Topics in French Culture: Scenes from the South of France

FRIT F225 — Spring 2021

Elizabeth Hebbard
Days and Times
MW 1:10P - 2:25P
Course Description

Fulfills GenEd World Cultures Credit

How and when do literature and art mythologize a place, its people, and its traditions? Where is the line between nostalgia and fiction? Do the arts simply depict cultural traditions, or do they create them as well? What can we learn about a place through its iconographies? How do day-to-day objects, events, and words build a cultural identity? This course explores the rich cultural life and history of the south of France, with particular focus on Provence. Provence is a land known for its arid climate and rocky terrain, as well as its many rivers, natural springs, and the enviable views of the French Riviera. Its cuisine features familiar Mediterranean staples and includes iconic French dishes like bouillabaisse and ratatouille. Provence is home to Roman ruins, rural villages, medieval walled cities, and the cosmopolitan port of Marseille. And it is a land whose beauty and complexity has inspired artistic creation for centuries. We will study all of these aspects of Provençal culture—its lands, its food, its people—through the music, literature, painting, and film of its many notable artists. We will consider how cultural artifacts depict Provençal landscapes, traditions, and perspectives. Our emphasis on a specific region within metropolitan France will allow us to reflect on French regionalism and the way Provençal identity has been shaped by political, religious, and linguistic conflict in addition to its celebrated literary and artistic heritage.


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