Literary and Cultural Theory in France: Literary Worlds
This course introduces students to some of the most compelling questions, debates, and methodologies in literary and cultural studies today through an exploration of the relationship between literature and the world. We will read several major works of literary and cultural theory and criticism along with selected literary texts, thinking collaboratively about how they make sense of their world and imagine new ones. The following questions will guide our inquiry: what is the value of literature, and of reading? How and why should we read today? What work does literature do in the world, and what work do we do as readers and critics? Can literature (and other art forms) be political? If so, how? Do different literary genres and forms have different politics? What does literary form convey? What do different theoretical and critical approaches allow us to see, and what might they obscure? What are the ethics and politics of literary and cultural critique? How can theory and criticism help us think about literary worlds? How do literary texts think? How can literary thinking and worldmaking help us negotiate the problems that plague our world today, from inequality to climate change? Graduate students will have an additional objective: to think critically about the profession, the role and value of the humanities, and how to position themselves in the field. The course is open to both graduate and undergraduate students; it may be conducted in French or English, depending on enrollment. Prerequisites: FREN 300 and one of the following: FREN 255, 260, or 262.
Fall 2015, Fall 2020