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Le voyage n'est nécessaire qu'aux imaginations courtes.

—Colette

French 274: Traditions of Critical Thought — Literature and Anthropology

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Course Reader

Course Description:

The literary genre can often be considered from an anthropological point of view, whereas anthropological texts can very well be perceived through their literary mode of writing. In this seminar, we will seek to understand the blurring of distinctions between these two disciplines, that of literature and anthropology. This seminar is divided into two parts. In a first moment, we will devote our analysis to twentieth-century France, by  exploring the dialog between anthropological knowledge and literary writing. This dialog is best exemplified in the works of Michel Leiris, Georges Bataille and Levy-Strauss.  We will consider the meaning of notions such as sacrifice, religion, ritual and community, through an analysis of these author’s main body of work. In the second part of the seminar, we will turn toward the analysis of  the relationship between literature and anthropology in post-colonial studies. Taking as a point of departure works by Edward Said and Achille Mbembé, we will analyze in depth conceptual terms such as exoticism, orientalism and otherness when they relate to the understanding of colonial and post-colonial societies

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes