Courses

Fall 2019

FREN 505 - Problems in Foreign Language Teaching
Alexander Mendes - Monday, 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Introduction to foreign language teaching methodologies and practices. This course will offer a foundational background to the history of language teaching approaches, current trends in the field, and practical approaches to lesson planning, course building, assessment, and other major areas of concerns for language teachers. The course will involve observations and reflection on one's own teaching and will culminate in the development of a teaching portfolio.

Textbook: A multiliteracies framework for collegiate foreign language teaching (2015) by K. PAesani, H. Willis Allen, B. Dupuy, J. Liskin-Gasparro, and M. Lacorte ISBN - 0205954049 Pearson.  Other readings will be made available on Canvas.

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FREN 770 - Literature on the alert
Claire Nouvet - Wednesday, 4:15-7:15PM

Content: To be on the alert implies not only foreboding in the face of danger, but also vigilance, an awakening of sorts, a warning even. Literature can be on the alert in all of those senses insofar as it is attentive to a “mal,” an affliction, that confronts language to its very limits. As we shall see, the poetry of the troubadours alerts us to the presence of “something” that, as Lacan pointed out, is not an object, but something else entirely and much more terrifying, which turns poetry into an infinite address and romances into an endless quest. Elevated through idealization or degraded into comical obscenity, this “something” can also make its presence felt as an enigmatic sickness, a devastating malaise at the core of the literary space.  As it attends to these afflictions, literature can become a strange wake-up call that breaks through everyday slumber to transmit what Julien Gracq called “something like a far-away alarm.”

Texts:
-- Troubadours (selections)
-- Guillaume de Lorris: Le roman de la rose
-- Chrétien de Troyes: Perceval ou le Conte du Graal
-- Villon (selections)
-- Robert Desnos: A la mystérieuse
-- Gracq: Le rivage des syrtes
-- Lacan: Ethique de la psychanalyse (selections)

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FREN 775 - Fictions of photography
Cross-listed with CPLT 751
Elissa Marder - Tuesday 1:00-4:00PM

Content:  Since its invention in 1839, photography has been a source of fascination, reflection, inspiration, and revulsion for many nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers and writers.  Because the medium of photography has the capacity to record images that are not available to the naked eye and to preserve and repeat them indefinitely, photography has given rise to many powerful written reflections about mourning, memory, time, history, fantasy, ghosts, death, and desire.  In this course, we will examine a selection of literary, philosophical, and theoretical texts to help us think about how photographic writing affects our understanding of images, events, the imagination, and history.  Readings may include literary works by: Baudelaire, Balzac, Champfleury, Maupassant, Nadar, Edgar Allan Poe, Rodenbach, Villiers de L’Isle Adam, Proust, Cixous, and Marguerite Duras and philosophical/critical works by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Jacques Derrida.

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FREN 780 - Literary Theories
Cross-listed with CPLT 750R
Geoffrey Bennington - Thursday 1:00-4:00PM

Content:  The course explores some of the ways in which an influential way of thinking about language has affected ways of thinking about literature. After investigating the main tenets of structuralist theory, as derived from Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale, we shall go on to see how the internal logic of structuralism led to the rather different positions often referred to as ‘post-structuralism’ and/or ‘post-modernism’, and to a questioning of the position of theory itself.

Spring 2019

FREN 775 - Revolutionary Perversions: Literature, Sexuality, Anachrony
Cross-listed with CPLT 751 and PSP 789
Elissa Marder - Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content:  In this course, we shall examine how representations of “non-normative” sexuality in several major nineteenth-century works relate to the problem of representing history in the aftermath of the French revolution.  Many of the most famous canonical literary texts written in French prior to 1871 include references to impotence, lesbianism, hysteria, cross dressing, bestiality, masturbation and prostitution in the context of narratives that re-write or un-write the legacy of the French revolution. By focusing on the literary treatment of these ‘perverse’ forms of sexuality, we shall attempt to see how they encourage us to think differently about questions of historical transmission, language, gender, and sovereignty. Possible texts include: La Philosophie dans le boudoir (Sade), René (Chateaubriand), Ourika, Mme de Duras, Armance (Stendhal), Le Père Goriot and La Fille aux yeux d’or (Balzac), L’Education sentimentale (Flaubert), “Le Secret de l’Echafaud” (Villiers de L’Isle-Adam), and selections from Baudelaire’s prose poems. Critical readings may include works by Freud, Marx, Benjamin, Blanchot, Daniel Arasse, Derrida, and others. 

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FREN 775 - Drives: Between Psychoanalysis and Literature
Cross-listed with PSP 789
Claire Nouvet - Wednesdays 4:15-7:15PM

Content: The course will address the notion of “drive” as it imposes itself, if somewhat enigmatically, in two distinct fields: psychoanalysis and literature. While claiming that drive theory is “indispensable,” Freud acknowledged that he only “painfully felt” his way toward the drives and their vicissitudes. We will trace some of the steps of this painstaking analysis (infantile sexuality, the “death drive,” his analysis of war) before turning to literature and to the “drive” that it also sometimes invokes. If writing responds to a drive, what then drives writing? What does writing make of/with this drive? And what difference does it make?  The course will be taught in English.

Texts:
- Sigmund Freud: 
Drives and Their Vicissitudes
Three Essays on Sexuality
Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Thoughts for the Times on War and Death
- Guillaume Apollinaire: Calligrammes
- Georges Bataille: Le bleu du ciel
- Roger Caillois: Le mythe et l’homme [selections]
- Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Casse-pipe suivi du Carnet du cuirassier Destouches
- Salvador Dalí:   
Oui 2 [selections]
Le mythe tragique de l’Angélus de Millet

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FREN 780 - Humanisme et antihumanisme (16e et 17e siècles)
Chad Córdova - Thursdays 1:00-4:00PM

Description: L’antihumanisme philosophique ou “théorique” français est connu comme un phénomène récent, voire contemporain: né autour de l’après-guerre avant de devenir une force et une mode de l’université surtout anglophone. Or, les formes de la pensée antihumaniste ont une histoire – sinon une préfiguration – dans certains courants (anti-)philosophiques datant des deux premiers siècles qui ont vu l’émergence de l’humanisme culturel et philosophique. Ce séminaire étudiera quelques aspects de ces courants au 16e et au 17e siècles, et posera la question de leur survie, ou variation, au 20e siècle. .

Avec des textes de: Aristote; Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; Machiavel; Marguerite de Navarre; Montaigne; Rabelais; Descartes; Élisabeth de Bohème; Pascal; Freud; Sartre; Lévi-Strauss; Lacan; et/ou d’autres. 

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FREN 780 - Literature and Justice: Writers on Trial
Cross-listed with CPLT 780
Shoshana Felman - Mondays 4:00-7:00PM

Content: History has put on trial a series of creative 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 (similarly charismatic and ironically subversive) Oscar Wilde is condemned by the English for his homosexuality, as well as for his provocative artistic style. In France, the most outstanding writers-- Flaubert and Baudelaire-- are both indicted as criminals for their first (shockingly innovative) literary works; Emile Zola is condemned for defending a Jew against the state which has convicted him, flees from France to England to escape imprisonment.

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 legal dramas, this course will ask: Why are literary writers, artists and philosophers, repetitively put on trial, and how in turn do they challenge culture and society? What is the role of art and literature as political actors in the struggles over ethics, and the struggles over meaning?

Texts:Texts selected among: Plato’s Dialogues; Molière’s plays; Shakespeare’s plays; Oscar Wilde (Plays, Autobiography, Critical writings); Gustave Flaubert (novels, letters); Charles Baudelaire (poems, criticism, theory of art); Emile Zola (political writings); Herman Melville (novellas); Bertolt Brecht (plays)); Hannah Arendt (Essays, Interviews); Spinoza (Ethics); Sigmund Freud (Psychoanalytic Writings); Jacques Lacan (psychoanalytic seminar); E. M. Forster (novel); Virginia Woolf (novel); Franz Kafka (short stories, parables).

Particulars: Regular attendance; Two short papers distributed throughout the course of the semester; Brief oral presentations; Intensive weekly reading assignment (weekly one-page reading reports) and active preparation of texts for class discussion; ongoing participation.
***NOTE: Advanced undergraduates can take the class (by permission).

Fall 2018

FREN 505 - Problems in Foreign Language Teaching
Cross-listed with LING 505
Lilia Coropceanu - Mondays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: This course presents an overview of current second language learning theories, a description and evaluation of existing second language teaching methods, and a discussion of major topics of instructional concern within the foreign language profession. The course goal is to provide experiences that facilitate the development of professional foreign language educators through practical classroom implementation and evaluation of research-based foreign language teaching practices.

Texts: Required (to be purchased) Kate W Paesani, Heather Willis Allen, Beatrice Dupuy, “A Multiliteracies Framework for Collegiate Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practice in Second Language Classroom Instruction”. Prentice Hall; 1 edition (January 22, 2015).  ISBN: 978-0205954049  

Assessment: Class participation and preparation (10%); Classroom observation reports (20%, 30% for undergraduates); Lesson plans, classroom demonstrations, and self-evaluations (20%, 30% for undergraduates); Self-reflective journal (20%, not required for undergraduates); Evaluation of a professional presentation (10%); FL teaching philosophy (20%)

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FREN 770 - Water Graves
Cross-listed with CPLT 751
Valérie Loichot - Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Martinican philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant writes: “The cemeteries of countries and cities of creolization, and, generally, of powerful hurricanes --Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, New Orleans, Cartagena-- grow into glittering small towns like white beaches, whose avenues open onto fleeting illuminations rather than onto the mute space of a dull hereafter.”
The seminar focuses on the shared vulnerability -ecological, societal, cultural- of sites of creolization in the Greater Caribbean. Particularly, it explores how poets, fiction writers, and mixed-media artists represent the vulnerability of land and people in response to the lack of official rituals granted to the drowned. In addition to figuring death by drowning in the aftermath of slavery and “natural” and human-made catastrophes, their aesthetic creations serve as memorials, dirges, tombstones, and even literal supports for the regrowth of life underwater. Water, as we will see, is both a place of disconnection (island) and relation (archipelago), as well as an abyss and conduit between the dead and the living. 

Course Material: In addition to the books to be purchased (below) readings will include selections from texts by Derek Walcott (The star Apple Kingdom), Edouard Glissant (Poétique de la Relation/ Poetics of Relation), Gabriel García Márquez (“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”), C.L.R. James (The Black Jacobins), Tiphanie Yanique (How to Escape from a Leper Colony), Judith Butler (Frames of War), Saidiya Hartman (Lose your mother), Christina Sharpe (In the Wake), Colin (Joan) Dayan (Haiti, History, and the Gods), Joseph Roach (Cities of the Dead), Ian Baucom (Specters of the Atlantic). We will also discuss creations by artists EPaul Julien, Radclife Bailey, Beyoncé (Lemonade), Patricia Donatien, Laurent Valère, Édouard Duval-Carrié, and Jason deCaires Taylor.

Required Books (to be Purchased with indicated ISBN only)

  • Aimé Césaire. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. 978-0819564528 or Cahier d’un retour au pays natal for students reading in French. 978-2708704206
  • Edwidge Danticat. Claire of the Sea Light. 978-0307472274
  • Fabienne Kanor. Humus. 978-2070780853 (French edition)
  • NourbeSe Philip. Zong! 978-0819571694

Particulars: Sustained participation (including involvement in seminar discussions, occasional short Canvas responses and occasional mini-interventions on a concept or text), a twenty-minute oral presentation, and a 12-page final research paper plus annotated bibliography. The class is taught in English. Students proficient in French will be encouraged to read the French original texts if appropriate.

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FREN 780 - Illness Narratives
Vincent Bruyère - Wednesdays 1:00 - 4:00PM

Content: Or, Life Writing in the Age of Biomedicine. This seminar seeks to assess both the emergence of illness narrative as genre, as archive, as mode of expression, as a form of ethics of the self, and the reliance of health humanities on illness narratives. The focus on biomedicine and its impact on life writing will give us an opportunity to revisit the history of bioethics, biography and autobiography, from devotional practices to Montaigne, from early modern anatomical writings to contemporary diagnostic practices.  The reading list includes: Jean-Luc Nancy, L’intrus; Jean-Dominique Bauby, Le scaphandre et le papillon; Agnès Varda, Cléo de 5 à 7Montaigne, Essais (II. 6); Georges Didi-Huberman, “Ex-Voto”; Lauren Berlant, “Slow Death”; Arthur Kleinman, Illness Narratives; Ovid, Metamorphoses; Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Catherine Walby, The Visible Human Project, Annemarie Mol, The Body Multiple; Catherine Malabou, The Ontology of the Accident; and Michel Foucault, “The Life of Infamous Men.”  

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FREN 785 - Configuring the East after Orientalism
Subha Xavier - Thursdays 1:00 - 4:00PM

Content: At least since the 19th century, Western philosophical and literary traditions have imagined Asia as a mystical other, a distant land of spiritual secrets buried in the indecipherability of its ancient scripts and impenetrable sounds. At the same time, China and the Asian continent have often been a source of desire and longing that has taken political and artistic forms in the French literary text.

This course will examine representations of the East in late 19th and 20th century French literature alongside migrant texts authored by Chinese and Vietnamese writers and filmmakers. Through the lens of Edward Said’s seminal work, students will revist the writings of Victor Hugo, Victor Segalen, Henri Michaux and Marguerite Duras, in search of the Asian imaginaries that inhabit their texts. We will also explore the migrant works of contemporary Sino-French and Vietnamese-French authors Ying Chen, Shan Sa, Kim Thuy, Dai Sijie, Matt Huyhn and Thi be Ngyuyen, to uncover their poetic renditions of the relationship between East and West, as expressed through the philosophical traditions, languages and cultures that underpin their work, as well as the experience of migration that defines them.

Spring 2018

FREN 775 - Literature on the Alert
Cross-listed with CPLT 789
Claire Nouvet - Mondays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: To be on the alert implies not only foreboding in the face of danger, but also vigilance, an awakening of sorts, a warning even. Literature can be on the alert in all of those senses insofar as it is attentive to a “mal,” an affliction that confronts language to its very limits. As we shall see, the poetry of the troubadours alerts us to the presence of “something” that, as Lacan pointed out, is not an object, but something else entirely and much more terrifying, which turns poetry into an infinite address and romance into an endless quest. Elevated through idealization or degraded into comical obscenity, this “something” can also make its presence felt as an enigmatic sickness, a devastating malaise at the core of the literary and social space.  As it attends to these afflictions, literature can become a strange wake-up call that breaks through everyday slumber to transmit what Julien Gracq called “something like a far-away alarm.”

Texts:
-- Troubadours [selections]
-- Tristan et Iseut: Les poèmes français, la saga norroise
-- Blanchot: “Orphée, Don Juan, Tristan” in L’entretien infini
-- Guillaume de Lorris: Le roman de la rose
-- Chrétien de Troyes: Perceval ou le Conte du Graal
-- Barbey d’Aurevilly:“Le rideau cramoisi” in Les diaboliques
-- Gracq: Le rivage des syrtes
-- Lacan: Ethique de la psychanalyse (selections)

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FREN 780 - Politics in Deconstruction
Cross-listed with CPLT 751 and PHIL 789
Geoffrey Bennington - Thursdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content:: Taking its lead from some of Derrida's later work, this course will follow the twin threads of sovereignty and democracy through some of the great texts of political philosophy in the Western tradition.  We shall attempt to understand why both of these notions, albeit in rather different ways, pose such problems for that tradition, and give rise to all manner of complications and paradoxes, which are however (or so I shall argue) definitive of the conceptual space of the political as such.  We shall wonder why almost all political philosophies are enamored of sovereignty, while almost none has anything very good to say about democracy.  We shall consider the possibility of a non-trivial affinity among the political, the rhetorical, the literary and the animal in their constant tendency to exceed conceptual grasp, and also compare our deconstructive approach to these political questions with some other modern and postmodern theories.

Texts: Classical authors to be discussed may include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Bodin, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Schmitt; more recent theorists to be considered alongside Derrida may include Agamben, Badiou, Foucault, Hardt and Negri, Lyotard, Mouffe and Rancière.

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FREN 785 - Haïti et Martinique: Écritures de la terre
Max: 18
Valérie Loichot - Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: S’il est un paradoxe, c’est d’aimer sa terre quand on y a été déporté. Ce séminaire envisagera, à travers les exemples de la Martinique et d’Haïti, l’écriture de la terre en littérature et philosophie. Nous y étudierons les stratégies de réappropriation de la terre après l’économie de la Plantation, l’ambivalence de la terre nourricière et cannibale, sa valeur mémorielle et poétique, son caractère profane et sacré, ses personnifications et sexualisations. Nous nous demanderons également, dans le sillage de la pensée du désastre de Blanchot, ce qu’il advient du texte quand la terre écrit elle-même par son tremblement. En effet, comment et quoi écrire après Goudougoudou ? Qu’advient-il de l’histoire quand la Révolution haïtienne est assimilée à une catastrophe naturelle ? Qu’est-ce que la production littéraire apporte à la pensée et aux pratiques écologiques ? Comment l’écriture de la terre des « petits pays » nourrit-elle la pensée de la planète Terre ?

Textes principaux:
Aimé Césaire. Cahier d’un retour au pays natal. ISBN 978-2708704206
Laurent Dubois. Haiti : The Aftershocks of History. ISBN 978-0805093353
Édouard Glissant. Poétique de la Relation. ISBN 978-2070720255
Philosophie de la Relation. ISBN 2070125424
Suzanne Roussi Césaire. Le Grand camouflage. ISBN 978-2021289275
Yannick Lahens. Failles. ISBN 978-2848050904
Jacques Roumain. Gouverneurs de la rosée. ISBN 978-2843046636

Particulars
One 12-page research paper, one oral presentation, active class participation, three 400-word response papers.

The seminar will be conducted in French. Students from other graduate programs who have a good reading knowledge and communication skills in French are encouraged to enroll and will be able to deliver their presentation and write their paper in English.

Fall 2017

FREN 505 - Problems in Foreign Language Teaching
Cross-listed with LING 505
Lilia Coropceanu - Mondays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: This course presents an overview of current second language learning theories, a description and evaluation of existing second language teaching methods, and a discussion of major topics of instructional concern within the foreign language profession. The course goal is to provide experiences that facilitate the development of professional foreign language educators through practical classroom implementation and evaluation of research-based foreign language teaching practices.

Texts: Required (to be purchased) Kate W Paesani, Heather Willis Allen, Beatrice Dupuy, “A Multiliteracies Framework for Collegiate Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practice in Second Language Classroom Instruction”. Prentice Hall; 1 edition (January 22, 2015).  ISBN: 978-0205954049  

Assessment: Class participation and preparation (10%); Classroom observation reports (20%, 30% for undergraduates); Lesson plans, classroom demonstrations, and self-evaluations (20%, 30% for undergraduates); Self-reflective journal (20%, not required for undergraduates); Evaluation of a professional presentation (10%); FL teaching philosophy (20%)

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FREN 775 - Primal Scenes: Literature and Psychoanalysis
Cross-listed with CPLT 751
Elissa Marder - Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content::  In this course, we shall examine how psychoanalysis both establishes and challenges the boundaries of the human. Beginning with a close reading of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, we shall explore how Freud’s derives the specificity of the human unconscious (via the complex operations of the dream-work) by turning to literary language, theatrical spaces and events, and technological operations. Throughout the course, we will focus on the Freudian conception of the ‘primal scene’ as a way of examining how psychoanalytic theory challenges traditional conceptions of temporality, repetition, sexuality and desire, writing, mourning, cruelty, and the status of the historical event

Texts may include: The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud); Freud’s case histories (including ‘Dora,’ ‘The Wolf-Man’, ‘The Rat-Man,’ ‘Little Hans’, and ‘Schreber’) Phèdre (Racine); Le Ravissment de Lol V. Stein (Duras); Moderato cantabile (Duras); La Chambre claire (Barthes); Selections from: Combray and A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (Proust); La Bête humaine (Zola); To the Lighthouse (Woolf) Muriel (dir. Alain Resnais).  Additional readings may include works by: Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Avital Ronell, Samuel Weber, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, Hélène Cixous, & Sarah Kofman.

