Courses available in French


Tout est dit, et l’on vient trop tard.

— La Bruyère

French 175A: Literature and the Visual Arts — Exploring the banlieues (“R”)


Required texts:
Philippe Vasset, Un livre blanc
Manu Larcenet, Blast
Mohamed Razane, Dit violent

Course Description:

In this course, we will organize a dialogue (sometimes a confrontational one) between literature and the visual arts by studying these media’s respective attempts to represent a specific, marginal space—the Parisian banlieues—as well as their working class, immigrant population. We will read literary texts (prose and poetry), watch films (by Godard, Pialat, Kechiche) study photographs (by Atget, Doisneau) and street art, read graphic novels as well as texts written about photography (by Benjamin and Barthes) in order to comprehend the singular challenges with which the banlieues confront the textual and visual modes of representation. We will be investigating the following topics and questions: if the banlieues have long been a marginal, under-represented space (compared to the Parisian city-center in particular), how are we to understand its increasing centrality in contemporary culture, literature and visual arts? What kind of codes, stereotypes have unfolded in the history of the figuration of the banlieues and the banlieusards? What kind of aesthetic shifts can we observe in the transition of the banlieues from an industrial, working class site to a postindustrial, postcolonial space? Which types of texts, what kind of images are now being created from within the banlieues, in particular since the 2005 riots? And finally, how do literary and visual representation complement each other, and show each others’ limits and capacities? Course taught in French. Additional texts will be made available on bCourses. All students will be expected to undertake small research projects of their own dealing with one literary text and one visual work we will have studied.


French 102 or consent of instructor. Film Studies students should consult the instructor about French language preparation and prerequisites.

Additional information:

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

This course is designated as an “R” (Research-Oriented) course in the French major sequence.  There will be specific emphasis on crafting research topics and acquiring bibliographical skills.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes