French and Italian | Reading & Expression in French
F300 | 7439 | 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.