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FREN 780 - Literary Theories
Cross-listed with CPLT 750R
Geoffrey Bennington - Thursdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content:The course explores some of the ways in which an influential way of thinking about language has affected ways of thinking about literature. After investigating the main tenets of structuralist theory, as derived from Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale, we shall go on to see how the internal logic of structuralism led to the rather different positions often referred to as ‘post-structuralism’ and/or ‘post-modernism’, and to a questioning of the position of theory itself.

Spring 2017

FREN 550 - Rousseau
Cross-listed with CPLT 752; PHIL 525
Geoffrey Bennington - Thursdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Plus qu’un autre, peut-être, c’est Jean-Jacques Rousseau qui aura signé le dix-huitième siècle français.  Que ce soit en matière de philosophie politique, de théorie pédagogique, d’écriture littéraire ou autobiographique, tout change là où Rousseau écrit et signe de son nom.  Nous essayerons, à travers la lecture de grands textes en tous genres, de mieux cerner la place et les enjeux de cette signature qui se veut unique, garant présumé d’une vérité qui se révélera de plus en plus fabuleuse.

Texts: Les Confessions; Emile, ou de l’éducation; Discours sur l’origine de l‘inégalité; Du Contrat socia; Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire; Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques.

Particulars: The course will be taught in French

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FREN 770R - Theories of Subjectivity and Representation
Cross-listed with CPLT 752R, PHIL 789R, AHIST 769R
Dalia Judovitz - Tuesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Reflecting on the burden of the Cartesian legacy to modernity, Maurice Merleau-Ponty noted that “there are some ideas that make it impossible to return to a time prior to their existence, even and especially if we moved beyond them, and subjectivity is one of them.” This course will examine the elaboration of rational consciousness in Descartes as a foundational moment in the development of modern metaphysics. At issue will be the radical shift from notions of self (notably as elaborated in Montaigne) to subject, that will inaugurate not just a new understanding of truth but a new way of being and picturing the world. The relation of subjectivity to representation, the mind-body dualism, the analogy of the body to a machine, the question of technology and ideas about art will be at issue along with attendant philosophical, theoretical, literary and artistic critiques by Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georges Canguilhem, Emile Benveniste, Michel Foucault, Louis Marin, Jean-François Lyotard, etc.

Texts: Montaigne, “Of Experience,” and “On Some Verses of Virgil” from the Essays; Descartes, Discourse on Method; Heidegger, “The Age of the World Picture,” and “The Question of Technology;” Merleau-Ponty, “The Cogito,” and “The Body as Expression and Speech” from The Phenomenology of Perception; Benveniste, “Of Subjectivity in Language;” Georges Canguilhem, “Machine and Organism;” Foucault, The Order of Things (selections); Foucault, “Technologies of the Self; Marin, On Representation (selections)” and multiple pictorial references.  

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FREN 770S - Body History
Vincent Bruyère - Mondays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: This seminar proposes an introduction to the history of the body with a particular focus on clinical medicine, palliative care, and biography. The objective is to equip students with a frame of reference and a critical vocabulary that will allow them to develop research projects situated at the intersection of health sciences and literary studies. Taught in English.

Texts: Mauss, “Technics of the Body”; De Certeau, “The Unnamable”; Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic; Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Montaigne, “De l’exercitation”; Waldby, The Visible Human Project; Mol, The Body Multiple; Duden, The Woman Beneath the Skin; Walker-Bynum, Christian Materiality; Carlino, Books of the Body; King, Dying at Grace; Montross, Body of Work. Fournier and Minot, Les Mots des derniers soins; Armstrong, “The Temporal Body.”

