The Cultures of Franco-America

Fall 2021
Class No: 30213
S. Maslan
3:30-4:59 PM

(Please note: This course fulfills the Berkeley campus American Cultures (AC) requirement. The course will be taught in English, and knowledge of French is not required).

In this course, we will consider a broad range of literary and cultural texts that emerge out of the long history of the French in North America and of Americans in France.  Our readings will include novels, poetry, and short stories—including the earliest known work of African American fiction, written in French and published in Paris in 1837.  Alongside these literary texts produced by French writers in America and American expatriates in France, we will consider travel narratives and missionary accounts describing interactions between European and Native American populations; historical, ethnographic, and political writings; foodways and other popular cultural forms such as music, comic strips, films, and television programs.

Throughout the semester, our discussions will focus on the politics of representation— we will work to understand the processes through which categories of “race” are shaped over time through the interplay between Anglo- and Franco-American cultures and ideologies, even as these categories are challenged from the perspectives of minority populations.  As we trace these processes of racialization, we will be particularly attentive to intersections between “race” and class, gender, and sexuality; at the same time, we will consider the ways in which all of these categories of identity are inflected by language, by regional and national forms of belonging and exclusion, and by the presence of “mixed-race” communities.

Over the course of the semester, our readings will include selections from the following texts/authors: The Jesuit Relations, François René de Chateaubriand, Alexis de Tocqueville, Hippolyte Castra, Armand Lanusse, Victor Séjour, Kate Chopin, Louisiana Story (dir. Robert Flaherty), Jean Arceneaux, J’ai été au bal (dirs. Blank & Strachwitz), James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Bennett, Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker (cinematic performances), William Gardner Smith, M.F.K. Fisher, Samuel Chamberlain, Julia Child, Michael Pollan.

No knowledge of French is required. All lectures and discussions in English.

Additional information:
Satisfies UC Berkeley American Cultures requirement; satisfies 1 “Outside Elective” in the French major; satisfies one course requirement in the French minor.