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Literature > French Literature

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The Pedagogical Imagination Cover

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The Pedagogical Imagination

The Republican Legacy in Twenty-First-Century French Literature and Film

Leon Sachs

French school debates of recent years, which are simultaneously debates about the French Republic’s identity and values, have generated a spate of internationally successful literature and film on the topic of education. While mainstream media and scholarly essays tend to treat these works as faithful representations of classroom reality, The Pedagogical Imagination takes a different approach.
In this study of French education and republicanism as represented in twenty-first-century French literature and film, Leon Sachs shifts our attention from “what” literature and film say about education to “how” they say it. He argues that the most important literary and filmic treatments of French education in recent years—the works of Agnès Varda, Érik Orsenna, Abdellatif Kechiche, François Bégaudeau—do more than merely depict the present-day school crisis. They explore questions of education through experiments with form.

The Pedagogical Imagination shows how such techniques engage present-day readers and viewers in acts of interpretation that reproduce pedagogical principles of active, experiential learning—principles at the core of late nineteenth-century educational reform that became vehicles for the diffusion of republican ideology.


 

 

Playing at Monarchy Cover

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Playing at Monarchy

Sport as Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century France

Corry Cropper

For centuries sports have been used to mask or to uncover important social and political problems, and there is no better example of this than France during the nineteenth century, when it changed from monarchy to empire to republic. Prior to the French Revolution, sports and games were the exclusive domain of the nobility. The revolution, however, challenged the notion of noble privilege, and leisure activities began spreading to all levels of society. Games either evolved from Old Regime spectacles into bourgeois pastimes, such as hunting, or died out altogether, as did trictrac. During this period, sports and games became the symbolic cultural battlefield of an emerging modern state.

Playing at Monarchy looks at the ways sports and games (tennis, fencing, bullfighting, chess, trictrac, hunting, and the Olympics) are metaphorically used to defend and subvert, to praise and mock both class and political power structures in nineteenth-century France. Corry Cropper examines what shaped these games of the nineteenth-century and how they appeared as allegory in French literature (in the fiction of Balzac, Mérimée, and Flaubert), and in newspapers, historical studies, and even game manuals. Throughout, he shows how the representation of play in all types of literature mirrors the most important social and political rifts in postrevolutionary France, while also serving as propaganda for competing political agendas. Though its focus is on France, Playing at Monarchy hints at the way these nineteenth-century developments inform perceptions of sport even today.

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The Powers of the False

Reading, Writing, Thinking beyond Truth and Fiction

Doro Wiese

Can literature make it possible to represent histories that are otherwise ineffable? Making use of the Deleuzian concept of "the powers of the false," Doro Wiese offers readings of three novels that deal with the Shoah, with colonialism, and with racialized identities. She argues that Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish, and Richard Powers's The Time of Our Singing are novels in which a space for unvoiced, silent, or silenced difference is created. Seen through the lens of Deleuze and his collaborators' philosophy, literature is a means for mediating knowledge and affects about historical events. Going beyond any simple dichotomy between true and untrue accounts of what "really" happened in the past, literature's powers of the false incite readers to long for a narrative space in which painful or shameful stories can be included.

Problématiques identitaires et discours de l'exil dans les littératures francophones Cover

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Problématiques identitaires et discours de l'exil dans les littératures francophones

Sous la direction de Anissa Talahite-Moodley

De quelle manière s’est transformée l’idée d’appartenance à une culture, une nation ou une ethnie particulière ? Peut-on encore parler d’ « exil » dans le contexte de cultures transnationales et d’identités plurielles ? Y a-t-il une écriture de l’exil ? Cet ouvrage cherche des réponses à ces questions à travers le regard nouveau que portent les écrivains francophones contemporains sur les problématiques identitaires. Un groupe international d’universitaires s’est penché sur des œuvres d’auteurs francophone d’origines diverses – africaine, antillaise, canadienne, chinoise, maghrébine, libanaise, russe pour n’en citer qu’une partie – pour y interpréter le « discours de l’exil ». Ce qui ressort est une diversité immense mais une constante : l’exil est une mise en perspective qui ouvre la possibilité de constructions identitaires nouvelles et fait de ces littératures francophones un lieu de créations fertile en questionnements.

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The Proustian Quest

William Carter, Jeffrey Lange

"An ambitious study, the fruit of sustained work over many years. Professor Carter's book deploys a stunning knowledge of Proust and places Carter among the first line of Proust scholars in the country."
—Roger Shattuck,Boston University

The Proustian Quest is the first full-length study that explores the influence of social change on Proust's vision. In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust describes how the machines of transportation and communication transformed fashion, social mores, time-space perception, and the understanding of the laws of nature. Concentrating on the motif of speed, Carter establishes the centrality of the modern world to the novel's main themes and produces a far- reaching synthesis that demonstrates the work's profound structural unity.

