Fall 2016 Courses

French 537: The Novel and Marriage

Prof. DeJean
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Historians have argued that early novels helped shape public opinion on many controversial issues.  And no subject was more often featured in novels than marriage.  In the course of the 18th and the 19th centuries, at a time when
marriage as an institution was being radically redefined, almost all the best known novels explored happy as well as unhappy unions, individuals who decided not to marry as well as those whose lives were destroyed by the institution. They showcased marriage in other words in ways certain to provoke debate. We will both survey the development of the modern novel from the late 17th to the early 20th century and study the treatment of marriage in some of the greatest novels of all time.  We will begin with novels from the French and English traditions, the national literatures in which the genre first took shape, in particular Laclos' DANGEROUS LIAISONS, Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Bronte's JANE EYRE, Flaubert's MADAME BOVERY.  We will then turn to works from the other European traditions such as Goethe's ELECTIVE AFFINITIES and Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA.  We will begin the course by discussing the novel often referred to as the first modern novel, THE PRINCESS DE CLEVES. This was also the first novel centered on an exploration of questions central to the debate about marriage for over two centuries—everything from the question of whether one should marry for  love or for social position to the question of adultery.
Each week, we will discuss the changing definitions of the word “marriage” in various European languages.  We will also discuss the laws governing marriage as a civil and as a religious institution were evolving in various European countries.
All readings will be in English.
Open to advanced undergraduates with the permission of the instructor.


French 560: Epistolary Fiction in a European Frame

Prof. Bowers
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The late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries together constitute the great age of epistolary fiction in Britain. The form proliferated starting in the 1660s, but by 1800 all-epistolary novels were becoming much less popular. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the use of letters as plot catalysts or framing devices continued to inform British fiction; and all-epistolary fiction has enjoyed a notable resurgence in recent years. This course will consider the strategies, functions, and complex appeal of British epistolary fiction in its Restoration and eighteenth-century heyday, focusing on the work of Aphra Behn, Elizabeth Singer Rowe, and Samuel Richardson, among others. We shall also consider Continental sources and analogues such as Guilleragues’s (attrib.) Lettres Portugaises, Graffigny’s Lettres d'une Péruvienne, Rousseau’s Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, and von La Roche’s Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim. Required texts and class discussions will be in English.

French 601: Language Teaching and Learning

Prof. McMahon
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This course is required of all Teaching Assistants in French, Italian, and Spanish in the second semester of their first year of teaching. It is designed to provide instructors with the necessary practical support to carry out their teaching responsibilities effectively, and builds on the practicum meetings held during the first semester. The course will also introduce students to various approaches to foreign language teaching as well as to current issues in second language acquisition. Students who have already had a similar course at another institution may be exempted upon consultation with the instructor.


French 630: Intro to Medieval Literature

Prof. Brownlee
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The Woman in Late Medieval French Literature

The seminar begins by looking at key portrayals of woman, love, marriage, and authority in Machaut’s Remede de Fortune. We then focus on the transformative corpus of Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) who, for the first time in the French tradition, combined living female experience with the authoritative identity of the professional author. We will follow the various strategies (both courtly and learnèd) by which Pizan established herself as a striking Parisian success at the beginning of the 15th century as we read and analyze a series of her key works, including Le Duc des vrais amants, La Cité des dames, and La Vision Christine. Special attention is given to questions of self-representation, mimesis, allegory, realism, and social context. We next consider Paris et Vienne’s stylized resolution of the (carefully staged) conflict between love and marriage, before looking carefully at the problematic representation of courtly love, woman, and chivalry in the Jehan de Saintré of Antoine de a Sale, the first historical novel in French.

The course is taught in English, with readings in dual language editions (Old French & Modern French Translations) for FREN, and English translations provided for COML.


French 640: Sex and Gender in the Renaissance

Prof. Francis
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At first glance, one might be inclined to think of the Renaissance as an era defined by normative masculinity and by pervasive misogyny. While there is some truth to this notion, it was also an era in which women began to express themselves and to challenge gendered discourse through the opportunities increasingly available to them in education and in printing. It was also an era in which the concept of ideal masculinity was malleable and prone to appropriation in poetic, political, or theological discourse. With this in mind, we will examine in this course how gender distinctions are reflected, appropriated, and challenged in the literature of sixteenth-century France. We will begin by examining the philosophical foundations and commonplaces of gendered discourse in the Renaissance, as well as how they are reflected in anatomical Blasons and Contre-blasons (poems praising or deprecating parts of the female body), the anti-erotic poems of Étienne Jodelle, and Rabelais’s Pantagruel. We will then consider the stakes of writing and publishing as a woman in sixteenth-century France, as well as the extent to which the female author is an editorial or printerly creation. Next, we will see how masculinity is defined and appropriated for poetic purposes by Ronsard, and for polemical purposes by Jean Lemaire de Belges and Agrippa d’Aubigné. Finally, we will focus on the Heptaméron of Marguerite de Navarre with a mind to showing how it challenges gendered perception of and prescriptions for male and female behavior. In addition to reading and discussing primary and secondary texts and producing a research paper, students will have the opportunity to consult original editions in the Kislak Center, as well as to present their work in a short conference that they will organize at the end of the semester.


French 684: French Novel of the Twentieth Century (1900-1950)

Prof. Prince
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A narratologically oriented study of the poetics of the modern French novel from the Nouveau Roman (e.g. Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, Simon) to the Nouvelle Ecole de Minuit and beyond (e.g. Toussaint, Houellebecq, and Michon).