Courses available in French


La poétique de la durée s'efforce d'apaiser l'hier fiévreux, de tramer ce lointain devenir.


French 121B: Literary Themes, Genres, Structures — “les banlieues”


Blaise Cendrars, La banlieue de Paris (extrait)

Louis-Ferdinand CĂ©line, Voyage au bout de la nuit (extrait)

François Bon, Décor Ciment

Faïza Guène, Les gens du Balto

Mohamed Razane, Dit violent

Philippe Vasset, Un livre blanc


Jean-Luc Godard, Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle

CĂ©cile Sciama, Bande de filles

Mathieu Kassovitz, La Haine

Patrick Alessandrin, Banlieue 13: Ultimatum

Course Description:

In this course, we will focus on French contemporary culture from a particular vantage point: the Parisian suburbs. We will retrace the conflicting history of this space, from the 19th century onward, to explore the genealogy of the banlieues as a precarious space of social marginalization.  Drawing on discourses ranging from sociology (Bourdieu) to architecture (Le Corbusier), space theory (Lefebvre, AugĂ©), postcolonial studies as well as political theory (Fanon, Mbembe, Balibar, Rancière), we will study films and literary texts by major and minor authors with the following questions in mind: which (dis-)continuities can we trace between the 19th century exclusion of industrial workers outside the limits of the city and current marginalization of French citizen of colonial descent? How does the French State organize space?  What idea of “democracy” guides this organization? How does France negotiate its colonial legacy? How can we understand the 2005 suburban revolts? These questions will guide our exploration of the creative forms that have emerged in the banlieues since the 1960s. Students will be introduced to key notions in literary and film analysis, while being encouraged to relate their analysis of cultural objects to the social history of the banlieues.


French 102 or consent of instructor.

Additional information:

This course satisfies 1 “Literature/Genre” or 1 “Elective” course requirement in the French major. Satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth in Arts and Literature; Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes