Demand the Impossible! France in the 1960s
Georges Perec, Things: A Story of the Sixties
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
Kristin Ross, May ’68 and Its Afterlives
In this course we will study some of the tumultuous events that occurred in France during the 1960s beginning with the Algerian War, and later 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, post-war, 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 society into question and “demanding the impossible!” Through essays, novels, philosophical texts, manifestos, films and poetry, this course investigates the legacies of these movements as well as the historical and literary narratives that have since come to frame these events.
In connection with our theme, this course fulfills the R&C requirement. Discussions and written work will focuses on the critical analysis of texts, images, and sounds. 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 reading and class discussion, students should prepare to write frequent discussion board posts, two formal essays (2-3 pages) as well as a final research paper (8-10 pages).
French R1B fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Class conducted in ENGLISH.