- Margaret Gray
- Global and International Studies Building 0011
- Days and Times
- TR, 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
- Course Description
Prerequisite: F250, F265, equivalent or consent of department.
The Heart and Its Reasons
An introduction to French and Francophone studies, this course has three goals:
- to provide further exposure to a variety of literary genres in French, including poetry, theatre, the novel and the short story
- to develop and sharpen reading skills through practice in close reading and techniques of literary analysis
- to foster student progress in practical skills such as aural and written comprehension, as well as oral and written expression.
“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know” wrote seventeenth-century thinker Blaise Pascal in assessing the tangled relationship between love and reason which underlies many of our texts. Beginning with Renaissance love poems in the Petrarchan tradition, we will analyze the reprise and transformation of these forms in the Romantic lyrics of the nineteenth century, as well as their subsequent post-Symbolist ironizations. We will then proceed with our study of irony in the context of a different genre, theatre, as we see that Jean Anouilh’s manipulation of the ideal of romantic love in Le Bal des Voleurs becomes a vehicle for powerful social critique. Along with its probing questions of class difference, however, the play offers a delightful mix of bumbling thieves attempting to get the best of a rich and canny dowager and her eligible nieces, as true love and personal honor triumph across social and economic differences. Turning next to narrative, we will study David Foenkinos’s acclaimed 2009 novel La délicatesse with its issues of self-reconstruction after loss in a different yet equally heart-warming love story, that of a young professional woman and an improbable subordinate. The semester will conclude with a selection of short stories illuminating thematic and formal issues, from problems of moral responsibility (Albert Camus) to voice (Henri Thomas) and point of view (Jean-Louis Curtis). Exercises will include an in-class writing assignment, a midterm exam consisting of quotations to analyze and an essay question, a paper of literary analysis and a comprehensive final exam. All discussion and written work will be conducted in French.
Class number: 2629