French and Italian | Reading & Expression in French
F300 | 20944 | 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 read 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 back in 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. We will also read two short stories by Vercors,
including _Le Silence de la mer_, a text published clandestinely in
occupied France during WWII. Finally, we will finish with excerpts
from Atiq Rahimi’s recent novel _Syngue sabour_, which is set in
Afghanistan and depicts a wife tending to her unconscious husband, a
wounded jihadist.

The final grade for the course will be based on the following:
participation; daily assignments (primarily reading questions); two
short papers (1-2 pages); a third, longer paper (4 pages); and two
exams (midterm and final). Prerequisite: F250, F255, F265, or consent
of department. Conducted in French. Fulfills A & H requirement.