Courses available in French


Le voyage n'est nécessaire qu'aux imaginations courtes.


French 177A: History and Criticism of Film — Sex, Gender, and Desire


See Description.

Course Description:

French cinema is a cinema of desire, from melodramas of heterosexuality in the pre- and postwar periods, to the rescripting of desire through a feminist lens in the ‚Äė60s and ‚Äė70s, and the emergence of queer counter-currents. It is a cinema in which fantasies of masculinity and femininity intersect with myths of family, race, and nation, shaping (and sometimes challenging) cultural norms and ideals.

In this course, we will examine the historical contexts, politics, and aesthetics of French cinema’s century-long problematization of sex, gender, and desire. Our (mandatory) weekly film viewings will be accompanied by readings of both theoretical and literary texts. No prior experience with film analysis is necessary. Please note: the course touches on topics of a potentially sensitive nature and includes some sexually explicit materials, including scenes of (fictional) sexual violence. Indeed, one of our key questions is why images and narratives of transgression have played such a key role in French literature and cinema, and we will also ask how and why French film-makers in the 21st century have veered in the direction of an explicit treatment of non-normative sex, from Catherine Breillat’s Romance (1999) to Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (2013) and Alan Guidaudie’s L’inconnu du lac (2013).


French 102 or equivalent;  Taught in French, though non-French majors may be able to submit written work in English (consult with instructor).  Film studies students should consult with instructor about language prerequisites.

Additional Information:

This course satisfies¬†1 ‚ÄúCulture‚ÄĚ or¬†1 ¬†‚ÄúElective‚ÄĚ course requirement in the French major.¬†¬† Satisfies one course requirement in the French minor.¬† This course also¬†satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth requirement in Arts and Literature or International Studies.

streaming links for the films will be provided by instructor.




Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes