The Humanities Center
at Miami University
Graduate Courses in French
MPC = Miami Plan Capstone course
MPT = Miami Plan Thematic Sequence course
- FRE 404/504 - The French Renaissance
- Study of major writers of prose and poetry in the French Renaissance, including Rabelais, Montaigne, Ronsard, and DuBellay.
- FRE 411/511 - French Civilization
- Historical evolution of French society, its art, architecture, institutions and philosophical outlook.
Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
- FRE 411D/511D - Intensive French Study in Dijon, France
- Students can earn 6-9 credit hours by studying in Dijon, a beautiful small city in Burgundy, France. The intense, 5-week program features small classes, fieldwork, and various excursions. Fulfills up to 1/3 of the French requirements for the major and 1/2 of the requirements for the minor.
- FRE 411W/511W - French Civilization
- Offered only in the Summer French Program in Dijon, France. Historical survey of various aspects of French culture with special emphasis on local Burgundian civilization.
Prerequisite: FRE 202 or equivalent.
- FRE 415/515 - Advanced Composition
- Required of all French majors in their senior year, this course, which provides instruction in advanced French composition, is designed to complement FRE 410.
Take concurrently with FRE 410.
- FRE 423/523 - Classical French Theatre of the 17th and 18th Centuries
- Analysis of major trends in comedy and tragedy in the French theatre of 17th and 18th centuries.
- FRE 431/531 - Studies in Contemporary French Thought in Translation
- Examination of major recent currents of French thought, such as existentialism, structuralism, and poststructuralism, with emphasis on their relation to the study of literary texts. Course content will vary.
Prerequisite: junior or senior standing or permission of instructor.
- FRE 442/542 - French Novel and 'Conte' of the 17th and 18th Centuries
- Readings in the prose fiction of Madame de LaFayette, Privost, Marivaux, Rousseau, Diderot, and Laclos.
- FRE 443/543 - French Literature and Society
- Introduction to the literature and society of Medieval France. Study of literary texts and works of art, and hands-on experience with medieval manuscripts and materials used to make them.
Conducted in French.
- FRE 444/544 - Seminar in Medieval French Studies
- Focuses on current criticism in the area of medieval French studies. Topics vary. Readings in French and English. Old French readings accompanied by modern French translations.
Conducted in French.
- FRE 451/551 - 19th Century Prose Fiction to 1850
- Novels of Stendhal, Balzac, and Hugo; short narratives of Nodier, Gautier, and Merimee.
- FRE 452/552 - The Romantic Movement in French Literature
- The development of romanticism in poetry and drama of France in the first half of the 19th century.
- FRE 453/553 - French Poetry from Baudelaire to Valery
- Aspects of modernism in the works of five major poets of 19th century and early 20th century: Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarme, Valery.
- FRE 454/554 - The French Realist and Naturalist Novel: Flaubert to Zola
- Study of theme and literary form in major French realist and naturalist writers of the second half of the 19th century.
- FRE 460/560 - Topics in French Cinema
- In-depth and concentrated study of French cinema. Focus on specific topics such as film's relation to society, its relation to the other arts and artistic movements, and its productive role as an object of philosophical thought. Topics may also include the work of particular directors, historical periods, and comparative social and aesthetic studies.
Taught in English translation.
Available in French for French majors and French graduate students.
Cross-listed with FST 460/560.
- FRE 462/562 - The 20th Century Novel: Contemporary Explorations Beyond Existentialism
- Study of the novel's most recent attempts to redefine itself. Texts include works by Ciline, Leiris, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Queneau, Sarraute.
- FRE 600 - Seminar in French Literature
- Intensive study of selected authors and critical perspectives. Recent offerings included:
600.A - Literature and Loss. Examines the relations between loss and writing, especially in literary texts. How do different works conceptualize, confront, and attempt to palliate the problems of loss? Texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Chateaubriand, Musset, Nerval, and Claude Simon, along with theoretical and historical writings by Abraham and Torok, Philippe Aries, Baudrilland, Guy Debord, Blanchot, Freud, Hegel, Heidegger, Lacan, Emmanuel Levinas.
600.B - Sociology of Culture. Strategies of domination and logics of "symbolic" power will be debated from both post-Marxist and philosophical perspectives. Readings include texts by Simone Weil, Pierre Bourdieu, and other sociologists from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
600.C - Early Modern Pathologies of Being. If the Renaissance may be understood as a period that witnessed the effervescence of humanism, the discovery of new worlds and technologies, and the invention of the modern self, nonetheless, it also bore witness to the disruption of the self in a world marked by the violence of civil war and monstrosities. In this course, we will study texts that represent the self as disturbed by experiences such as possession, melancholy, madness, witchcraft, and cannibalism. Many of these disruptions and interruptions of being would in contemporary theoretical language be termed as "pathological". Yet, what does it mean and is it even possible to discuss the representation of being in the early modern period as pathological? Through the lens of theoretical texts, we will investigate the implications of pathologizing these experiences that disrupt self-representation. Readings will include primary texts, contemporary Renaissance medical treatises, and theoretical readings by Certeau, Foucault, Kristeva, Lacan, Freud, and among others.
600.D - Envisioning French Colonialism. Que faire des images coloniales aujourd'hui? Notre object if principal sera de mieux comprendre la représentation visuelle des colonisés, mais aussi des colonisateurs, produite par les Français durant l'époque coloniale et après, avec une emphase particulière sur la culture populaire et la bande dessinée. Il s'agira donc principalement d'étudier des images d'une grande violence raciste et sexiste, qui ont gardé le pouvoir de blesser des individus et des groupes (les peuples anciennement colonisés; les femmes; etc.) et qui circulent toujours. Nous nous intéresserons au mouvement des images et des textes entre les différents domaines de la culture et de l'édition, et entre le passé et le présent. Certains concepts théoriques et termes clés traverseront le cours, par exemple, collectionner, l'archive, le voyeurisme, l'orientalisme, le lieu de mémoire, la nostalgie, et le regard critique. Chaque groupe de textes, ou presque, sera relié par les rapports suivants: des références communes (par ex., entre eux), un problème ou un débat théorique spécifique, un attachement à un événement historique ou à un phénomène précis de l'époque coloniale.
600.F - Early Modern Subjects. Travel and print culture were two radical agents of change in early modern Europe. The dynamic and diverse cultural landscape generated new ways of pondering – and a new kind of urgency – to the most basic of questions: "who am I." This seminar engages philosophical and literary enquiries into the nature of human subjectivity, with a commitment to understanding the specificity of pre-romantic modes of self-understanding. Primary texts, including readings by Montaigne, Descartes, Racine, Corneille, Guyon, Pascal, Molière, Lafayette, Châtelet, and Diderot, will be studied in tandem with a wide variety of critical interventions (Certeau, Farge, Grafton, Greenberg, Greenblatt, Jones & Stallybrass, Judovitz, Winnecott, Zemon Davis).
600.G - Madness and Subjectivity. Sebastian Brant's allegorical poem Das Narrenschiff [The Ship of Fools, 1494] was the best-selling book of sixteenth-century Europe. A manual that instructed its readers to avoid vice, Brant's poem featured portraits of fools whose erratic behavior functioned as a counter example of how an honest and virtuous individual should behave. The mad, who often signify the mind's vulnerability, emerged as a central trope in this and many other great works of literature of the period. Although more often associated with eccentric or anti-social behavior, the fool was also a sacred figure whose radical break with social convention granted them the rare freedom to speak their mind in a world where access to speech was restricted by class and gender.
The significance of madness as a literary trope during this period is indeed strange and worth pause. More often, when one thinks of the Renaissance or, what most scholars today describe as the vast expanse of the "early modern period" (roughly 1460-1789), it calls to mind the effervescence of European humanism, the discoveries of new worlds and technologies such as print culture and linear perspective, and the invention of modern notions of the self. Yet, the Renaissance world had a "darker side" and bore witness to tremendous horrors and violence that gave rise to a monstrous imagination.
Our task in this course will be to study texts that represent the self as disturbed by experiences related to what one might call madness. We will attempt to understand the nature of the mad's strange power over language.
How does their 'non-sense' challenge the ways in which knowledge is understood, transmitted, and interpreted? How does the freedom to speak that is often granted to the insane open up spaces of contestation in social, rhetorical, and epistemological systems? How and when did madness become associated with creative genius? To explore these questions, we will read works of literature that feature a range of heterogeneous treatments of insanity: from the genius' eccentricities to representations of paranoia, melancholy, criminality, narcissism, and insanity. Readings will include primary texts by Erasmus, Rabelais, Labé, Montaigne, Rousseau, Diderot, Descartes and also theoretical readings by Certeau.
600.J - Histoires amoureuses. "Je ne deviens moi-même ni lorsque je pense, doute ou imagine seulement, puisque d'autres peuvent penser mes pensées, qui d'ailleurs ne concernent le plus souvent pas moi, mais l'objet de mes intentionnalités; ni lorsque je veux, désire ou espère, car je ne sais jamais si j'y interviens en première personne ou seulement comme le masque qui cache (et que supportent) des pulsions, des passions et des besoins qui jouent en moi sans moi. Mais je deviens définitivement moi-même à chaque fois et aussi longtemps que, comme amant, je peux aimer le premier" (Jean-Luc Marion, Le phénomène érotique, p. 125).
Dans les années 30 du siècle dernier, Denis de Rougemont a décrit un amour qui selon lui, est non seulement caractéristique de la culture occidentale mais qui plus encore lui confère son identité unique et pathétique. C'est l'amour de la passion, l'éros à la fois charnel et mystique qui dépasse les limites du monde connu et nous ouvre, dans une souffrance infinie, au désir de l'autre. Ce cours retracera l'histoire de l'amour – et des amours – dans les lettres françaises, depuis le moyen âge de Tristan et Iseut jusqu'au visions tragiquement jubilatoires de Michel Houellebecq. Une histoire de l'amour non seulement dans le sens d'une évolution des différentes réactions face à l'expérience érotique, mais aussi dans le sens d'une histoire de l'Occident, et surtout de la littérature française, qui prend forme et sens dans l'érotisme, c'est-à-dire, l'histoire telle que l'amour l'a créée. L'étude, donc, d'une expérience fondamentale et définitoire qui se cache dans le mystère de sa simplicité même et qui n'aura jamais dit son dernier mot. En dehors des auteurs déjà cités, nous étudierons des trouvères médiévaux, Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, Molière, Mme de Lafayette, le marquis de Sade, des poètes romantiques, Stendhal, Kierkegaard, Apollinaire, Lacan, Kristeva, Levinas et Annie Ernaux, aussi bien qu'un film de Jean Cocteau. Mais nous prendrons aussi le temps d'apprécier ces textes selon leurs propres critères, en dehors de la question directrice du cours. Discussions, lectures et devoirs en français.
600.N - La bande dessinée. The field of bande dessinée is slowly expanding in the university setting, in many countries (the U.K., Canada, France, etc.), as is demonstrated, for example, by the recent and ongoing publication of monographs and journals on the medium. In this course we will begin with a survey of the history and development of bande dessinée. We will then examine a series of key texts and issues, from a variety of critical perspectives. Our core critical text will be Reading Bande dessinée: Critical Approaches to French-Language Comic Strip, by Ann Miller (2008).
600.P - Vision and Epistemology in Ancien Régime France. René Descartes is most commonly remembered as a philosopher, the author of the cogito that has so profoundly marked modern philosophical and literary notions of subjectivity. Descartes also devoted himself to the study optics, however. And, observation from Natural Philosophy's observation of the natural world; to the observation of different cultures and landscapes by travelers, traders and missionaries; to the observation of emotion that announces the emergence of the modern novel strongly marks this period when the culture of court life prepared to collide with the empiricism of the nascent Enlightenment. This seminar will study how 17th- and 18th-Century French literature imagined the relationship between vision and knowledge, from Descartes' Discours de la méthode to Lafayette's Princesse de Clèves, from Beaumarchais' revolutionary Mariage de Figaro to Marivaux's Jeu de l'amour et du hazard, from Rousseau's botany to Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's travelogues, and beyond. In addition to becoming familiar with a wide range of theoretical interventions, we will make use of regional resources such as Cincinnati's Lloyd Library to undertake original primary research.
600.R - Dilemmas of Realism in Film. How do we know what is real? What are the lenses that mediate, interpret, and interfere with the ways we perceive the world around us? In today's image saturated culture, we rarely question how images of the world control and organize our perception of reality. Like prose, cinema and photography bear the imprint of implicit links to reality and benefit from their association to the most privileged of our senses, vision. While seeing has historically been associated with a form of truth (eyewitness), cinema, in the hundred years since its invention, consistently disrupts the very realism of its appearance revealing film's vexed relationship to perception. In this seminar, we will investigate how filmmakers complicate and undermine cinematic realism as a way of questioning our own reliance on the truth value of visual images. This seminar will focus on the inherent dilemmas of cinematographic realism (especially the use of documentary style) in the films of Poetic Realism (Clair, Vigo, Renoir), the French New Wave (Truffaut, Godard, Resnais), and contemporary transnational cinema in French (Kieslowski, Haneke, Schnabel). Secondary critical readings to include works from Freud, Barthes, Benjamin, Metz, Bazin, Deleuze, and Rancière among others.
600.S - The Miniature and the Gigantic in Ancien Régime France. In his famous reflection on "[La] Disproportion de l'homme," Blaise Pascal directs his reader's gaze from the infinite expanses of the heavens to the infinitesimally minute "abîme" to be discovered within the body of a humble flea. Through this experience/experiment of narrative looking, the reader is meant to reimagine the human's place in the universe. This seminar will trace conceptions and representations of the very small and the very large made possible by the invention and popularization of natural philosophy and optical instruments such as microscopes and telescopes. Along with literary and philosophical depictions of miniature and gigantic beings, including Cyrano de Bergerac's Voyage dans la lune (1657), Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1660), Jonathan Swifts's Gulliver's Travels (1726, 1735), Denis Diderot's Bijoux indiscrets (1748), and Voltaire's Micromégas (1752), we will study the implications of size and scope in the generic innovations of this period's burgeoning literary marketplace (sonnets and heroic poems, maximes and the roman fleuve, fairy tales and encyclopedia). We will observe the simultaneous popularization of small and large in plastic and decorative arts as we study architectural follies and petites maisons next to Versailles, portrait miniatures along with large-scale history paintings, tiny contraband books and royally subventioned super-folios. One of our chief foci throughout will be the relationship between disproportionate size and political representation and critique. The course will end with an examination of gigantic and minute details in French revolutionary discourse and pageantry.
Course conducted in French.
Graduate students in other departments with strong reading ability are encouraged to contact me to discuss accommodations.
600.T - Statelessness & the Human Condition. Rooted in her own experience as a stateless refugee in France, Hannah Arendt famously defined "the right to have rights" as the most fundamental human right of all. Yet, as Arendt saw clearly, currently only states are in the — imperfect — position to guarantee such a fundamental human right, and the human status of stateless persons is often terrifyingly in question. We will read 20th-century texts about, and often written "out of," the experience of human vulnerability in various states of statelessness — for example, the experience of stateless refugees in France in the 1930s, or of French nationals violently removed from the protection of the state, or made literally stateless. We will deal extensively with Jewish refugees in France and its colonies during the Holocaust, and the after effects and memory of the Jewish experience in postwar France (readings include Arendt, Tunisian Jewish writer Albert Memmi's autobiographical novel Pillar of Salt, Piotr Rawicz's searing novel Blood from the Sky, Henri Raczymow's Writing the Book of Esther, Alain Finkielkraut's The Imaginary Jew, and Patrick Modiano's hybrid memorial text Dora Bruder). A second focus will be on non-Jewish French deportees (Robert Antelme, The Human Race and Marguerite Duras, The War: a Memoir). A third focus will be on post-war French cultural and political theory articulated around the minoritarian positionality and/or statelessness of Jews. This corpus not infrequently celebrates the "Jewish" condition of diaspora, exile, and minority political status as an attractive counter-model to hegemonic political projects rooted in inevitably violent conceptions of homogenous community. While trying to do justice to the aims, rigor, and seriousness of these interventions, we will throw some of their underlying premises into question. (Readings by Blanchot, Lyotard, Nancy, Deleuze & Guatarri, Cixous.) Finally, toward the end of the course, we will explore the situation of the sans-papiers (undocumented aliens) in contemporary France, and political theorizing that throws light on what is at stake in their struggle to be seen as political persons by thinkers including Rancière and Negri & Hardt.
Conducted in English.
600.U - Queer Love: Textes français avant 1900 / Etudes queer après 2005. Roland Barthes's Sade Fourier Loyola gracefully articulated similarities between contemplative, utopian, and sexual discourse. Loyola's mysticism and Sade's erotic theatrics meet, with the middle term — Fourier — providing a Marxist dimension. Barthes's constellation of metaphysics, Sade's erotics, and speculative politics can be usefully revised in the optic of recent developments in queer theory. We will read French texts representative of the premodern period (esp.12th, 16th, 18th c.) including Voltaire's Candide, Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, Marie de France's Lais, etc., and excerpts of contemporary French critique (Foucault, Deleuze, Rancière, etc.), guided by current commentaries on these texts by queer theorists including Michael Snediker (Voltaire/Leibniz), Cary Howie (Bachelard), David Willis (Sade), and Robert McRuer (crip theory).
- FRE 614 - Introduction to the Study of French Literature
- Introduction to concepts of literary history and assumptions and practices of literary criticism by studying significant examples of literary theory.
- FRE 617/618 - Intensive Course for Graduate Students
- Provides reading knowledge of French for graduate students in other disciplines. 617: No speaking component in this course. Vocabulary building, through readings, with emphasis on French grammar for recognition purposes. 618: Readings of increasing difficulty with emphasis on idiomatic usage in student's own discipline.
Only offered during summer.
- FRE 680 - Independent Study
- Independent work in French literature or language.
- FRE 700 - Research for Master's Thesis
(1-10; usually 6)