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Proust's Deadline

Christine M. Cano

Marcel Prousts multivolume masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, began to appear in 1913. Over the next fifty years, it gained a reputation as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. But the novels classic image as a completed work was later shattered by the discovery of unpublished drafts, and the war of the Prousts? has kept scholars arguing over its definitive form ever since._x000B_Christine M. Canos Prousts Deadline presents a concise history of the publishing and reception of À la recherche du temps perdu, and sorts out the most important issues that have arisen from the ensuing debates about the text. She ultimately shows how this quintessential book about time? tells another story about times passage: the story of Prousts mortal confrontation with the temporality of writing, publishing, and reading.

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Psyche of Feminism

Sand, Colette, Sarraute

by Catherine Peebles

The Psyche of Feminism argues that a feminist ethics, in order to be both feminist and ethical, needs to embrace psychoanalysis. After reviewing the relation between feminism and psychoanalysis and arguing for the centrality of psychoanalysis to feminist thought, the study offers an analysis of two attempts by George Sand to reimagine the sexual relationship (Letters to Marcie, Lelia), where the emphasis is on political injustice and the impossibility of women's desires. Moving from rights and desires to the question of pleasures, Peebles then takes up a relatively little-read work by Colette, The Pure and the Impure, in which the narrator suggests that pleasure and its corporeal language hold the key to any understanding of masculinity and femininity.

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The Queer Turn in Feminism

Identities, Sexualities, and the Theater of Gender

Anne Emmanuelle Berger is currently professor of French Literature and Gender Studies at the Universite Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, where she heads the Centre d’etudes feminines et d’etudes de genre. She is also director of a new national Institute for

More than any other area of late-twentieth-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. In this book, a leading Franco-American scholar traces differences and intersections in the development of gender and queer theories on both sides of the Atlantic. Looking at these theories through lenses that are both “American” and “French,” thus simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, she tries to account for their alleged exhaustion and currency on the two sides of the Atlantic. The book is divided into four parts. In the first, the author examines two specifically “American” features of gender theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender (from John Money’s early characterization of gender as “role playing” to Judith Butler’s appropriation of Esther Newton’s work on drag queens); on the other, the early adoption of a “queer” perspective on gender issues. In the second part, the author reflects on a shift in the rhetoric concerning sexual minorities and politics that is prevalent today. Noting a shift from efforts by oppressed or marginalized segments of the population to make themselves “heard” to an emphasis on rendering themselves “visible,” she demonstrates the formative role of the American civil rights movement in this new drive to visibility. The third part deals with the travels back and forth across the Atlantic of “sexual difference,” ever since its elevation to the status of quasi-concept by psychoanalysis. Tracing the “queering” of sexual difference, the author reflects on both the modalities and the effects of this development. The last section addresses the vexing relationship between Western feminism and capitalism. Without trying either to commend or to decry this relationship, the author shows its long-lasting political and cultural effects on current feminist and postfeminist struggles and discourses. To that end, she focuses on one of the intense debates within feminist and postfeminist circles, the controversy over prostitution.

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Rachilde and French Women's Authorship

From Decadence to Modernism

Melanie C. Hawthorne

Under the assumed name Rachilde, Marguerite Eymery (1860–1953) wrote over sixty works of fiction, drama, poetry, memoir, and criticism, including Monsieur Vénus, one of the most famous examples of decadent fiction. She was closely associated with the literary journal Mercure de France, inspired parts of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and mingled with all the literary lights of the day. Yet for all that, very little has been written about her. Melanie C. Hawthorne corrects this oversight and counters the traditional approach to Rachilde by persuasively portraying this "eccentric" as patently representative of the French women writers of her time and of the social and literary issues they faced. Seen in this light, Rachilde's writing clearly illustrates important questions in feminist literary theory as well as significant features of turn-of-the-century French society.
 
Hawthorne arranges her approach to Rachilde around several defining events in the author's life, including the controversial publication of Monsieur Vénus, with its presentation of sex reversals. Weaving back and forth in time, she is able to depict these moments in relation to Rachilde's life, work, and times and to illuminate nineteenth-century publishing practices and rivalries, including authorial manipulations of the market for sexually suggestive literature. The most complete and accurate account yet written of this emblematic author, Hawthorne's work is also the first to situate Rachilde in the broader social contexts and literary currents of her time and of our own.

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Radical Indecision

Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, and the Future of Criticism

Leslie Hill

In his newest book, Radical Indecision, esteemed scholar Leslie Hill poses the following question: If the task of a literary critic is to make decisions about the value of a literary work or the values embodied in it, decisions in turn based on some inherited or established values, what happens when that piece of literature fails to subscribe to the established values? Put another way, how should literary criticism respond to the paradox that in order to make critical judgments of literary works, it is first necessary to suspend judgment and to consider the impossibility of making a final decision? Hill pursues these ideas in the works of leading French critics Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida, discussing writers such as Sade, Mallarmé, Proust, Artaud, Genet, Celan, and Duras. Hill concludes that, despite their differences, Barthes, Blanchot, and Derrida share a conviction that criticism cannot take place without exposure to that resistance to decision that is inseparable from reading and that they address diversely as the “neuter” or the “undecidable.” Radical Indecision offers the first sustained exploration of the “undecidable.” This comprehensive book breathes new life into the discipline of literary theory and will be essential reading for students and scholars alike.

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