“This Could All Be Yours Someday” – Imagining the Nation Through Literature

R1B :  English Composition through French Literature
Spring 2023
Class No: 21616
263 Dwinelle
Michael Arrigo
12:30 - 1:59 PM

This course will be oriented toward the development of research skills and the production of literary analysis papers that engage with secondary sources. 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 expression, 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’s 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, note taking, bibliographical curation, as well as further improving analytic and argumentative writing skills. Please note that no-shows to the first four class sessions will result in an automatic drop to accommodate students on the waitlist.

Required texts:
Imagined Communities (excerpts)
The Suns of Independence
The Class
The Stranger
The Meursault Investigation