French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 30616 | Bryson, Devin

This course introduces students to some of the important texts,
movements, authors, and contexts of French literature from the
Middle Ages to the 20th century through a thematic focus on France
and its Others. While the literature of Africa, the Caribbean, Asia,
and Quebec written in French has brought this symbiotic relationship
to the fore of contemporary French studies, writers throughout the
history of French literature have examined French society, identity,
and culture by reflecting on or adopting the viewpoint of those
people who are connected to France, but are not necessarily part of
it. Our study of French literature through this conceptual framework
will develop reading and writing skills that will allow us to
consider the aesthetic, textual, historical, and cultural dimensions
of these texts.

We begin with the epic lyric poem La Chanson de Roland from the
Middle Ages, which explores issues of honor, loyalty, friendship,
and love in a time of war, as marauding invaders attack France.
Next, we read the epistolary novel Lettres d’une Péruvienne from the
18th century, in which the Other speaks for herself from a uniquely
feminine perspective. Our following stop is in the 19th century
where we read another female-gendered novel from the point-of-view
of a foreigner on French soil, this time a woman from Africa:
Ourika. We compare this text to the poems of Charles Baudelaire in
which he exoticizes and eroticizes the foreign woman. We end the
course by reading Aimé Césaire’s play Une tempête, which transposes
Shakespeare’s The Tempest onto the era of 20th century colonialism
and Caliban’s perspective.

The final grade will be calculated from two short papers, two
presentations, a final exam, and class participation. Prerequisite
is F250, F255, or F265. F300 fulfills A & H requirement.