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FREN 770 - Water Graves
Cross-listed with ENG 789R, CPLT 751
Valérie Loichot - Wednesdays 1:00-4:00PM

Content: Martinican philosopher and poet Edouard Glissant writes: “The cemeteries of countries and cities of creolization, and, generally, of powerful hurricanes --Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti, New Orleans, Cartagena-- grow into glittering small towns like white beaches, whose avenues open onto fleeting illuminations rather than onto the mute space of a dull hereafter.”

The seminar focuses on the shared vulnerability -ecological, societal, cultural- of sites of creolization in the Caribbean and in the US South. Particularly, it explores how poets, fiction writers, performer and mixed-media artists represent the vulnerability of land and people in response to the lack of official rituals granted to the drowned. In addition to figuring death by drowning in the aftermath of slavery and “natural” and human-made catastrophes, their aesthetic creations serve as memorials, dirges, tombstones, and even literal supports for the regrowth of life underwater. Water, as we will see, is both a place of disconnection (island) and relation (archipelago), as well as an abyss and conduit between the dead and the living.
Hurricane Katrina, which revealed to the world the coincidence of natural and technological vulnerability, poverty, and racial inequality, will serve as a privileged platform to discuss the historically related event of the Middle Passage and the states of ecological and social frailty of our 21st century.

Course Material: In addition to the books to be purchased, readings will include selections from texts by Derek Walcott (The star Apple Kingdom), Édouard Glissant (Poetics of Relation and Overseer’s Cabin), C.L.R. James (The Black Jacobins), George Washington Cable (“Belles Demoiselles Plantation”), William Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom!), Longfellow (“The Slave in the Dismal Swamp”), Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard) for poetry, fiction, and essays; Judith Butler (Frames of War), Colin Dayan (The Law Is a White Dog), Joseph Roach (Cities of the Dead), Ian Baucom (Specters of the Atlantic), Tanya Shield’s (Bodies and Bones), Alexander Weheliye (Habeas Viscus), Vincent Brown (The Reaper’s Garden) for theory. We will also discuss creations by artists Radcliffe Bailey, EPaul Julien, Eric Waters, Kara Walker, and Beyoncé (US); Fabienne Kanor, Patricia Donatien-Yssa, and Laurent Valère (Martinique); Édouard Duval-Carrié and Gabrielle Civil (Haiti); and Jason deCaires Taylor (Guyana).

Required Books (to be Purchased with indicated ISBN only)

  • Aimé Césaire. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. 978-0819564528 or Cahier d’un retour au pays natal for students reading in French. 978-2708704206
  • Edwidge Danticat. Farming of Bones. 978-1616953492
  • NourbeSe Philip. Zong! 978-0819571694
  • Jesmyn Ward. Salvage the Bones. 978-1608196265

Particulars: Sustained participation, 3 short response papers, oral presentation, and research paper with annotated bibliography.

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FREN 780 - Literature and Justice: Writers on Trial
Cross-listed with CPLT 751
Shoshana Felman - Mondays 4:00-7:00PM

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, Flaubert and Baudelaire are both indicted as criminals for their first, innovative literary works; 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. Different forms of trial are instigated by religious institutions, as well as by psychoanalytic ones. Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, compares his expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association, with a religious “excommunication”-- for charges of nonorthodoxy and heresy (compare Luther, Spinoza). 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 challenge culture and society and reflect their crises? What is the role of literature as a political actor in the struggles over ethics, and the struggles over meaning? How does literature become the writing of a destiny, what can be called a life testimony or Life-Writing?

Texts: Texts selected among: Plato’s Dialogues; Molière’s plays; Shakespeare’s plays; Oscar Wilde (Plays, Autobiography, Critical writings); Gustave Flaubert (novels, letters); Charles Baudelaire (poems, criticism, theory of art); Emile Zola (political writings); Herman Melville (novellas); Bertolt Brecht (plays)); Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem, Interviews); Spinoza (Ethics); Sigmund Freud (Psychoanalytic Writings); Jacques Lacan (psychoanalytic seminar); E. M. Forster (novel); Virginia Woolf (novel); Franz Kafka (short stories, parables).

Particulars: Regular attendance; Two short papers distributed throughout the course of the semester; Brief oral presentations; Intensive weekly reading (weekly one-page reading reports) and active preparation of texts for class discussion; ongoing participation.