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Special Topics in French and Francophone Studies

Examines selected topics in French and francophone studies. Content varies by semester and instructor.

TuTh 12:30-1:45pm, Dey Hall 301, Prof. Sean Matharoo (

This course invites students to immerse themselves in the nouveau roman of post-war French literature through the senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. This approach might seem paradoxical at first, as the nouveau roman was an attempt at breaking with the traditional novel’s focus on psychological depth and moralism by aspiring toward impersonal objectivity achieved through the use of innovative formal techniques, such as meticulous attention given to detailing the external world and the fragmentation of narrative structure and time. Yet, we will study how the nouveau roman’s aspirations toward objectivity simply displace and rearrange the terms of the traditional novel by inviting readers to become active participants in making meaning by reflecting on their own sensorial experiences while reading. We will also consider synaesthesisa, or the migration of senses from one mode to another; the “sixth sense” of kinesthesia, the body awareness sense; and, some of the theoretical writings of the nouveaux romanciers. Authors studied include Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, and Marguerite Duras. Course taught in French.

MWF 12:20–1:10pm  Greenlaw Gameroom, Room 316, Prof. Sean Singh Matharoo (

Ce cours est consacré aux jeux. Nous explorerons les approches critiques des médias en portant une attention particulière aux technologies sous-jacentes à leur utilisation ainsi qu’aux théories de la médiation. Pour considérer la médiation et les techniques notre optique sera « le ludique ». Dans cette optique, nous placerons des théoriques critiques du jeu en relation avec la fiction audiovisuelle et la non-fiction dont les arguments rendent les questions de jeu explicites dans la forme et l’adresse, par exemple, Les jeux et les hommes de Roger Caillois et Zazie dans le métro de Louis Malle. Nous jouerons aussi aux jeux vidéo en langue française, plus particulièrement, A Plague Tale : Innocence et sa suite A Plague Tale : Requiem du studio français Asobo. Textes critiques incluent des écrits de Gilbert Simondon, de Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari, de Bernard Stiegler, de Michaël Crevoisier et de Mathieu Triclot. Course taught in French.

TuTh 3:30–4:45pm, Dey 203, Prof. Hassan Melehy (

Le roman philosophique: qu’est-ce que c’est? Une fiction écrite par un philosophe? Un livre philosophique déguisé? Une histoire amusante qui explore des idées sérieuses? En commençant par la philosophie radicale du XVIIIe siècle, à travers les grands changements sociaux du XIXe siècle, jusqu’à la littérature existentialiste et féministe, dans ce cours nous lirons des romans et nouvelles de Denis Diderot, Madame de Staël et Jean-Paul Sartre, parmi d’autres auteurs.

Cours prérequis recommandés: FREN260 ou 262, FREN300.

This course examines 19th-21st-century French-language literature and culture through the lens of the environmental humanities. The course will introduce students to the major concepts, questions, and debates of this interdisciplinary field, which combines literary, cultural, geographical, political, historical, anthropological, and philosophical modes of analysis. That foundation will inform our study of a series of primary texts from the French-speaking world, including novels, poetry, theater, films, artworks, graphic novels, philosophical texts, digital media, and installations. Throughout the course, we will consider questions of environmental justice, including how colonialism, capitalism, racism, and historical events have shaped who is most vulnerable to planetary warming and other crises. A series of other questions will guide our inquiry: how can literature and art help us reimagine the world, and our communities? How does the geological timescale of the Anthropocene change our approach to times and cultures that otherwise seem distant? How might literature and art help us envision new modes of connection and interconnection? How might reading and thinking in a second language help train our perception of climate and distributed agency? Our objective is not simply to see what the humanities can help us think, but also to see what humanistic inquiry can do in times of crisis. Course is conducted in French.

Instructional mode: remote-synchronous

The body moves across the landscape, works the land, sways to render art palpable, and pauses for respite. We will scrutinize the literary, artistic, and cultural productions of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Haiti in relationship to the body. This course asks students to consider the status and repercussions of a body in its socio-political context and mediated by theories of the body, as well as critical race theories. Our intervention would be incomplete without visual components and, as such, will incorporate still images and short films. Taught in French.
In this course, we will analyze the format and content of texts centering around childhood narratives and memoirs. Starting with the premise that playing is learning, we will examine stories that center around adventures and the lessons they bring to both characters and readers. These learning opportunities often present essential information that forms the individual’s identity as well as prepares them for the communities they are entering.

Course taught in French.

Requisites: Prerequisites, FREN 300 and one of the following: FREN 255260, or 262.
Repeat rules: May be repeated for credit; may be repeated in the same term for different topics; 9 total credits. 3 total completions.