The Cultures of Franco-America
In this course we will consider a broad range of literary and cultural texts that emerge out of the long history of the French in North America and of Americans in France. On the one hand our readings will include poetry, novels, and several short stories — including the earliest known work of African American fiction, written in French and published in Paris in 1837. Alongside these literary texts produced by French writers in America and American expatriates in France, we will consider travel narratives and missionary accounts describing interactions between European and Native American populations; historical, ethnographic, and political writings; and other popular cultural forms such as music and comic strips, films. Throughout the semester, our discussions will focus on the politics of representation — which is to say that we will work to understand the processes through which categories of “race” are shaped over time through the interplay between Anglo- and Franco-American cultures and ideologies, even as these categories are challenged from the perspectives of minority populations. As we trace these processes of racialization, we will be particularly attentive to intersections between “race” and class, gender, and sexuality; at the same time, we will consider the ways in which all of these categories of identity are inflected by language, by regional and national forms of belonging and exclusion, and by the presence of “mixed-race” communities.