France And The U.S.A. -- Cross Cultural Encounters In Literature And Film

R1B (Section 1 or 2) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Spring 2016
M. Koerner


Gertrude Stein, Paris, France

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Simone de Beauvoir, America Day By Day

Jean Baudrillard, America

Course Description:

This reading and composition course focuses on the relationship between French and American culture – and the way each country has been perceived by the other – through a survey of writers and filmmakers who have made this relationship a central theme of their work. Over the course of the semester we will analyze literary texts written by Americans living in Paris, narratives written by French intellectuals travelling in the United States, as well as documentaries and feature films produced in both countries. What values, possibilities and forms of sociality have Americans associated with French culture, or more specifically the city of Paris? How have ideas about “America” circulated, both positively and negatively, among French thinkers, social critics and artists? In exploring the relationship between France and the United States, we will pay special attention to the ways issues of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality complicate our understanding of the way each culture appears to the other.


Writing assignments will focus on the close analysis of texts and images, developing critical skills in thinking comparatively and historically, and producing compelling research questions for further inquiry and investigation. In addition to in-class writing exercises students should expect to write three short response essays (2-3 pages), an extended analysis of one literary text or film (4-5 pages), and a final research paper (8-10 pages).

Texts and films to be studied include:

Gertrude Stein, Paris, France; Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast; William Gardner Smith, The Stone Face; James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (excerpts); Simone de Beauvoir, America Day By Day; Jean Baudrillard, America; Jean-Luc Godard, Made in the U.S.A.; Agnes Varda, Black Panthers; Vincente Minnelli, An American in Paris; Greta Schiller, Paris Was a Woman

Additional information:

French R1B satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes