courses

French 220

Pirates of the Caribbean in Atlantic Literature

Whether as freebooters, buccaneers, corsairs, privateers, marauders, swashbucklers or sea rovers, pirates have long captured the Atlantic imagination. But why?  This course interrogates the concept of piracy from its earliest manifestations to our present day. We will focus primarily on the “golden age” of Atlantic piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries and its artistic re-imagining in the 19th and 20th centuries. After a brief study of the ancient roots of piracy, we analyze the lived experience of Caribbean pirate life through readings of first-person chronicles and travel accounts. We pay particular attention to the diverse and humble origins of these mariners: commoners, indentured servants, religious refugees, soldiers, and slaves. On the edge of empire, these men- (and women!-) turned-pirates radically challenged the emergent slave economy based on triangular commerce while simultaneously profiting from it. In the second part of the course, we explore the romantic re-imaginings of these real-life Caribbean Pirates  in 19th- and 20th-century literature from both sides of the Atlantic (Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America). We end with an analysis of piracy’s legacy in 21st-century popular culture, as well as a discussion of new forms of “piracy” (digital piracy, data theft, guerilla open access) as a challenge to the global economy.  Our corpus includes texts in English, as well as translations from French, Spanish, and Dutch.

French 300

Thinking Critically: Literature, Film, and Media in the French-Speaking World

This course focuses on the acquisition of analytical skills through close reading and textual analysis.  Here “text” is used in its broadest sense; students become familiar with and able to analyze a host of literary genres and types of texts, from novels and plays to political tracts, propaganda, paintings and film.  In addition to honing students’ analytical skills, this course is designed to introduce students to some of the key texts in French and Francophone literature and culture.

French 301

Society and Culture in the French-Speaking World

This course provides students with the necessary historical background and social and cultural context to analyze contemporary issues in the French-speaking world. Students study the appropriate historical and contextual framework in order to critically analyze contemporary issues. By completing a series of modules students become familiar with both the key historical events and the contemporary debates in the French-speaking world

French 488

Special Topics Seminar: Le Retour

A question that pervades 20th-century Francophone writing is one of belonging: within which country/ies, culture(s), and collective identity/ies does the writer situate him/herself? In the first part of this course we explore the theme of le retour—Francophone writers’ accounts of their homecoming after studying and living abroad in the metropole. In addition to close readings of these texts of retour, we explore the larger historical and cultural context of 20th-century Francophone Atlantic writing, interrogating notions of center-periphery, metropole-colony, abroad-home, exile-belonging.  The second part of the course is devoted to the design and development of students’ own research projects.

French 489

Senior Research Seminar

In this seminar students apply the research skills they acquired in French 488. Students prepare the critical apparatus for their project, complete the thesis, practice their formal oral presentation, and deliver a public presentation of their research project. There is intensive writing, peer editing, discussions of primary and secondary sources, as well as a number of oral presentations in class. All students in class engage in in-depth discussions and critiques of each other’s written and oral work. The course is required for students majoring in French.

Modern Languages and Literatures 531

Theory and Criticism

This course, designed for beginning graduate students or advanced undergraduates considering graduate studies, provides an introduction to major developments in critical theory from ancient to modern times.  The course examines a wide range of critical, philosophical and political approaches to the study of literature and culture, including Marxism, formalism, structuralism, post structuralism, postmodernism and feminism.  Readings include Kant, Hegel, Marx, Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Cixous, among others.

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