Courses available in French


Il ne faut jamais avoir peur d’aller trop loin car la vĂ©ritĂ© est au-delĂ .

— Proust

French 260A: Studies in 20th-Century Literature — Noeuds de mĂ©moire: Trauma and Transcultural Memory


Camus’s La Peste ISBN-10: 2070360423

Driss Chraibi, Les Boucs 2070381609

Charlotte Delbo, La MĂ©moire et les jours 2917191805

Fatou Diome, Le Ventre de l’Atlantique 225310907X

Sartre, Les SĂ©questrĂ©s d’Altona 2070369382

Duras’s Hiroshima mon amour 2070360091

Charlotte Delbo,

Georges Perec, W ou le souvenir d’enfance 2070733165

Modiano’s Dora Bruder 2070408485

Sansal’s Le Village de l’Allemand 2070396991

François Emmanuel, La Question humaine (poche)

Course Description:

As memory studies moves towards a more transcultural orientation, national and ethno-cultural histories are currently reconceptualized through models of convergence and movement: palimpsestic layering, multidirectional and connective memory, interconnected histories, affective entanglements, but also, the dangers of such intersections. This seminar examines representations of “knots of memory “ from postwar France to contemporary French and Francophone cultural production (narrative, film and theory). We will read a selection of literary and cinematic reflections on entangled histories and legacies of trauma from the postwar context to today. We will also engage contemporary theorists who are conceptualizing the transcultural turn in memory studies, several of whom will come to Berkeley in the context of a conference on “memory without borders” in November.

A focal point in our itinerary will be the Holocaust, which has often been approached as a singular event whose magnitude defies representation and forbids comparison. Yet its memory has also been pressed in service of political, ethical and aesthetic struggles against other regimes of racialized violence since the war’s aftermath, leading to a diversification of Holocaust memories, legacies and aesthetic representations. The writers/directors we will study transform Pierre Nora’s concept of a lieu de mémoire, or singular site of memory, into noeuds de mémoire or knots of memory; they illuminate France’s ongoing entanglement with other histories and sites of displacement and loss. Pausing at junctures when distinct memorial pathways have crossed, collided and even collapsed into one another, we will pay particular attention to how the memory of the Nazi genocide, colonialism and slavery have been mobilized towards anti-imperial and post-colonial projects. We will also address the literary figures that enable such contact (allegory, analogy, palimpsest, dialectical image). Throughout, we will seek to understand the layered structure and unpredictable energy of collective memory.


Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes