From Solitary Strolls to Silly Walks: Walking and Modernity in France and Elsewhere

R1A (Section 3) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Fall 2015
M. Evans

Readings and Films:

List subject to change; final list to be provided the first day of class.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Reveries of a Solitary Walker

Andre Breton – Nadja

Raymond Queneau – Odile

Georges Perec – An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris

Robert Walser – The Walk

Tom McCarthy – Remainder

Course Reader to feature Balzac, Baudelaire, Montaigne, Guy Debord & the Situationist International, Frank O’Hara, Jacques Roubaud, Michel de Certeau, Sophie Calle, Will Self, Rebecca Solnit, Pierre Alferi, Daniel Buren.

Films:   Agnes Varda – Cleo from 5 to 7; Vagabond

Kelly Reichardt – Old Joy


How does the way we walk and the way we think about walking frame and reflect the way we humans define ourselves? How do the walks we go on and the walking we do evolve over time and space, between cultures, between genders, between perceived categories of abilities and disabilities? This course will take up these questions as we look at the way in which walking has been thematized or sometimes just sneaks into some important moments in the history of French literature. From Rousseau’s rambling reveries to Baudelaire’s flaneur and the Situationists’ drunken dérives, there is a long tradition of French authors thinking through walking as mediator in how we’re put together as subjects and how we put together the world around us. We will bring our focus on walking as it relates to ideas of modernity, of what it is to be modern, and what kinds of cultural or artistic practices can properly be called modern. Do we walk through this modern world as mechanical objects, fixed in our ideas about where we should go and how we should get there? Or can walking open onto something new or unexpected? Our readings will be predominantly literary, but we will take forays into the histories of cinema, photography, performance art and elsewhere

Additional information:

French R1A satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes