AB, University of Chicago. MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. Area of specialization: 20th-century French literature. Dissertation on secret societies and conspiracies in interwar French literature. Research interests include 19th- and 20th-century French literature and cultural history, literature and politics, history and theory of the novel, and the avant-garde. SLC, 2012–
Current undergraduate courses
This course is designed for students who have studied some French in the past but wish to review the fundamentals of French language and grammar before venturing into the study of complex literary texts in French. The course has two objectives. First, students will pursue an intense, fast-paced, and thorough revision of the fundamentals of French grammar, composition, and conversation. Students will be encouraged to write multiple short essays and participate in oral class activities and will be exposed to various kinds of documents in French (songs, movies, paintings, etc.). Second, we will work on techniques of literary study and discussion in French. Our focus will be on short texts from the French and francophone worlds. We will read a selection of fables, tales, short stories, prose poems, journalistic essays, and one-act plays written in French. By the end of the year, students will be able to discuss these texts using basic tools and concepts in French. Conferences will be individual, allowing students to pursue their interests in any area of French and francophone literatures and cultures. In addition to conferences, a weekly conversation session with a French language assistant(e) is required. Attendance at the weekly French lunch table and French film screenings are both highly encouraged. Students who successfully complete a beginning- and an intermediate-level French course are eligible to study in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.
This Intermediate II French course is designed for students who already have a strong understanding of the major aspects of French grammar and language but wish to develop their vocabulary and their grasp of more complex aspects of the language. Students are expected to be able to easily read more complex texts and to express themselves more abstractly. A major part of the course will be devoted to the study and discussion of literary texts in French. “Question your soupspoons”: In this challenge to his readers, Georges Perec summed up, in his unique manner, a particular strain of 20th-century French letters, one that seeks to turn literature’s attention away from the extraordinary, the scandalous, and the strange toward an examination of the ordinary makeup of everyday life. This course will examine some of the aesthetic and theoretical challenges that the representation of the quotidian entails. Does the everyday hide infinite depths of discovery, or does its value lie precisely in its superficiality? How do spaces influence our experience of everyday life? How can (and should) literature give voice to experiences and objects that normally appear undeserving of attention? How does one live one’s gender on an everyday basis? Can one ever escape from everyday life? We will review fundamentals of French grammar and speaking and develop tools for analysis through close readings of literary texts. Students will be encouraged to develop tools for the examination and representation of their own everyday lives in order to take up Perec’s call to interrogate the habitual. Readings will include texts by Proust, Breton, Aragon, Leiris, Perec, Queneau, Barthes, the Situationists, Ernaux, and Calle. The Intermediate I and II French courses are specially designed to help prepare students for studying in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year.
“Hell is other people,” famously declares Garcin at the end of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, No Exit. Perhaps no other line from 20th-century French literature has been so often quoted, appropriated, and misread as this proclamation on the fundamental relationship between self and the other. The statement’s popularity has contributed to a received image of Sartre as the standard bearer of a literature of angst, an avatar of antisociability. Yet this popular vision is often at odds with Sartre’s position as the preeminent public intellectual of postwar France, an author who thrust himself into public life by actively engaging with authors, philosophers, and politicians alike. In attempting to understand this apparent tension, this course will proceed in two directions. First, we will study Sartre’s major works of theatre, prose, and philosophy in order to better understand some of the central components of his own thought and writing, such as absurdity, bad faith, nausea, and committed literature. Second, we will read Sartre’s work in conjunction with, and in opposition to, other writers, including Camus, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Sarraute, Beckett, Genet, Césaire, Fanon, Bataille, and Barthes. We will focus, in particular, on those writers about whom Sartre wrote in his literary criticism, essays, and biographies in order to place Sartre among the literary trends of his time. Throughout the course, we will pay close attention to the following subjects: existentialism, the absurd, allegory, politics and literature, the antinovel, feminism, anticolonialism and antiracism. In this course, students will review the finer points of French grammar, improve their writing skills through regular assignments, and develop tools for literary analysis and commentary.