Courses available in French


Il ne faut jamais avoir peur d'aller trop loin car la vérité est au-delà.


French 260A: Studies in 20th-Century Literature — Poetics of Memory from the Shoah to the Refugee ‘Crisis’


Texts, films and photography by Alain Resnais, Claude Lanzmann, Jorge Semprun, Shumona Sinha, Sylvain George, Elizabeth Klotz and Nicolas Perceval, Marie Ndiaye, Philippe Lioret, Pascal Manoukian, Ai Weiwei, Richard Mosse, William Kentridge, Hélène Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura, Gianfranco Rosi and others.

Theoretical writings by Adorno, Arendt, Agamben, Balibar, Derrida, Didier and Eric Fassin, Lanzmann, Mbembe, Rancière and others will also help us tease out some continuities and discontinuities between postwar debates on representation- in the artistic sense and the juridico-political sense- and contemporary reflections on the refugee ‘crisis’.

Course Description:

This course takes as its starting point the emergence of particular conceptions of memory in the aftermath of World War Two. How do the poetics of memory forged in a postwar culture of trauma and testimony shape contemporary frameworks for envisioning today’s refugee “crisis”? What do they illuminate, and what are the limits of their purchase on the contemporary moment?

We will examine a range of cultural production with a particular focus on the following questions: How do various discourses of Holocaust memory, biopolitical theory, security, humanitarianism, and human rights help us think about bodies that are blocked, contained, or on the move? What happens to witnessing when  it is transformed into aesthetic form? To what extent can cultural frames re-envision existing politics of representation when it comes to those who appear to have no rights? We will pursue these and other issues through close analysis of cultural productions (film, video, photography, fiction, poetry) along with writings in philosophy, biopolitics, aesthetics, human rights, citizenship studies, security studies, and border studies.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes