Demand the Impossible! France in the 1960s
George Perec, Things: A Story of the Sixties
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
Monique Wittig, Les Guérillères
Kristin Ross, May ’68 and Its Afterlives (optional)
In this course we will study some of the tumultuous events that occurred in France during the 1960s, including the massive student occupation of universities and the largest labor strike in French history in May ‘68. Situating these events in relation to their broader, global context – decolonization, the emergence of the “society of the spectacle,” and mass demonstrations against the wars in Algeria and Vietnam – this course offers students an overview of one of the most transformative decades of the twentieth century. In challenging traditional social norms and existing forms of authority and representation, young people across the globe were calling the society they inherited into question. Through novels, philosophical texts, manifestos, films and poetry, this course investigates the legacies of these movements as well as the historical narratives that have since come to frame these events.
In connection with our theme, this Reading and Composition course focuses on the critical analysis of texts, images, and sounds (literary works, historical documents, speeches and manifestos, as well as photographs, posters, film and music related to the period we are studying). In addition to gaining skills in literary and rhetorical analysis, students will strengthen their capacities to produce informed responses to materials encountered in class, formulate compelling research questions, and build persuasive arguments. Writing assignments emphasize drafting, revising, and responding to feedback. In addition to several in-class writing exercises, students should expect to write two short response essays (2-3 pages) as well as a final research paper (8-10 pages).
French R1B satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH.