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Fall 2017

French 205 - Studies in Cinema and Literature: Afropean Literature and Film
Prof. D. Thomas
Lecture, three hours. Discussion of selected topics in French and Francophone cinema and literature.

This course will explore the question of Afropeanism by considering the manner in which francophone African writers (from Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland) articulate and interrogate their complex relationship with European society, culture and history - in other words, how Africa has transformed/been transformed (in) Europe and in turn how categories such as Africanness have (re)defined Europeanness. Authors considered include Fatou Diome, In Koli Jean Bofane, Léonora Miano, Alain Mabanckou, Max Lobe, and Wilfried N'Sondé. Films and documentaries will include La noire de..., Noirs de France, Afrique sur Seine, Les princes noirs de Saint-Germain-des-Près, among others.

French 217 - 17th Century: Colonizer or Colonized? The Early Modern Foundations of France’s Colonial and Aesthetic Cultures
Prof. S. Melzer
Lecture, three hours. Readings in 17th-century literature studied within historical, cultural, and literary contexts. Offered in English. 

French literary history has been virtually silent about colonization in the early modern era. French 217 introduces this phenomenon into the heart of French culture, showing how colonization and culture emerged together, each shaping the other. This course unearths two different colonial stories, which mirror each other.

The first one re-conceptualizes elite France’s relationship to the Ancient World to reveal a “hidden” post-colonial dynamic; the second analyses France’s colonial relationship to the New World. The standard paradigm for French cultural history: 1) accords the Ancient World a privileged role, positioning the French as heirs of the Ancient World, aligned as an “US.”  2) the paradigm omits any mention of France’s relationship to the New World. This course explores how this traditional paradigm reveals only one half of the picture – and presents the missing half! The French elite had a much more antagonistic (and much less well-known) relationship with the Ancients. That relationship could anachronistically be called a postcolonial relationship. The Greeks and the Romans had colonized the ancestors to the French, the Gauls. This colonial past had searing consequences: it haunted many of the French elite who feared that they were the barbarian other to the Greeks and Romans. We will focus on the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns as a primary site where the ghosts of this problematic past surfaced. We will explore how the French elite identified both with and against the nation’s former colonizers, in a vexed tension.

The second story turns towards the New World in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. To colonize the Americas, the French borrowed the Roman colonial strategy as their model: assimilation. This strategy promoted intermarriages and mixed communities between the French and the Amerindians, urging them to form “one people and one blood,” as Louis XIV’s minister, Colbert, put it. Louis XIII and the Capuchin Church dramatized this ideal in 1613 when they brought several Tupinamba Amerindians from Brazil to Paris and transformed them from “savages” into civilized French, Catholics. The king and queen became their godparents. Then, in front of all of Paris, they were baptized and married to French girls. Yet, the nation’s politics of assimilation has become lost to the nation’s literary and cultural history.

This course weaves these two different colonial stories together since they mirrored each other. In the first history, elite France feared it was the colonized other since its ancestors the Gauls were “barbarians” colonized by the Romans. In the second, France was the colonizer seeking to assimilate the New World “barbarian.” We will study how elite France carved out its emerging cultural identity in a triangulated dynamic between both the New World and the Ancient World. 

French 495 - Teaching French at College Level
Prof. K. Jansma
Seminar, three hours; discussion, one hour. Designed for graduate students. Theory and practice of language teaching.


Sampling of graduate courses:

French 200 Contemporary French Theories
French 201 Literary Analysis
French 202 Cultural Studies
French 203 Contemporary Francophone Studies
French 204 Studies in Autobiography
French 205 Studies in Cinema and Literature
French 207 Studies in History of Ideas
French 208 Studies in Literary Criticism
French 209 Studies in Literary Genres
French 214 Problematics of Medieval language and Literature
French 215 Studies in the Middle Ages
French 216 Studies in the Renaissance and the Baroque
French 217 Studies in the 17th Century
French 218 Studies in the 18th Century
French 219 Studies in the 19th Century
French 220 Studies in the 20th Century
French M270 Seminar Literary Theory