COURSE OUTLINE AND SYLLABUS COURSE NAME: THE FRENCH NOVEL
COURSE NUMBER: 08-403
PREREQUISITES: French 303-304
COURSE CREDIT HOURS: 3
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Ladji Sacko
Office Hours as Posted
Tel. # (302) 857-6598
Fax # (302) 857-7597
TEXTBOOKS AND READINGS MATERIALS:
Emile Zola, Germinal
Balzac, La Peau de Chagrin
Other brief texts from other novels of Balzac and Zola for explication from:
Musset, La Confession d’un enfant du siècle.
Flaubert, Madame Bovary.
Stendhal, Le Rouge et le Noir.
Baguley, David. Naturalist Fiction: The Entropic Vision.
Harvey, Lawrence E. “The Cycle Myth in La Terre of Zola,” Philological Quarterly 38 (1959): 89-95.
Kamm, Lewis. The Object in Zola’s “Rougon-Macquart.”
Petrey, Sandy. “From Cyclical to Historical Discourse: The Contes a Ninon and La Fortune des Rougon,” University of Ottawa 48 (1978): 371-81.
Ripoll, Roger. Realite et mythe chez Zola.
Schor, Naomi. “Zola: From Window to Window,” Yale French Studies 42 (1969): 38-51.
Van Buuren, Maarten. “Les Rougon-Macquart” d’Emile Zola: de la metaphore au mythe.
Walker, Philip D. “Germinal” and Zola’s Philosophical and Religious Thought.
______________. “Prophetic Myths in Zola, “PMLA” 74 (1959): 444-52.
C. Brosman, Nineteenth-Century French Writers
R. Girard, Mensonge romantique et Verite Romanesque
H. Levin, The Gates of Horn
A. Pasco, Novel Configurations
S. Petrey, Realism and Revolution
G. Poulet, Studies in Human Time
________. Metamorphosis of the Circle
M. Turnell, The Novel in France
_________. The Art of French Fiction
I. COURSE DESCRIPTION: Representative works of authors from the 17th Century to the 20th Century. Class conducted in French.
This course begins with the understanding that the novel is a narrative in prose dealing with people and their actions, in a certain time, and in a certain space, all of which conveys a certain vision on the part of the author. The course is based on the commanding effectiveness of bibliography and its ability to lend historical lineage, credibility, and justification to our understanding and interpretation of fiction.
With these concerns in mind, the course seeks to introduce you to the major works and authors of the French Novel of the 19th century and to expand your critical vocabulary in literary analysis—but not by requiring whirlwind readings and a rapid survey of perhaps a half-dozen novels. Rather, the course seeks to achieve these goals through numerous oral and written explanations of texts and by involving you in a mode of literary scholarship called “the present reserve readings,” which, for illustrative purposes, will focus on time in the work of Emile Zola.
This approach will provide us examples of the precise kinds of central issues, themes, and still unanswered questions that (a) rest at the foundation of the interconnecting elements of virtually any novelist’s work, (b) exemplify the richness of non-theoretical approaches to literature, (c) provide an orientation for a couple of brief lectures from me, numerous explications of text by all of us, and presentations and reviews by you of specific chapters or articles from the “reserve readings” bibliography, and (d) the return to which in the many other writers whom we love to read and to teach can expand and heighten the literary experience for you; in this regard, only representative texts, rather than complete works, of additional authors will be required.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK COMPONENTS ADDRESSED IN THIS COURSE DIRECT (TEP) D= DIVERSITY
T= TECHNOLOGY III. RESPONSIBILITIES/COURSE OBJECTIVES/OUTCOMES: Objectives: -To introduce students to the major works and authors of the French Novel of the 19th century;
-To expand the students’ critical vocabulary in literary analysis;
-To introduce students to the contributions of 17th-20th century French Literature to our understanding of the novel;
-To introduce students to various techniques used in the French novel from the 17th-20th centuries;
-To give students the opportunity to demonstrate through oral presentations as well as papers their understanding of the course contents.
Responsibilities: * Attendance-because of the seminar format of the course, no more than two absences are allowed. Three or more absences may constitute grounds for a semester F;
* This course requires each of you to submit four text explications of 2-4 pages each. Two must be on Germinal, one on La Peau de Chagrin and one on any text of your choosing from the remaining primary reading. See the “Explications de texte” section below;
* “Reserved Readings” report: select a chapter or article from “Reserve Readings” list and present a brief (not less than 5 minutes) report to the class on the author’s main thesis and ideas, their relationship to our ongoing discussions, and your own evaluation of the reading. Specific due dates will be determined in class;
* Paper: approximately 6-8 pages in length, the paper may be drawn from some aspect(s) of your “explications de texte” and/or oral presentation, though this is not required. In any event, topics must specifically deal with one of the five main areas of the genre of the novel—narrative technique, people and their actions, time, space, and vision—as applied to one of the novels from the class readings.
Note: I do not expect the paper to be a major research project. However, I do expect it to show some awareness of and reference to at least a couple of secondary sources.
GRADES Your grades are based on class participation, “explications de texte,” “reserved readings” presentation, and final paper—all with regard to the evaluative areas of intent, reasoning, language and variety of vocabulary, neatness, effort, and accuracy. As a rule, I do not accept late work. Nor do I give “Incompletes” except in very unusual circumstances and even then only if I believe that the work can be profitable completed in a reasonable amount of time.
Week 1: Introduction-Course conception, biography, writing requirements, required use of World Wide Web and email, lecture on time, history, and myth in Emile Zola.
Week 2: Germinal, Part I Zola’s depiction of men, women, and things in a single family and precise socio-historical milieu, a corner of nature seen through his individual temperament; similarities and differences between realism and naturalism; discussion of the mimetic and performative aspects of narrative and of the extent to which the author’s literary expression of history and human experience constitutes poetic transubstantiations of reality; close reading of Zola’s use of technical vocabulary, emphasis on color, impressionist technique of writing, hypertrophy of detail, changing points of view, and descriptive and philosophical evocation of linear and circular conceptions of time and horizontal and vertical space in the novel; relationships between Zola’s descriptive techniques and impressionist and surrealist painters’ fascination with (in) tangible reality, representation and perception, appreciation of the modern, animism, color, tone, atmosphere, and light.
Week 3: Germinal, Part II Metaphors of capital versus labor; reification of the workers; doubt, faith, will, and reasoning of the miners and capitalists in the face of the social, political, and economic issues confronting them; comparison with Balzac’s realism and distinction between Zola’s “morality in action” (“morale en action”) and the Balzacian character’s “stock exchange value on moral principles” (“morale en actions”).
Week 4: Germinal, Part III Nine-month gestation period of the strike; the fair-day; poetry, corruption, and sexuality; mob psychology; Zola’s presumed renunciation of individually developed characters and relationship of this feature to narrative techniques employed by Balzac and by “new novelists” of the 20th century; thematic and narrative functions of Etienne, Rasseneur, and Souvarine; fatalism and determinism; relationships between concrete reality and creative image-making in narration and painting, reconciliation of representation and perception; Daumier, Degas, Monet and Magritte: depictions of the wretched and starving, tangible atmosphere in light, intangible images, visual and verbal descriptions based on or distinct from reality; Zola’s “leap into the stars from the trampoline of exact observation; truth takes flight into the realm of the symbol.”
Week 5: Germinal, Part IV Zola’s complex, constantly shifting vision of history and class struggle; social and economic dissolution of the miners, consumed by their productivity’s lack of rewards or food; fusion of the “two beasts” of labor and capital; evolving meaning of “germinal” in relation to history and myth; links between Zola’s descriptive techniques and cinematic techniques; artistic blend of the elements of romanticism, realism, and surrealism.
Week 6: Germinal, Part V Zola’s descriptive techniques on film: selected scenes from Rene Clements’s adaptation of L’Assommoir and Renoir’s adaptation of La Bete humaine; Explication of the horizontal and vertical dimensions of hell; descriptions of Tartaret and Germinal as a geological novel; mob violence and the vision of an antediluvian revolution evoking geological time; unanimism and the novel.
Week 7: Germinal, Part VI Artistic blend of elements of romanticism, realism, symbolism, and surrealism; death in every chapter of what Zola described as this “work of pity”; social cooperation, anarchy, and romantic humanitarianism; comparison of descriptive techniques in Germinal and those in representative texts from Le Ventre de Paris, L’Assommoir, and Au Bonheur des Dames. Week 8: Germinal, Part VII The mine, finally wounded and collapsing in its death throes, counterpointed by the miners, themselves seen as animals, the human figure submerged into the natural; comparison between the novel’s opening and closing chapters; the end as beginning; similarities and differences between our interpretations of the work and Zola’s own explanation of the novel as revealed in his preparatory manuscripts, correspondence, and newspaper articles; the novel as an example of twentieth-century French “literature of involvement.”
Week 9: Lecture on Time & Ennui in the 19th Century Novel. Close of selected texts from Rene, La Confession d’un enfant du siecle, Madame Bovary, and Le Rouge et le noir. Week 10: La Peau de Chagrin, pp. 58-82 Balzac’s prefaces to The Human Comedy and La Peau de Chagrin; his “human zoology” and treatment of men, women, and things in relation to morals and manners, character types, Catholicism, and the monarchy, all constituting a material representation of the “thought” of contemporary society; the novel as “la formule de la vie humaine, abstraction faite des individualites…le point de depart de tout mon ouvrage (…ou) je suivrai les effets de la pensee dans la vie.” Textual explication of descriptions of the gambling house and the curiosity shop; gambling and speculation, labor and capital, art as art or commodity, and the individual, social order and social repression; geological conception of time; patterns of antithesis and alternation; interrelationship of author, narrator, and reader.
Week 11: La Peau de Chagrin, pp.82-125 Balzac’s definition of “thought”; parallels among Descartes’s” Je pense, donc je suis,” and the Balzacian dilemma, life-in-death or death-in-life, as developed in his characters’ thought, ennui, will, power, and knowledge; Raphael’s infernal contract with the skin; color reading of descriptive vocabulary, verb tenses, stylistic features, rhythm, and expressive words in representative passages from Le Pere Goriot, Illusions Perdues, and Eugenie Grandet will highlight temporal and other meanings of the skin and the relationship between the “philosophical studies” and the social studies” of The Human Comedy. Week 12: La Peau de Chagrin, pp. 127-214 Discussion of the extent to Balzac practices his theories; journalism, prostitution, and gambling; variations of the Rabelaisian theme of drunkenness with life; role of education vis-à-vis the individual in society; consumption and production in art and economics; “theory of will” and “theory of fortune”; the novel’s historical resonance and the characters’ discussions of monarchy, freedom, and despotism; Raphael’s personal psychology, family, and sexuality; social and economic dissolution of the individual; degree to which language in the novel remains capable of expressing thought and reality; narration and autobiography as art or orgy of words.
Week 13: La Peau de Chagrin, pp. 214-314 Close thematic relationship of the novel to such contemporary problems as conformity to a deterministic, amoral world in which the individual is reduced to nothingness, the assertion of individuality and the resultant self-destruction as a social being, social responsibility, absolute relativism and subjectivism, divorce of morality from good will, acceptance of materialistic utilitarianism, destruction of ethical universals; time and rhythm as narrative features that are both romantic and realistic; significance of geological imagery of Mont Dore and Zola’s Tartaret; comparison between concluding and opening pages; the beginning as end and the end as beginning; authorial and reader interpretations of Pauline and Foedora.
Week 14: Individual Conferences Week 15: 2:00 p.m.: Papers due in my office or via email attachments.
V. EXPLICATIONS DE TEXTE
As indicated above, this course requires each of you to submit four 2-4 pages “explications de texte.” They are to be submitted electronically by 11:00 a.m. of the day prior to the class in which the related passage will be discussed, thus giving everyone else the chance to read one another’s work prior to class discussion. The three-fold purpose of this sharing is to:
Promote a professional environment of constructive criticism;
Encourage responsible, serious and professional commentary;
Make it possible for students to follow up one another’s comments and engage in further discussion privately or collectively.
You may submit and read essays either by email or in class. Usually, my evaluative comments about these essays will be addressed on an individual basis, thus safeguarding privacy and student sensitivity while also allowing the individual to share those comments with classmates as (s)he sees fit. However, when I believe that my comments to an individual will be helpful to all students, I will share with the rest of the class.
RELATED ITEMS OF INTEREST
Explications de Texte
World of Things French This is probably the best resource available!