Courses available in French


Mon ultime prière: Ô mon corps, fais de moi toujours un homme qui interroge!

— Fanon

French 183A: Configurations of Crisis — The Poetics of Political Asylum in Contemporary France


List will be  finalized by Oct. 15, but contenders include Shumona Singha, Assommons les pauvres!, Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, Ulysse from Bagdad,  Delphine Coulin, Samba pour la France, Karine Tuil, Douce France, Boualem Sansal Garraga (excerpts) and Laurent Gaudé, Eldorado. There will also be a strong film component.

Course Description:

Le terme « réfugié » s’appliquera à toute personne qui (…) craignant avec raison d’être persécutée du fait de sa race, de sa religion, de sa nationalité, de son appartenance à un certain groupe social ou de ses opinions politiques, se trouve hors du pays dont elle a la nationalité et qui ne peut ou, du fait de cette crainte, ne veut se réclamer de la protection de ce pays.  Article premier de la Convention de Genève, 28 juillet 1951.

This course investigates the itineraries and narratives of refugees who are seeking political asylum in France today. Contemporary fiction and film will help us reconstruct the stages of their flight from political, religious, and also economic oppression, and to chart their perilous journey across transit territories and high seas into France. As refugees confront the legal bureaucracy of asylum, many questions arise: What constitutes the right to asylum? When is a refugee deemed “worthy” or “unworthy”? What forms of trauma and suffering fall under the Geneva Convention’s definition of persecution, and what forms do not? What forms of evidence are required? What stories are considered persuasive or unreliable? What is the role of translation in this process? We will pay particular attention to the forms of personhood that emerge or are put into crisis by clandestine passage, undocumented labor, extra-territorial spaces of detention, etc. We will also consider how the asylum process turns applicants into authors of their past, summoning them to act as translators of their stories before the state and the law. We will pursue these and related questions through readings of literature, cinema, law and theory.

French 102 or consent of Instructor.

Additional information:
This course satisfies one “Culture” or one “Elective” requirement in the French major. This course also satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth in Social and Behavioral Sciences.   Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes