texts in their changing historic context and manuscripts, as well in modern editions and scholarly literature.

We will explore key notions as text and book, variant and variation, author and authority.

Titles or authors to be studied include : Serments de Strasbourg ; Chanson de Roland ; chansons de troubadours et trouvères ; Philippe de Thaon’s Bestiaire ; Roman de Renart ; Rutebeuf ; Adam de La Halle’s Jeu de Robin et de Marion ; Voir Dit de Guillaume de Machaut ; Lais et Testament de Villon ; Pathelin, etc.

Phillip John Usher
Monday, 6:10 - 8:00
(call number: 05160)

The Birth and Rebirth of the Genres in Sixteenth-Century French Literature
During the sixteenth century, French literature almost completely reinvented itself, shedding medieval forms, finding inspiration in the newly printed classics of Antiquity, and inventing some completely new modes and models. This course explores this moment through the study of several key literary genres (epic, tragedy, the novel, the essay) with a focus on generic forms and frontiers. In particular, we will look at the ongoing dialogues between old and new, between tradition and innovation, between translation and imitation, as well as at the contemporary and often generically inflected navigation between traditional and new geographic reference points (Ancient Rome, Modern Rome, Jerusalem, the New World). Authors to be studied include: d'Aubigné, Du Baïf, De Bèze, Dolet, Du Bellay, Garnier, Jodelle, Léry, Montaigne, Rabelais, and Ronsard. We will also be reading from Aristotle, Euripides, Seneca, Sophocles, Virgil, and other classical sources. By the end of the course, students will have a solid general knowledge of essential landmarks of the period’s literature and of some of the key critics and thinkers currently working in the field.

Phil Watts
Monday, 2:10 - 4:00 (call number: 26650)

The goal of this course is to study the ways in which films have participated in the debates about democracy in 20th century France. We will focus on the films of two moments of political crisis?the 1936 Popular Front and May 68 and we will raise some of the following questions: In what ways does genre condition our understanding of the work of art? What are some of the political and aesthetic differences between the films of the 1930s and the films of the late 1960s? How do we account for these differences? What is the relation between the fictional world and contemporary events? What exactly do we mean when we speak of an "art of the masses"? We will watch films by Vigo, Duvivier, Malraux, Bernard, Renoir, Godard, Varda, Duras, Marker and Truffaut. Readings include texts by André Bazin, Gilles Deleuze, and Serge Daney. This course will be taught in English.

Vincent Debaene
Thursday, 2:10 - 4:00 (call number: 22596)

The goal of this class is two-fold: it aims to provide first-hand knowledge of Rimbaud’s poetry, in order to understand the fascination he elicited among 20th-century writers and literary theorists. In other words, we will consider both Rimbaud the writer and Rimbaud the literary figure, both the work and the myth. The term will be divided into three parts, each of which will be devoted to one of Rimbaud’s “collections,” in chronological order (Poésies, Une saison en enfer, Illuminations). At the end of each of those three parts, we will address one of the aspects of Rimbaud’s legacy that made him so influential for the future of literature and of literary theory. We will read texts by 20th century writers on or about Rimbaud (André Breton, Georges Bataille, René Char, Maurice Blanchot, Yves Bonnefoy, Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, etc.) and consider the posterity of such ideas as that of “voyance” or that of “alchimie du verbe”, as well as the famous “silence de Rimbaud”.

Pierre Force
Tuesday, 4:10 - 6:00 (call number: 85283)

A historical and conceptual study of what it is to read historically, with a focus on the hermeneutic tradition. Authors include Erasmus, Spinoza, Schleiermacher, Droysen, Dilthey, R.G. Collingwood, Heidegger, Leo Spitzer, Jorge-Luis Borges, H.-G. Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, and Hayden White.

Joanna Stalnaker
Wednesday, 2:10 - 4:00 (call number: 60957)

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.

Souleymane B. Diagne
Wednesday, 4:00 – 6:00 (call number: TBA)

The seminar will examine the philosophy of Islamic mysticism through classical works that can be read as both philosophical and mystical. After preliminary considerations about Islamic Neo-Platonism, we will study works by classical philosophers such as Avicenna (on Mi’raj, Remarks and Admonitions), Al Ghazali (Deliverance from Error, The Niche of Lights), Ibn Tufayl (Hayy ibn Yaqzan), Suhrawardi (Philosophy of illumination), Ibn Arabi (On Being). The last part of the seminar will be devoted to the examination of the metaphysics and symbols of a particular Sufi order.

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