Dissidence and Subversion
“There is no material content, no formal category of an artistic creation […] which did not originate in the empirical reality from which it breaks free.” ~Theodore Adorno
These words by Theodor Adorno call attention to two aspects of artistic creation: (1) that it is always a function of its times and (2) that it breaks free from it. Although seemingly contradictory, these two aspects work together to make art — literature and film, in our case — a site where aspects of historical reality are reflected under the lens and light chosen by the writer/director. The series of choices they make will therefore respond to a particular historical reality favorably, critically, or altogether attempt to escape it.
In this course we will consider literary and cinematographic works from the XVIII century to the present that position themselves antagonistically vis-à-vis a form of government, ideology, or historical event. Our discussions will explore how these texts are situated in the historical context and, more importantly, what they react against, what they attempt to overcome, and by what means — stylistic, generic, discursive, philosophical, aesthetic, or otherwise. Throughout our discussions we will trace how the modes of literary engagement change with each period, why they change, and whether there is a perennial form of writerly commitment that endures across ages, genres, styles. Concurrently, we shall consider the place and influence of the writer in the public sphere from the Enlightenment to the present, both in France and across the Francophone World.
French R1B fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Class conducted in ENGLISH.