Courses available in French


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French 177B: History and Criticism of Film — Sex, Gender, and Desire in French Cinema


See Description.

Course Description:

This course approaches French cinema through the lens of three of its perennial themes: sex, gender, and desire. We will start by considering some of the ways iconic French stars have produced and reflected shifting gender ideals from the ‚Äė20s through to the present. We will consider how what film theorist Laura Mulvey calls the ‚Äúmale gaze‚ÄĚ has traditionally shaped cinema aesthetics in France, and then look at how films by women and/or queer film-makers have in recent decades challenged sexual and gendered norms. More generally, we will ask: how have French and francophone film-makers translated desire, in all its variety, into cinematic form? How has the medium of cinema shaped cultural imaginaries of sex, gender, and desire throughout the 20th and 21st centuries? Please note: the course touches on topics of a potentially sensitive nature and includes some sexually explicit materials. Indeed, one of our questions is why sexual explicitness has come to play such an important role in French film aesthetics and politics in recent years, from Catherine Breillat‚Äôs Romance (1999) to Abdellatif Kechiche‚Äôs La Vie d‚ÄôAd√®le (2013) and Gaspar Noe‚Äôs controversial Love (2015). Alongside a weekly film screening, we will read works of theory and criticism by authors including Genevi√®ve Sellier, No√ęl Burch, Ginette Vincendeau, and Roland Barthes. Class discussion will be in French and English.


French 102 or equivalent; French 170 or equivalent is recommended, or consent of instructor.  Film studies students should consult with instructor about language prerequisites

Additional Information:

This course satisfies¬†1 “Culture” or¬†1 ¬†“Elective” course requirement in the French major.¬† ¬†This course also¬†satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth in Arts and Literature. ¬†Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

weekly screening (required):  Tuesdays, 5-7 pm,  142 Dwinelle

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes