French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 3432 | Vantine, Peter


Topic: De l’amour et de la guerre

This course is an introduction to four genres in French literature
(poetry, theater, novel, and short stories). The course will focus on
developing skills in literary analysis through close readings. In so
doing, students will also be working to improve their oral and
written skills in French. The texts studied will cover a wide range
of historical periods, but they are connected by their common
attempts to represent the highly intense experiences of love and war –
two seemingly opposing phenomena that are nevertheless frequently
linked in literature.

We will begin by reading a selection of both epic and lyrical poems
from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Our play will be
Corneille’s _Le Cid_, a 17th-century tragi-comédie that is a tangled
tale of young love, family honor, fatal duels and war. For our novel,
we will read Balzac’s 19th-century text _Le Colonel Chabert_, in
which a Napoleonic war hero who was left for dead on the battlefield
must engage in a kind of legal and social warfare in an attempt to
regain his identity upon returning to Paris, where his reappearance
is problematic for his wife, who has remarried into a position of
wealth and status that she is loath to lose. Finally, we will read
several late-19th and 20th-century short stories, including Vercor’s
_Le Silence de la mer_, a text published clandestinely in occupied
France during WWII.

The final grade for the course will be based on participation, an
explication de texte (3-4 pages), a second paper (4-5 pages), and two
exams. Taught in French. Prerequisite is F250, F255, or F265. F300
fulfils A & H requirement.