Love, Actually: French Edition
“The more the heart grows, the less useful words become,” declares a French proverb. Writers, poets, and cinematographers of the French and Francophone traditions seem to have taken issue with this proverb: for centuries they have turned to matters of the heart and composed works relating its joys, pains, and — more nterestingly — its complications.
This course will explore a sample of works from the tradition of French/Francophone literature and film in which love becomes a primary or prominent subject. Our discussions of these works will focus on different conceptions and permutations of love across genres and periods — and, of course, the many complications that inevitably accompany it: marriage, family, gender and sexuality, power relations, status, jealousy, betrayal, manipulation, transgression, sex, violence, etc.
Students will be encouraged to consider how love develops and is manifested, used, or abused within each work. As we turn our attention to new works, they will be expected to make connections and trace developments of the dimensions of love across works, periods, and genres. Our classroom discussions and the students’ individual research will inform and deepen our understanding of each work in itself, as well as how it relates to its respective period — both from a literary and socio-political point of view.
The materials for this course will include entire works or selections from the Medieval period (Tristan et Iseult, Le Chevalier de la Charrette, Lais de Marie de France), the Renaissance and Early Modern periods (Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, poems of the Pléiade, Heptaméron), the 17th century (Phèdre, Tartuffe, La Princesse de Clèves), the 18th century (Les Liaisons dangereuses, les Bijoux indiscrets, Paul et Virginie, Justine), the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries (Le Rouge et le Noir, Madame Bovary, Bel-Ami, Cyrano de Bergerac, L’immoraliste, Gigi, Le Journal du voleur), as well as a sampling of acclaimed films from earlier decades and from more recent years (Jules et Jim, Belle de jour, Le Souffle au coeur, Jeux d’enfants, Les Amours imaginaires).
This class will introduce students to approaching textual material critically, and will stress the idea of writing as a process through a variety of assignments and revisions geared to guide the development and clear expression of coherent argumentation.
French R1B satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH.