Show The Graduate Center Menu



Fall 2020 - Course Description

French 87400 - Colonial Encounters                         
Professor Nathalie Etoké

Thursday, 4:15pm -6:15pm
Taught in French (2/4 credits)
Historically, the relationship between France and Africa has been characterized by a permanent tension. We will use literature and film to reflect on the historical events and, socio-political processes that have shaped the encounter between France and Africa. How are African novelists and filmmakers responding to this relationship? Topics include: the Colonial Encounter, World War II, Decolonization and Immigration.
French 86200 – Theater Without Drama: In Search of a Contemporary French Tradition.
Professor Amin Erfani

Tuesday, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Taught in English (2/4 credits)
This course provides an overview of 20th & 21st century French and Francophone theater and its theories. Following the emergence of photography and cinema as new art forms, the rise of avant-garde movements questions the notion of “drama” as a discipline and that of “representation” as its founding principle. Simultaneously, modern theater reflects society’s inverted image in challenging concepts of cultural and national identity, while giving voice to anti-heroes, the social destitute, and sexual and gender minorities. From a historical standpoint, the class will examine the crucial impact of France’s “théâtre public” on the dramatic genre at large. In addition, philosophical and psychoanalytic theories of theater will inform our reading of seminal works of modern and contemporary playwrights. The discussion will reframe modern theater as breaking away from the dramatic, psychological, and cathartic models of the prior centuries. In doing so, modern theater rediscovers its ancient origins in ritual, choral, and monologist forms. While acknowledging the recent “post-dramatic” perspective undercutting the text as a central medium, we will investigate emerging forms of writing that prove to be as transformative for the theater as its new-found taste for multidisciplinary staging, performance art, and new media.
French 83000 - The Nation and its Other: France and Frenchness in the Age of Louis the XIV
Professor Domna Stanton

Tuesday, 4:15-6:15pm
Taught in English (2/4 credits)
This course will begin by questioning the view that the nation is born after l789. We will consider a set of criteria for nationhood and examine the efforts of Louis XIV and his ministers to transform France into a nation state with one monarch, one law and one faith; a centralized political and cultural structure; physical boundaries/borders, and a dominating linguistic idiom.
However, our principal focus will be the idea that a nation forges an inside by creating an outside, that is, by excluding a set of groups or people. To be sure, that enterprise is doomed to fail since the outside (the other) invariably mixes with or constitutes the necessary supplement to the inside, contrary to proclaimed ideology.  Moreover, in late 17th-century France, even insiders, such as members of the  noblesse d’épée, felt marginalized in an absolutistic monarchy, and invoked the idea of the nation over and against tyrannical Louis XIV.
The seminar will be devoted to considering five different others: the others within – a religious other (Jews); the gendered other (women); a sexual other (the sodomite) in a nation of reputedly virile Franks. The two others outside we will study are the oriental/Ottoman Turk; and the African slave transported to the French Caribbean.
Readings will include work on the nation by Anderson, Foucault and Balibar; on the early modern nation by Hampton, Bell, Sahlins and Yardeni;  historical documents, such as Salic Law and the Black Code; and primary readings by Corneille, Molière, Louis XIV, Perrault, Picard, Racine, Saint Simon;  Prideaux, Baudier and Tavernier on the Ottomans; Dufour, du Tertre, and Labat on slaves; and relevant critical texts.
Over and beyond readings and class participation, work for the course will include a presentation in class on a primary text. Those taking the course for 4 credits will also produce a 25-page research paper on some aspect of early-modern nationhood and othering to be determined in consultation with the instructor. For those taking the course for 3 credits, the paper will be no longer than 10-13 pp. Those taking the course for two credits will prepare a written version of the presentation they do in class (5-7 pp.). All students will take the final exam.
For any questions, please contact Domna Stanton (
French 77010 – Techniques of Literary Research
Professor Nathalie Etoké

Wednesday, 4:15pm-6:15pm
Taught in French (4 credits only)
 This mandatory course is open only to first-year students.

 87500- Independent Study
 Distinguished Professor Mary Ann Caws
 Monday, 4:15pm – 6:00pm 
 1 Credit
 We will be discussing the general topics of translation/interpretation and  also omission/obsession