Graduate Courses
Advanced undergraduate students may enroll in graduate level courses with instructor permission.

FREN 5520/8520 – Topics in 16th Century Lit: 1515 – 2015: Marguerite de Navarre and the Beginnings of the Renaissance

In 1515, François Ier became king of France, bringing his close relatives, including his sister Marguerite, to the center of power. The date has become synonymous with the beginning of the French Renaissance – a term, however, coined only later in the 19th century. The 500th anniversary of this event, for which widespread celebrations have been prepared, invites us to reconsider what was at stake, intellectually and culturally, in the first half of the sixteenth century, both from the perspective of those involved and from ours. The seminar will focus on the figure of Marguerite de Navarre, who in the years before her death in 1549 – the year in which Du Bellay also published his manifesto text La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoise – worked on her great novella collection the Heptaméron. At the same time, she also revised and (re)published many of her earliest works, including the Miroir de l’âme pécheresse (1531), collected in the 1547 Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses. Among other topics, we will examine Marguerite’s use of the framed narrative, both in poetry and in prose; her engagement with humanism and with ancient and Italian models, including neo-Platonism; her involvement with religious reform movements, notably Evangelicalism; her contribution to the ongoing Querelle des femmes; and her relationships with and patronage of other writers and thinkers in her circle such as Marot and Rabelais.


FREN 5540/8540: Topics in 18th-Century Literature: The Human Body in the Eighteenth Century

This course will examine how thinkers of eighteenth-century France conceived of the human body and how these concepts informed the literature of the era. These thinkers dealt with questions such as: what is the connection between the soul and the body? How can we explain differences between various races and nationalities? Does science justify gender roles, in particular Rousseau's new ideas about motherhood? Could too much or too little sexual activity kill you? What was the physiological basis for emotion? How do we explain exceptional cases like albinos or so-called monstrous births? And to what extent did society control the individual's body? These questions will be part of a series of bodily issues that we will discuss during the semester.

Primary texts will include articles from the Encyclopédie, chapters of Rousseau's Emile, works by Buffon, Diderot, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, and a number of eighteenth-century scientists. We will also consider scientific treatises from Antiquity that influenced medical thought about national differences and gender roles. In addition to these primary texts, we will also look at scholarly research about the body in the eighteenth century, such as works by Anne Vila, Michel Foucault, and Philippe Ariès.


FREN 5584/8584 Cinéma, histoire, mémoire

Some scholars argue that film, an essentially twentieth-century medium, has shaped the mental universe of the century. Throughout the century, cinema has maintained a complex and evolving relationship to historical events and circumstances. Film has played a role both in recording and shaping history, as well as in shaping collective and individual memory of past events. In this course, we will explore the interconnections among history, memory, and cinema with regards to two periods from the French past that have ongoing historical and memorial legacies in contemporary France: the colonial period and the Second World War. We will address questions such as whether films are products of a particular socio-historical context, how they have shaped and reflected historical events, and how they have actively intervened in debates over the writing of history and memory. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to the specificities of film form and language in negotiating these relationships.

We will examine a range of documentaries and fiction films from French and Francophone filmmakers from the late 1930s to the present, including three films from the M.A. reading list. We will also read widely in French history, film history, and film theory. Students will be expected to acquire a working knowledge of film vocabulary in French, to write a publishable film analysis paper in French or English, and to complete a digital video project in French.