top of page

Francophone Postcolonial Literature

This course series explores various ways in which authors hailing from mainland France, the Francophone Caribbean, the Maghreb, and West Africa have attempted to create a sense of the colonial historical past and understand its diverse legacies through literature and film. Readings for the course focus around key historical periods such as the building of the French colonial empire, slavery, the Haitian Revolution, the departmentalization of the French Caribbean, the decolonization of West Africa and their civil wars, the French-Algerian War and migrations to continental France. Primary texts include novels, films, autobiographical texts, and experimental fiction that will bring our focus to six themes: history and literary history, history as experience, poetics of history and the politics of history, socio-historical approaches to literature, the transcription of history in fiction, and the concept of collective memory. Authors include Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Yamina Benguigui, Assia Djebar, Patrick Chamoiseau, Azouz Begag, Ahmadou Kourouma, and Rachid Bouchareb.

Algerian Literature: Myths, Narratives, Memory 


Covering key periods of Algerian history (Antiquity, the Ottoman period, the French colonization of 1830 to 1962, the independence war [1964-1962], the emigration waves to France, the Algerian Civil War [1991-2002], the post-civil war), this course analyzes major works of Algerian literature in French. The general questions that guide our analysis include: how do Algerian writers and visual artists respond to both the hegemony of the French literary tradition as well as the Arabization policies of the Algerian State and the marginalization of Amazigh languages and cultures? How can we further “decolonize” the study of Algeria and dedicate a space for Algerian women writers to achieve visibility and foreground their experiences and ideas of Algeria? Readings include printed, visual, and oral sources which are complemented with readings of the colonial press and a critical bibliography in order to better understand the diverse history and complexity of the Algerian cultural landscape. Authors include, among others, Albert Camus, Assia Djebar, Leïla Sebbar, Kamel Daoud,  and Tahar Djaout.


Tales of Migration to France


This course studies fictional depictions of immigration into France from the late 19th century to the present. It aims to provide a critical understanding of migration as a theme and literary genre of French literature with a special emphasis on four migration waves: the Italian migrations of the 19th and early 20th century, the Spanish migrations of the 20th century, the postcolonial migrations from North and West Africa, and refugee narratives of the 2010s. Through the study of novels, theatre, film, and critical texts from a number of disciplines (art, history, sociology, political science) we will discuss concepts and theories of exile, postcolonialism, transnationalism, multiculturalism, immigrant integration, postmigration, third space, and intersectionality. Authors include Omar Benlaala, Calixthe Beyala, Marie Darrieussecq, Fatou Diome, Sylvie Garcia, Serge Valetti as well as press on immigrants from the 19th to today.  


French Love Stories 

This course series focuses on love as a theme and narrative device in French literature and visual culture from the early modern period to the present. The first semester covers narratives from late 16th century to the turn of 19th century and explores the tragedy of forbidden love, the rehabilitation of human passions of the Enlightenment, and various 18th century plays and novels. Our readings are complemented with philosophical and critical texts that aim to provide a renewed understanding of early modern Western European traditions of affects and feelings. The second semester covers narratives from the French Revolution to the 21st century and centers on the theme of modernity as a cultural and social process that continues to influence artistic representations of love as a feeling linked to contradictory emotions, an ideal of intersubjective relations, and a unique, life-changing experience. Readings for the course focus around key historical events such as the French Revolution of 1789, the urbanization, the world wars, decolonization, and contemporary events..

Image by Waldemar Brandt

Graphic Narratives  


This creative writing course offers a space for students who wish to produce fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or scriptwriting through graphic forms. The course is divided into four units. The first begins with an overview of key components of narrative theory (setting, temporality, discourse, voice, point-of-view, characters, rhetoric, action, conflict). It then moves to a discussion of the diverse forms of graphic narratives at large (comic-books, the graphic novel, albums, cartoons, and sequential photography). A selection of graphic novels will be analyzed with special regard to the narratives and aesthetics. The third unit focuses on workshops dedicated to the drafting of the narratives, including content research, story design, character development, and pictorial methods and tools. The final unit centers on the montage, production, and presentation of the students’ graphic narratives.


French Crime Fiction


Crime fiction is one of France's most popular literary genres. It encompasses detective fiction, heists, mysteries, suspense, espionage, police stories, among many other subgenres that attest to the flexibility and diversity of the genre. In this course, we study a selection of French crime narratives from the invention of genre in the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century and examine the historical, cultural, and political underpinnings directing the authors and the readers. What is the appeal of crime fiction? What are the major similarities and differences between classic and contemporary French narratives of crime? What can a study of crime fiction reveal about sociocultural anxieties, gender and race relations in France, and the interactions of fiction and reality? As we read closely works by authors that include, Eugène Sue, Maurice Leblanc, Didier Daeninckx, Fred Vargas, we will question the evolution of the genre, its conventions, tropes, as well as its adaptations in different historical contexts. The first part of the course concentrates on crime fiction from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, while the second part on the twentieth and twenty-first century.

bottom of page