Courses available in French

Courses

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

—Fanon

French 120A: Twentieth-Century Literature — Guerres, Révoltes, Littératures. Minuit dans le 20ème siècle.

Readings:

Vercors, Le silence de la mer (1942)

Samuel Beckett, En attendant Godot (1952)

Henri Alleg, La question (1958)

Monique Wittig, Le corps lesbien (1973)

Robert Linhart, L’établi (1978)

Jean-Philippe Toussaint, La salle de bain (1984)

Marie NDiaye, Papa doit manger (2003)

Course Description:

This course will explore the relationships between aesthetic innovations and political writing in French literature from the 1940s onwards. We will read literary works (novels, “récits,” theater plays) written by some of the most important French writers of the 20th and 21st century, watch a few films excerpts, and bring these novels and films into dialogue with the main artistic movements, social transformations and political conflicts that have shaped the second part of the century, especially WW2 and its aftermaths, the Algerian War and May ‘68.

We will mainly focus on writers published by Les Éditions de Minuit, using this famous publishing house as a guide through the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. We will start when “Minuit” was clandestinely founded, in 1941 in the midst of the Resistance. We will read the first novel Minuit ever published (Vercors’s Le silence de la mer, later adapted for film by Melville), and follow the publishing house through its golden age—the 1950s, when its director Jérôme Lindon started publishing Beckett’s “absurdist theater” and the “nouveaux romanciers.” We will then move to the 1960s and the 1970s—a time of social transformations in France and for Minuit—and read novels and “documents” that directly engaged with the political events and issues of their time, such as torture during the Algerian war (Alleg), the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (Wittig) and radical leftist militanism (Linhart).

We will end with contemporary novels and plays written by the most recent generation of “Minuit authors” to consider what becomes of formal innovation, anti-imperialist struggles and political writing in the postmodern and postcolonial era, when wars, revolutions and vanguard movements have seemingly disappeared altogether from the French contemporary landscape.

Prerequisites:

French 102 or consent of Instructor.

Additional Information:

This course satisfies 1 “Literature/Genre” or 1 “Elective” course requirement in the French major.  Satisfies one course in the French minor.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes