French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 9598 | Bryson, Devin

Topic: France and its Others.  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.