Courses available in French


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


French 275A: Problems of Literary Theory–Proust, Speech Act Theory, and Language-in-Use


Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu

Course Description:

We will read simultaneously, in somewhat experimental fashion, from three different currents of writing. First, we will read long sections from Proust’s A la recherché du temps perdu (dipping into all seven volumes at one point or another). We will be focusing on sections of the novel that have to do with the exchange of language. Second, we will read widely in and around what is called “Speech Act Theory,” a current within philosophy that has also been taken up in literary and cultural studies. (Readings from some of the following: Austin, Grice, Searle, Quine, Putnam, Hornsby, Langton, Brandom, Butler, Sedgwick.) Finally, we will pursue a set of readings related to the concept of language-in-use as developed in present-day linguistic anthropology. This will include some precursor texts in literary criticism, philosophy, and sociology. (Readings from some of the following: Bakhtin, Bourdieu, Peirce, Goffman, Jakobson, Silverstein, Ochs, Agha.) There is, we will find, a productive friction between the way language and language use are viewed in speech act theory and in linguistic anthropology, and we will be exploring how that friction can help us to see ways in which a novel like Proust’s explores what language is, and what it does when we use it. This may lead us to some speculations about what kind of an analytic instrument a novel itself can prove to be when it comes to understanding language-in-use.

Additional Information:

It is desirable that participants be able to read Proust in the original French, but others with an interest in the topic may enroll in the seminar as space allows.


Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes