FREN-GA 2290: Studies in Medieval Lit—Sight and sound in late Medieval French poetry
Prof. Sarah KAY
This seminar will deal primarily with the works of the greatest French poet of the 14th century, Guillaume de Machaut. Machaut composed what are called “dits” or “lyrico-narrative texts” in which different kinds of literary form (prose, octosyllabic couplets, and various lyric forms like the rondeau, the ballade and the lai) are combined. These different literary forms in turn imply different kinds of voice, including the singing voice; and they are represented as being sung, spoken, written, or read by different characters within each work. Machaut was a well-known composer and musical innovator, and thus the musical component enjoys especial importance, but is far from being the only aspect of sound that he evokes. Machaut’s works are also transmitted in carefully designed and illuminated codices, some of which contain musical notation; the author himself oversaw the production of at least one of these manuscripts. Alongside the elaborate visual programs of these manuscripts are his works’ frequent appeals to the visual imagination, expressed through the use of motifs such as the dream vision or the portrait, or by means of personification (the representation of abstract concepts as visible entities).
The purpose of this class will be to engage with the multi-media properties of these works, whether in their textual form or in their material manifestation as manuscripts. We will situate Machaut in relation to some of his predecessors (13th-century dits and works with lyric insertion) and successors (Froissart and Christine de Pizan), with the aim of understanding both what is specific to him and what is more generally characteristic of the sensual culture of late medieval poetry.
The course will include reflections on voice and image; on poetics and manuscript culture; and will encourage comparison with modern genres that similarly play across sight and sound such as opera and cinema.
FREN-GA 1001: Studies in Genres & Modes—Identity in the Theatre: Africa, Black France, and the Transnational
Prof. Judith MILLER
How does theatre shore up or question identity? How, particularly, have theatre texts and theatrical production worked to build the identities of writers from African backgrounds writing in French? Is it possible to locate a migration in themes, forms and concerns from the earliest dramatic texts of decolonization (Aimé Césaire, Bernard Dadié) to the formal and ritualistic experimentation of Werewere Liking to the transnational work of Koffi Kwahulé, José Pliya, and Marie Ndiaye, to a “return” to Africa (Aristide Tarnagda) ? We will read their plays in conversation with some major theorists on the notion of African identity (Valentin Mudimbé, Anthony Appiah, Chris Miller, Dominic Thomas). And we will locate a similar form of questioning in a few prose works by Ferdinand Oyono, Mongo Béti, Alain Mabancou, Léonora Miano, Margo Jefferson, and Yaa Gyasu. In addition to a mid-term exam (a textual commentary), there will be a 10-minute exposé on an author and relevant topic to be delivered in class and developed into a short paper. There will also be a research paper to be developed in consultation with the professor. Class in French.
FREN-GA 2791 Studies in Contemporary French Thought—Lire avec les oreilles
Prof. Francois NOUDELMANN
Ce séminaire propose d'enlever les bouchons que nous mettons dans nos oreilles en lisant les textes et d'entendre le foisonnement sonore qui les compose. La littérature, comme la philosophie, font du bruit, pour peu que nous l'écoutions. La première attention concernera les voix, accessibles au XXe siècle par l'enregistrement audio des parleurs et favorisant l'auscultation de leur écriture. Le spectre sonore des écrivains et penseurs sera défini différemment selon sa diffusion orale ou écrite.
Plusieurs vocalités seront mises en évidence, selon les protocoles d'expression (entretiens publics ou privés, conférences, chants…) ainsi que leurs composants : souffle, rythme, vitesse, volume, hauteur, intensité. Seront aussi pris en compte les accents régionaux (et parfois leur refoulement dont certains écrivains et penseurs ont avoué qu'il détermine leur style), les silences et les sons inarticulés (grognements, cris et chuchotements, dont Artaud ou Beckett usèrent souvent). La voix sera ainsi intégrée à une étude générale des milieux ou "paysages" sonores.
Comment les sons vibrent-ils dans les textes, qu'ils viennent de la musique savante, des écosystèmes animaux ou des bruits de la nature (dont Quignard décrit les compositions contingentes)? Au-delà d'un motif référentiel, la reconnaissance de cette dimension sonore nécessite une "écoute seconde" qui met à distance la signification pour accéder à d'autres sens. Apprendre à lire avec les oreilles est le programme d'une "acousmatique des textes".
FREN-GA 1500: Topics French Cult History— Nineteenth-Century France and Its Empire
Prof. Stephane GERSON
“The nineteenth-century, an extremely restless model, so difficult to keep in place.” So wrote the novelist Balzac about a century that began in revolution and ended with war, but lacked its own defining event, moment, or figure. Gustave Flaubert and others hated its bourgeois stupidity, but it is Balzac’s restlessness that captures the attention, the flux and the unnerving perception of flux, the routes of mobility and circulation and also the weight of immobility. To delve into this century is to encounter marches towards democracy and reaction; social changes that contemporaries embraced while seeking to escape them; economic innovations that brought in the new without displacing the old; circulations of peoples and good and ideas within and outside the country’s borders; technologies that altered experiences of time and space (though not for all, and not at the same time); a dialectical dance between forces of reason and belief; and the outward march of the colonial empire, bringing “civilization” without citizenship. The nineteenth century was nothing if not restive, unsure of its own destiny, self-contradictory, and yet a birthplace of modernity.
