French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 9601 | Gray, Margaret


Topic: La condition humaine.  An introduction to four genres in
French literature (poetry, theatre, novel and short story), this
course also provides sustained exercise in literary analysis and
techniques of close reading, as well as seeking to further
fundamental skills in French. Our varied texts have in common the
effort to communicate diverse aspects of the human condition, with
its discoveries, its dilemmas, its raptures and disappointments.

We will begin with love poems from the Renaissance (16th century),
Romantic (19th), Symbolist (late 19th) and modern (20th century)
eras, appreciating the evolution of the love lyric as we proceed.
Our play, Jean Anouilh’s Le bal des voleurs, opens the love
theme to probing questions of social class in a delightful mix of
bumbling thieves, a rich and canny dowager with eligible nieces,
true love and personal honor across social and economic differences.
The coming-of-age novel L’enfant noir by Camara Laye,
inspired by his childhood and youth in the West African nation of
Guinea, depicts such feelings as love for the mother, admiration for
the father, first love, desire for independence and impatience with
one’s own culture. We will follow the narrator’s experience of
school days, family visits, rituals of growing up, departure from
home, first exposure to death and loss, hard work and success. We
will conclude with a selection of twentieth-century short stories
exploring moral choice, vision and ambiguity: Albert Camus’s «
L’hôte ,» Jean-Louis Curtis’s « Le coffret,» and Henri Thomas’s «
Labarque. »

The final grade will be based on active class participation (10%),
an « explication de texte » (15%), a midterm (20%), a 5-page paper
(25%), and a final exam (30%). Prerequisite is F250, F255, or F265.
F300 fulfills A & H requirement. Conducted in French.