FREN 366 - Francophone Literature and Cultures
Semester Offered: Fall and Spring
Topic for 2017/18a: The Detours of Experience: History and Memory in Postcolonial Francophone Literatures. In the past 25 years, memory has become a resurgent question as official versions of History have increasingly been brought under scrutiny. This course examines the representation of the past in a cross-section of contemporary francophone novels from the Caribbean, and North and West Africa. We analyze the protagonists’ new role as cultural mediators between a personal and a collective memory to reveal the silences of History and reconstruct forgotten experiences. We evaluate the authors’ treatment of the concept of narrator as witness. Finally, we look at the impact of memory on a new aesthetic of literary commitment.
Authors studied include Marie-Célie Agnant (Haïti), Nathacha Appanah (Mauritius/France), Nina Bouraoui (France), Boubacar Boris Diop (Senegal), Tierno Monenembo (France/Guinea), Gisèle Pineau and Maryse Condé (France/Guadelupe), Leïla Sebbar (France/Algeria), and Abdourahman Waberi (France/USA/Djibouti). Patricia-Pia Célérier
Topic for 2017/18b: Screening Integration. French films have a reputation in the US for being too intellectual or “artsy” for the masses and steeped in so-called avant-garde aesthetics. This seminar aims to debunk that stereotype by exploring how the astonishing diversity and accessibility of French cinematic production actually reflects France’s historical move towards a multiculturalist society. In particular, since the early 1980s, French citizens of North African immigrant descent have engaged in making a cinema that foregrounds their experiences. Likewise, as protagonists, they now play central roles on the French screen. By accessing the means of production, Maghrebi-French filmmakers have moved from the activist, marginal cinema of the 1980s to the mainstream French film industry in the 1990s. Their films not only gained mainstream recognition at the national and international level, but have now also reached a critical mass, which permits us to evaluate them in relation to one another. The breadth of this new cinematic corpus gives us the opportunity to consider how the French Republic has dealt with questions of migration and integration – both clearly anchored within France’s colonial and postcolonial history – while foregrounding human stories, an approach in which the cinematic medium excels. We focus on films of various genres, from comedy (Djamel Bensalah) and heritage films (Rachid Bouchareb) to dramas (Abdellatif Kechiche) and crime fiction (Roschdy Zem) of the 1990s and 2000s. Our study of these topical films offers us a way to understand how cultural products such as cinema also participate in the social and political debate, and thus contribute to the construction of the idea that is the nation. Vinay Swamy.
One 2-hour period.
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