French and Italian | Reading & Expression in French
F300 | 7440 | 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, a
presentation, a final exam, and class participation.