Fiber Optics: Textile Practice in French Literature and Art

R1A (Section 1) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Fall 2019
V. Bergstrom


Readings may include:

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Marie de France, “Guigemar”

Madame de Graffigny, Letters of a Peruvian Woman

Stéphane Mallarmé, Un coup de dés…

Georges Perec, W, or the Memory of Childhood

Julia Bryan Wilson, Frayed (excerpts)

The Textile Reader (excerpts)

Viewing list (works by):

Louise Bourgeois

Sonia Delaunay

Hannah Höch

Chris Marker

Annette Messager

Agnès Varda

Course Description:

In this course, we will be investigating the place of textile practice in French literature and art. In the first half of the course, we will read texts in which practices of weaving, stitching, knitting and knotting feature prominently. In the visual arts, we will focus on how textile work gets situated within and in exclusion from fine art contexts. Taking full account of the gendered and often racially-charged intersection of “arts and crafts” and fine art (domestic sphere vs. worldly sphere, indigenous practices as aesthetic objects), we will trace the relevance of the fiber arts to representations of female simplicity/complexity and to the material horizons for expression and recognition for women and racialized Others.

In addition to this thematic work, the second half of the course will transform our awareness of textile practices into reading strategies that will help us analyze texts and films whose complex structures can be productively approached through ideas of weaving, patching, pleating, etc.

This course is designed to fulfill the first half of the Reading and Composition requirement. The primary goal of this course is to develop students’ reading and writing skills through a series of assignments that will provide them with the opportunity to formulate observations made in class discussions into coherent argumentative essays. Emphasis will be placed on the refinement of effective sentence, paragraph, and thesis formation, keeping in mind the notion of writing as a process.

Additional Information:

Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes.  This includes all enrolled and wait listed students.  Students who do not attend all classes during the first two weeks may be dropped. Students attempting to add this class during weeks 1 and 2 who did not attend the first day will be expected to add themselves to the wait list and attend all class meetings thereafter.  If space permits,  they may be enrolled from the wait list.

French R1A satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes are conducted in ENGLISH

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes