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SPRING 2014: 

French 402 in LIBR-330 (MWF 12:30-13:35): 

Modern French Literature

Prof: Mark Jensen 
Office: ADMN-220 
Phone: (253) 535-7219 
E-mail: jensenmk@plu.edu 
Web page: www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/ 
Office hours: 
M 2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m., W & F 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

This syllabus is available on the web: https://sites.google.com/a/plu.edu/french-402-spring-2014/


Materials

Required purchase:

  • Carton, Jean-Paul. Poésie française : Premiers exercices d'analyse. Peter Lang, 1998; ISBN: 9780820440545.
  • Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Gallimard/Folio Classique, 2001; ISBN 9782070413119.
  • Rimbaud, Arthur.  Poésies ; Une saison en enfer ; Illuminations.  Larousse/Folio Classique, 1999; ISBN 9782070409006.
  • Sand, George.  La mare au diable.  Gallimard/Folio Classique, 1999; ISBN 9782070411214.

 

Course goals

This course will study French literature of the nineteenth century, with a focus on poetry and the novel.  In the first half of the course, frankly experimental, you will be a member of a poetic atelier (or poet's workshop) that introduces you to the close analysis of French poetry and culminates in a preliminary investigation of the achievement of Arthur Rimbaud, France's famous rebel outlaw teenage poet.  You will also try your hand at writing some French verse of your own.  Most of the second half of the course will be an examination of Flaubert's Madame Bovary, considered primarily from two perspectives— (1) Flaubert's, as reflected in his correspondence; and (2) Jean-Paul Sartre's, as evidenced in the opening of Sartre's unfinished masterwork, L'idiot de la famille. The course will conclude with an attempt to tie together these apparently disparate approaches to the French literature of the nineteenth century around the theme Au fond de l'inconnu pour trouver du nouveau !, revisiting Baudelaire and Rimbaud through texts that evoke this theme.

In the "poetic atelier" half of the course you will begin by working through Prof. Carton's introduction to French poetry, which uses as an example Charles Baudelaire's « La cloche fêlée ».  Then you'll apply the notions Carton introduces in the close analysis of six more poems by Alfred de Musset, Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, Leconte de Lisle, and Baudelaire (again), using Prof. Carton's meticulous exercices as a guide.  At the same time, you'll learn something about the life, work, reputation, and importance of each writer from entries in the Le Robert des grands écrivains de langue française (Le Robert, 2000), distribued in class.  Midway through this atelier, you'll choose a short poem by Rimbaud and spend several weeks developing exercises to assist in its analysis, exercises that are similiar to those devised by Caron.  Just before the midterm, you'll present your exercises to the class and guide us through a reading of the poem.  You'll also explore the myth of Rimbaud, watching in class "Total Eclipse," Agnieszka Holland's 1995 film about the relationship of Rimbaud and the poet Paul Verlaine.  The first half of the class will conclude with a midterm exam on March 21.

In the second half of the course, you'll read George Sand's La mare au diable, then spend four weeks reading Madame Bovary.  As you read Flaubert's classic, you'll also read both letters written by Flaubert (some of them to George Sand) and passages from Sartre's L'idiot de la famille.  At the conclusion of the course, you'll reengage with the notion of poetry and larger questions of aesthetic philosophy by studying the Baudelairean theme Au fond de l'inconnu pour trouver du nouveau ! as it appears in Les fleurs du mal, some of Baudelaire's other writings, and in Rimbaud. 

In addition, each Friday we'll look at a brief critical or theoretical text that focuses on the reader and the act of reading, taken from a recent anthology by Nadine Toursel and Jacques Vassevière, Littérature : textes théoriques et critiques. You should find these critical perspectives useful in drawing together the different strands of the course.

In the second half of the course you will write a research paper about Gustave Flaubert and Madame Bovary or about George Sand and La mare au diable or about both.  This paper, written in French, should be at least 8 pages in length (2000-2500 words), and is due in class on the final day of the course (May 16), when you will also discuss your conclusions with the class..

There will be frequent short reading quizzes to encourage you to keep up with the reading in the class. (Only the best 75% of your grades will count toward your final grade, however.)

A few more words about the goals of French 402:  these derive from the fact that literary study engages an array of cultural traditions that use the creative resources of language to explore the entire range of human experience.  The practice of reading literary texts exercises your imagination, cultivates your capacity for understanding ambiguity and complexity, and can instill in you a sensitivity to the diversities of human existence.  Literary study also builds your skills of analytical and interpretive argument and helps you become a more creative and critical writer.  Along the way, you accumulate much miscellaneous knowledge about important authors, notable literary works, their constitutive features, rhetorical figures essential to the sophisticated use of language like metaphor and irony, literary allusions that contribute to literary meaning and the flavor and tone of historical periods.  Your ability to understand conventions and symbols and how they function in literary works of a particular tradition is enhanced when you study different genres of literature, and your ability to differentiate form from content in literary works and explain how these are interrelated and to describe the formal characteristics of works are developed.  Ultimately, you gain the ability to explore and appreciate critical perspectives on literary works and related general cultural and social movements that have influenced not only the form and content of literary works but human lives, so that you can appraise their influence.  It is perhaps too much to hope that you will go far toward comparing different critical interpretations and their merits, but it is reasonable to expect you to gain a greater awareness of the ways literary works convey and subvert meaning at multiple levels.  Your glimpses into how critical terminology has developed in grappling with problems of interpretation, and to understanding some of the factors involved in the change of critical paradigms will make you a more alert, sensitive observer of changes and movements in your own fast-moving culture.  This sensitivity will help you compose interpretive critical responses to works of literature of your own (for what distinguishes great or enduring literature is its capacity to speak to readers far removed in time and space from its origins).  All of these activities will further your pursuit of Integrated Learning Objectives (ILOs) that the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University have identified by fostering your critical reflection and skills of expression and interaction.  And it goes without saying, of course, that your work in this class will also further develop your ability to speak and write correctly, effectively, and authentically in French; to deepen your mastery of elements of grammar essential to communicating effectively in French; to enlarge your vocabulary in French; to enhance the accuracy of your French pronunciation; and to make you more aware of the cultural, social, and intellectual dimensions of communication in French.

Class reading schedule

Wed., Feb. 5

[Syllabus.]

Fri., Feb. 7

Carton, Poésie française, 1-11 & 21-26 (exercises prepared but not handed in).  —  Critical reading: Hans Robert Jauss, « Une perception guidée », Pour une esthétique de la réception.

Mon., Feb. 10

Carton, 12-20 & 26-30. — Due in classA rhymed couplet consisting of two alexandrins.

Wed., Feb. 12

Carton, 67-74 on Musset, « Tristesse » (exercises to C.3.4) and the first section of the article on Musset ( «  Des dons et des douleurs », pp. 926-29) in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française.

Fri., Feb. 14

Carton, 74-80 on Musset, « Tristesse » (all other exercises), the second and third sections of the article on Musset ( «  Le goût de l'image » and « Une postérité contrastée », pp. 929-30) in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française, and Paul Bénichou, Romantismes français, tome 2 (Gallimard, 2004), 1565-66 & 1660 (originally published in L'école du désenchantement [1992]).  —  Critical reading: Jean-Marie Goulemot, Le hors-texte, « De la lecture comme production de sens », Pratiques de la lecture.

Mon., Feb. 17

No class: Presidents' Day.

Wed., Feb. 19

Carton, 81-90 on Hugo, « Demain, dès l'aube . . . » (all exercises) and pages 596-99 of the article on Hugo in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française.

Fri., Feb. 21

Carton, 91-95 on Hugo, « Mors » (exercises to B.2) and pages 599-604 of the article on Hugo in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française.  —  Critical reading: Italo Calvino, Un univers de signes, Si par une nuit d'hiver un voyageur.

Mon., Feb. 24

Carton, 96-102 on Hugo, « Mors » (other exercises) and the description of one of Hugo's works described on pages 605-11 (your choice) in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française. — Due in class:  A rhymed quatrain consisting of four alexandrins.

Wed., Feb. 26

Carton, 103-10 on Gautier, « L'art » (exercises to A.4.2) and the article on Gautier in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française (pp. 504-07).

Fri., Feb. 28

Carton, 111-20 on Gautier, « L'art » (other exercises).  —  Critical reading: Roland Barthes, « La tâche critique [...] est purement formelle », Essais critiques.

Mon., Mar. 3

Carton, 121-27 on Leconte de Lisle, « Le rêve du jaguar » (exercises to B.2.2) and the article on Leconte de Lisle in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française (pp. 742-44).  —  Due in class: Two rhymed quatrains consisting of a total of eight alexandrins.

Wed., Mar. 5

Carton, 127-34 on Leconte de Lisle, « Le rêve du jaguar » (other exercises).

Fri., Mar. 7

Carton, 135-40 on Baudelaire, « Correspondances » (exercises to B.2.2) and the first four pages (126-29) of the article on Baudelaire in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française.  —  Critical reading: Umberto Eco, Le « texte "fermé" » et ses lectures, Lector in fabula.

Mon., Mar. 10

Carton, 141-47 on Baudelaire, « Correspondances » (other exercises) and the next three pages (129-32) of the article on Baudelaire in Le Robert des grand écrivains de langue française.  —  Due in class: A sonnet in alexandrins.

Wed., Mar. 12

In class: Viewing of the first part of "Total Eclipse."

Fri., Mar. 14

First student presentation of a poem by Rimbaud.  —  Critical reading: Hans Robert Jauss, La réception de Madame Bovary, Pour une esthétique de la réception.   —  In class: Viewing of the second part of "Total Eclipse."

Mon., Mar. 17

Second student presentation of a poem by Rimbaud.  —  In class: Viewing of the third part of "Total Eclipse."

Wed., Mar. 19

Third presentation of a poem by Rimbaud.  —  In class: Viewing of the fourth part of "Total Eclipse."

Fri., Mar. 21

MIDTERM EXAM.

Mar. 22-30

No class: Spring break.

Mon., Mar. 31

Sand, La mare au diable, ch. 1-5.

Wed., Apr. 2

Sand, La mare au diable, ch. 6-11.

Fri., Apr. 4

Sand, La mare au diable, ch. 12-17.  —  Critical readings: (1) Marcel Proust, Une oeuvre nouvelle exige un travail de lecteur, Le côté de Guermantes, & (2) James Wood, How Fiction Works (2008), §§29-33.

Mon., Apr. 7

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, I, i-v, Flaubert's letter of Mar. 18, 1857, to Mlle Leroyer de Chantepie, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 13-16.

Wed., Apr. 9

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, I, vi-ix, Flaubert's letter of Jan. 14, 1852, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 16-19.

Fri., Apr. 11

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, II, i-iv, Flaubert's letter of Dec. 17, 1852, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 19-23.  —  Critical reading: Paul Valéry, « La forme seule conserve les oeuvres de l'esprit », « Victor Hugo créateur par la forme », Variété

Mon., Apr. 14

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, II, v-vii, Flaubert's letter of Jun. 28-29, 1853, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 23-28.
—  In class:  Turn in a paragraph describing your research paper, as described in the class handout of Mar. 31.

Wed., Apr. 16

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, II, viii-ix, Flaubert's letter of Dec. 23, 1853, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 28-32.

Fri., Apr. 18

No class: Good Friday (Vendredi Saint).

Mon., Apr. 21

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, II, x-xii, Flaubert's letter of Apr. 7, 1854, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 32-37.

Wed., Apr. 23

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, II, xiii-xv, Flaubert's letter of Dec. 9, 1852, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 37-43.

Fri., Apr. 25

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, III, i-iv, Flaubert's letter of Mar. 20-21, 1852, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 43-47.  —  Critical reading: Italo Calvino, La lecture des classiques, La machine littéraire.

Mon., Apr. 28

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, III, v-vi, Flaubert's letter of Jul. 22, 1852, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 47-51.

Wed., Apr. 30

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, III, vii-viii, Flaubert's letter of Jan. 15, 1853, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 51-54.

Fri., May 2

Flaubert, Madame Bovary, III, ix-xi, Flaubert's letter of Jun. 25-26, 1853, to Louise Colet, and Sartre, L'idiot de la famille, pp. 54-61.  —  Critical reading: Marcel Proust, « Les belles formes de langage abolies », « Journées de lecture », Pastiches et mélanges.

Mon., May 5

Baudelaire, « Le voyage ».

Wed., May 7

Baudelaire, « Peintre de la vie moderne », §§1, 2, & 5.

Fri., May 9

Baudelaire, « Peintre de la vie moderne », §§9-11.  —  Critical reading: Antoinin Artaud, Au théâtre, « une expression ne vaut pas deux fois », « En finir avec les chefs-d'oeuvre », Le théâtre et son double.

Mon., May 12

Rimbaud, Lettre à Paul Démeny (May 15, 1871), in Poésies ; Une saison en enfer ; Illuminations, pp. 85-95.

Wed., May 14

Rimbaud, « Aube », in Poésies ; Une saison en enfer ; Illuminations, pp. 228-29.

Fri., May 16

Final presentations and review.
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Calculation of grades

Your grade will be determined as follows:

  • 25% Reading quizzes (best three fourths)
  • 5% French verse
  • 10% Analytical exercises and class presentation
  • 20% Final research paper
  • 15% Midterm exam
  • 25% Final exam (date and time TBA).

NOTE: Students must not cheat or plagiarize, and they must not condone these behaviors or assist others who plagiarize.  In work in a foreign language, this includes reliance on machine (i.e. computer) translation.  Academic misconduct jeopardizes the career of the individual student involved, and also undermines the scholastic achievements of all PLU students in the sense that it attacks the mission of this institution.  Students are responsible for doing their own work, thereby insuring the integrity of their academic records.  In addition, civil conversation is central to the university's academic enterprise and guided by faculty expertise.  The university is committed to protecting the rights of community members to engage in dialogue and express ideas in an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination, and exploitation.  This freedom of expression does not, however, entail the freedom to threaten, stalk, intimidate, harass, or abuse.  Students are therefore expected to treat every individual with respect and civility.  (See Student Code of Conduct, p. 12)  An additional note:  If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.  If you have questions concerning the services available for students with disabilities at PLU, please contact the Office of Disability Support Services, x7206.

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