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French Graduate Seminars, Spring 2014

FREN 520        Addressing Love: Medieval Literature and Psychoanalysis
(cross-listed with CPLT 751 and PSP 789)
Thursdays, 4-7PM

Content: How do psychoanalysis and literature address – each in its own way- the question of love? And to whom or to what is love addressed? Starting with courtly love, we will focus on what Lacan has called “the inhuman partner” of courtly love through close readings of selected poems by troubadours. We will also examine the relation of love to idealization, narcissism (both in Ovid’s version of the myth of Narcissus and Echo, and in Guillaume de Lorris’s Romance of the Rose), the inscription of feminine desire in the letters of Heloise to Abelard as well as the “love of philosophy” as it is staged in Abelard’s autobiography.  This course will be taught in English.

Texts may include selected poems by troubadours such as Guillaume IX, Rudel; Guillaume de Lorris Romance of the Rose; Freud “On Narcissism;” Ovid “Narcissus and Echo” in Metamorphosis; Lacan “Courtly Love as Anamorphosis” in Seminar VII The Ethics of Psychoanalysis; Zizek “Courtly Love, Or, Woman as Thing” in The Metastases of Enjoyment: On Women and Causality; Béroul Tristan and Iseut; Abelard The Story of My Misfortunes; The letters of Abelard and Heloise Correspondance. 


FREN 530        La Renaissance / Ailleurs / Autrement
(cross-listed with CPLT 752R)
Thursdays, 1-4PM
Content :  Ailleurs et autrement, c’est à dire comme le point focal d’une série ouverte de décentrements et d’anachronismes qui réalisent et déréalisent la Renaissance, comme période, dans ces domaines du savoir qui prennent en charge les paradoxes de l’énonciation et la formation des effets de perspective. Dans ce séminaire je vous propose donc de travailler sur la notion de périodisation elle-même comme catégorie critique, c’est-à-dire en tant qu’elle autorise des interventions et en interdit d’autres, en tant qu’elle exemplifie et qu’elle généralise ; en tant qu’elle humanise aussi, et ce faisant, sur fond de ce qui découpe le temps humain, en tant qu’elle donne lieu à l’émergence d’un corrélat – je n’ose pas dire encore de son corrélat – dans la notion d’extinction. La liste des textes à l’étude comprend entre autres, Jean de Léry (Histoire d’un Voyage) Marguerite de Navarre (Heptaméron), Hubert Damisch (Origine de la perspective), Alexandre Koyré (Du monde clos à l’univers infini),  Montaigne, Rabelais, Michel de Certeau, Tom Conley, Stephen Greenblatt, Paul Rabinow, Walter Mignolo, José Rabasa, Claire Colebrook et Carla Freccero.

FREN 780        French Hegel

(cross-listed with CPLT 751 and PHIL789)
Tuesdays 1-4PM

Content:  This course does not aim to cover the history of Hegel reception in France, but to identify and analyze the formation of a specifically "French Hegel" in the work of some major twentieth-century French thinkers. We shall begin from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as influentially (mis-)read by Alexandre Kojčve in lectures from the 1930’s subsequently published as Introduction ŕ la lecture de Hegel, and initially follow the traces and effects of this reading in Georges Bataille, Jacques Lacan and Maurice Blanchot. In the second part of the course we shall consider the non-Kojevian readings of Hegel proposed by Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Jean-Luc Nancy. No prior knowledge of Hegel is required. All readings will be available in English.

Texts: Hegel, G.W.F., Phenomenology of Spirit, tr, Miller (Oxford University Press, 1976); ISBN-10: 0198245971
Kojčve, Alexandre, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (Cornell University Press, 1980); ISBN-10: 0801492033

FREN 780        Literature and Justice:  Writers on Trial

(cross-listed with CPLT 751)
Mondays, 4-7PM

Content:  History has put on trial a series of outstanding thinkers.  At the dawn of philosophy, Socrates drinks the cup of poison to which he is condemned by the Athenians for his influential teaching, charged with atheism, and corruption of the youth.  Centuries later, in modernity, similarly influential Oscar Wilde is condemned by the English for his homosexuality, as well as for his provocative artistic style.  In France, Emile Zola is condemned for defending a Jew against the state, which has convicted him.  E. M. Forster writes about a rape trial / race trial of an Indian by the colonizing British Empire. 

However different, all these accused have come to stand for something greater than themselves: something that was symbolized -- and challenged -- by their trials.  Through the examination of a series of historical and literary trials, this course will ask:  Why are literary writers, philosophers and creative thinkers, repetitively put on trial, and how in turn do they put culture and society on trial?  What is the role of Art in Justice? More generally: what is the role of literature (and film) as a political actor in the struggles over ethics, and the struggles over meaning?

Selected readings chosen among: Plato; Oscar Wilde; Flaubert; Baudelaire; Emile Zola; E. M. Forster; Melville; Dostoyevsky; Chekhov; Bertolt Brecht; Walter Benjamin; Hannah Arendt; Spinoza; Jacques Lacan; Kafka; Virginia Woolf.

Particulars: Regular attendance; two short papers; brief oral presentations; intensive weekly reading and active  (annotated) preparation of texts for class discussion; ongoing participation.


FREN 785        “OHO! CONGO!”: Literature and War in the Two Congos
(cross-listed with CPLT 751)
Wednesdays, 1-4PM

Content:  In his 1956 poem “Congo”, Léopold Sédar Senghor sings of his love for the Congo River, praising the mythical beauty of the Congolese landscape as the embodiment of a beloved Africa he wishes to restore to its former glory. Located in the center of the African continent, traversed by one of the world’s largest rivers and home to some of the earth’s most precious natural resources, the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa, formerly Zaire) were once the pride of Africa. However, in the wake of the Berlin Conference of 1885, which signed over one Congo to the personal property of Belgian King Léopold II and the other to the French colonial empire, the remains of the region’s riches became the object of one of the world’s deadliest wars.
This course investigates the representation of Africa in the works of Congolese poets, novelists and playwrights. Indeed, if one can even speak of viable national literature in Francophone Africa, it would have to be that of the DRC and its neighboring Congo. Seemingly against all odds, an unrivaled literary production rises from the chaos of two countries torn apart by dictatorships, poverty, social unrest, ethnic wars, racial massacres and forced migrations. In tackling the socio-political realities of this conflict-ridden region, the works of Tchicaya U Tam’si, Emmanuel Dongala, Henri Lopès, V. Y. Mudimbe, Sony Labou Tansi, Marie Léontine Tsibinda, Clémentine Madiya Faïk-Nzuji and Alain Mabanckou offer a formal ingenuity and thematic forcefulness that have made them classics of the African literary canon.  Analysis of these authors focuses on the poetics of place and the ethics of war and displacement through theories of postcolonialism (Fanon, Appiah, Bhabha, Mudimbe, Mbembe), cosmopolitanism (Appiah, Robbins) and human rights (Cheah, Shivji). Our literary and theoretical readings will be supplemented by historical and anthropological works by Nzongola-Ntalaja, Turner, Trefon, Ikambana and a film by Raoul Peck.




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