European Studies


French Studies

Spring Quarter (S18)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor
Emphasis/Category: French Studies, Early Modern (1450-1789)

This course will offer an overview of Early Modern French Literature, from the Renaissance of the 16th to the Enlightenment of the 18th century. We will read and discuss key passages from the works of classics such as Rabelais, Labé, Du Bellay, Montaigne, Molière, Racine, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire.

Reading, writing and discussions will be in French. The course material will be made available on Canvas at the beginning of the quarter.

Grading: short presentation and class participation (1/3 of the final grade), 2 short (about 2 pages each) papers (1/3 of the final grade each)

Days: TU TH  11:00-12:20 PM

Emphasis/Category: Modern Europe (1798-), French Studies

What is child's play and what becomes of it when the child grows up and enters the world of employment and unemployment? What is the relationship between creative writing and play? Acting and play? How does the idealization of these and other "creative" professions relate to the pain and frustration of the division of labor? What happens to play when it is professionalized, for example as it is in professional sports (not only baseball, basketball, etc, but also, more recently, "extreme" sports and e-sports)? What should be counted as unpaid work and how? Under what circumstances is unpaid work ok? What is the meaning of "free time"?

This course will explore these and other questions through readings in classic texts by Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bataille, Caillois, Leiris, Bifo, Adorno, and Arendt. These classics will be supplemented by short selections from major contemporary thinkers.

Days: MO WE  11:00-12:20 PM

Emphasis/Category: Modern Europe (1798-), French Studies

50 years after the legendary student revolts of May 1968 in Paris, which durably challenged the social and political order of the West, this course will offer the opportunity to revisit key thinkers of the 20th-century who have contributed to reshape the ways we imagine the world we live in. Focusing on France, which since the French Revolution of 1789 is a model for revolutionary ideas, we will begin with the famous “J’accuse” of the Dreyfus Affair in which the novelist Emile Zola risked his life to defend the innocence of a man against the political and military powers – and the overall specter of antisemitism – of his time. We will then pay special attention to post-war Europe and the world-wide influence of writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre – who redefined the political responsibilities of the intellectual, making him a major source of inspiration for many liberation movements, especially in a time of decolonization – as well as the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir, author of “The Second Sex”, the founding text of modern Women’s and Gender Studies. We will also take a closer look at the work of thinkers that continue to shape the debates in the Humanities and beyond, namely Michel Foucault’s notion of power, Pierre Bourdieu’s deconstruction of the mechanisms of domination at play in our modern societies and Jacques Rancière’s reimagining of the “people”.
This course will be taught entirely in English. The course material will be made available on Canvas at the beginning of the quarter.
Grading: short reading/writing assignments (20%), midterm (40%) and final (40%) exams

Days: TU TH  12:30-01:50 PM

Emphasis/Category: Modern Europe (1798-), French Studies

When the French destroyed their monarchy in the Revolution of 1789, they created a republic based on ideas of nationhood and citizenship specifically tied to France, its language and its people -- but with universal inspirations. Students will learn about the tumultuous century, from the reign of Napoleon to the eve of World War I, during which the French forged a nation based on republican principles. Fought over at home and imposed abroad in the French empire, these principles also inspired revolutionaries around the globe. We will study the dynamism of French culture and society that gave France an importance in world history disproportionate to its size. We will end the class by considering the ways in which contemporary developments (particularly the rise of Islam in Europe) have challenged the French republican model elaborated in the nineteenth century.

Topics include: nation building, empire, French universalism, secularism vs. religion in public life, class structures and class relations, the central role of Paris in political and cultural life, relations within the family and between genders, the birth of cinema.
Days: TU TH  02:00-03:20 PM