By focusing on the metropole as well as the new Empire, and by analyzing primary and secondary sources, we will gain a triple introduction to French history, key historiographical debates, and historical method. Class time will be divided between lectures and discussions in which students engage critically with the sources and outline their own nineteenth century, alongside Balzac’s and Flaubert’s.
FREN-GA 1101: Proseminar
Prof. Denis HOLLIER
Proseminar: Approximations (approaches to approaches.) How close can one get to a text ?
Ce séminaire a pour objet, moins les théories littéraires considérées en elles-mêmes, qu’un certain nombre de théories in action, des performances de lecture au contact de quelques textes littéraires français (lectures de Rousseau, de Baudelaire, de Proust.) Parmi les questions abordées: La critique peut-elle se définir comme un genre littéraire de plein droit? Du statut du secondaire : y a-t-il une différence entre textes dits «premiers» et littérature dite secondaire? Existe-t-il un lien entre critique (et/ou théorie) et modernité ? Formalisme, structuralisme, herméneutique, deconstruction (Leo Spitzer, Jean Starobinski, Maurice Blanchot, Gérard Genette, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida)
FREN-GA 1764: Literature and Cinema—Teaching French Cinema
Prof. Ludovic CORTADE
Film has become a major component of graduate studies in many Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures. The ability to teach film is also a skill that is sought after by search committees in the academic job market.
The goal of this graduate course is twofold:
1) “Teaching Film” is an introduction to the methodology of film analysis that is specifically tailored to the needs and to the interests of graduate students specializing in literature, modern languages, theory and cultural studies. Students will choose and analyze films on the basis of their research interest through the lens of a large range of topics including literature and cultural studies (class, gender, politics, ethnicity, globalization, etc.).
2) “Teaching Film” provides students with opportunities to discuss and to implement teaching strategies including how to interact with students in class, how to create a lesson plan, how to write a syllabus, etc.
This course is an introduction to the methodology of film analysis that is tailored to the interests of graduate students in modern languages and literatures. It is also a workshop that provides students with teaching skills and prepares them for the academic job market.
FREN-GA 1191 Topics: Eco-materialities
Prof. Phillip USHER
Taking wholly seriously the title of Bruno Latour’s book We Have Never Been Modern, this graduate seminar puts recent eco-material turns in contemporary theory—the Anthropocene, vibrant matter, ecological thought, plant theory, the Gaia hypothesis, etc.—in dialogue with early modern literature. We will read contemporary thinkers such as Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, Timothy Morton, Jeffrey Nealon, Michael Marder, Luce Irigary, and Jussi Parikkah, alongside early modern works by Ronsard, Montaigne, Du Bellay, Leonhart Fuchs, Petrarch, Shakespeare, and others. Asserting that early modern humanism (when properly defined) is already posthumanist, the seminar will examine how early modern texts—precisely because of their pre-modernity—might provide theoretical openings in phase with, and as foundations of and genealogies for, contemporary thought. Running themes will include: matter and materiality, geomedia, vegetal life, lyric and philosophy, the chain of life. Throughout the semester, a number of invited speakers will join us.
FREN-GA 2992: Professional Writing Practices
Prof. Phillip USHER
Professional Writing Practices (1) is taught in the fall semester. The course convenes for 2 hours every 2 weeks. 2 credits are awarded each semester making 4 in total.
Together with Professional Writing Practices (2), the course parallels the training which students receive in Pedagogy. Whereas Pedagogy provides them with the professional tools necessary for teaching, Professional Writing Practices (1) and (2) equip them to write professional documents from curriculum vitae to fellowship applications.
Over the course of the semester, students must work on writing and improving the following: CV, short-and long-term fellowship applications, web presence, conference paper. They will also be able to work on writing some of the following: teaching statement, research statement, conference abstract, journal article, prospectus, book proposal.
FREN-GA 1012: Teaching French as a Foreign Language (2nd years)
Prof. John MORAN
This series of bi-weekly workshop-seminars is designed to provide you, new teachers of French at New York University, with a forum in which to ask questions and share ideas. It is also designed to provide you with the background knowledge, both theoretical and practical, that is necessary to be not only a successful teacher, but also a successful teacher who can speak intelligently about foreign language pedagogy and methodology. Below you will find a very general program for the semester that indicates topics to be covered and work to be done. However, given the limited amount of time we have to spend together in these workshops, if you find that something you would like to discuss is not covered, please do not hesitate to bring it up. I will try my best to fit it into our calendar.
1st Session (Sept. 15): First two weeks of teaching – discussion & analysis, Language Acquisition Theories: overview, Self-observation due (lesson plan, evaluation sheet & prose summary)
2nd Session (Sept. 19): Methodologies: overview, Peer observation due (lesson plan, evaluation sheet & prose summary)
3rd Session (Oct. 13): Assessment, Test drafts due to all workshop participants
4th Session (Nov. 3): Integrating grammar instruction in your lessons, Test analysis due
5th Session (Nov. 17): Phonetics & teaching pronunciation, Activity targeting grammatical structure due
6th Session (Dec. 1): Integrating culture in the classroom, Activity targeting pronunciation/speaking due
7th Session (Dec. 8): Wrap-up, Statement of Teaching Philosophy due
FREN-GA 2991: Prospectus Workshop (3rd years)
Prof. Denis HOLLIER