“This Could All Be Yours Someday” – Building the Nation Through Literature
Imagined Communities (excerpts)
The Suns of Independence
The Meursault Investigation
Supplementary readings provided in Course Reader or on bCourses
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will be oriented toward the development of research skills and the production of two papers. Its theme will focus broadly on how literature shapes the “nation” and mediates our relationship to it. Using concepts from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities as a starting point, this class will focus on a variety of texts, principally from traditions of French expession, meant to consider various themes and questions literature helps to answer in creating and sustaining the imaginary of the nation: who belongs to the nation? how should the nation be represented? What is its genesis story? What versions of history should constitute the nation’s shared memory? Texts will range from Kourouma’a masterwork of disenchantment The Suns of Independence to Bégaudau’s fictionalized account of his experience as French teacher in a schoolroom in Paris in modern France. Beyond textual readings, students will develop practical skills involved in the research process including searching for secondary sources, notetaking, bibliographical curation, as well as further improving analytic and argumentative writing skills.