Morgues, Immoralists and Monsieur Lange: The French Third Republic (1870-1940) Course description

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Morgues, Immoralists and Monsieur Lange: The French Third Republic (1870-1940)
Course description:

The French Third Republic (1870-1940) represents one of the most varied yet paradoxically most characteristic periods in France. Cultural changes were vast as France turned to an urban industrial economy from a rural, artisanal model. World fairs, wax museums, morgues and the cinema (the first film was screened in France in 1895) developed a rapidly growing popular culture that emphasized visual perception. Colonialism, communism, socialism, anti-Semitism and secularism alternately dominated French politics as the country evolved into a modern republic even as its citizens were still trying to define what their republic represented.

How did writers, filmmakers and artists represent such vast changes in their work? This course examines an important period of French history in concert with its literature, art, and films in order to attempt a broader understanding of the Third Republic through its culture. Among the literary movements we will study are naturalism, symbolism, and surrealism. We will read works that reflect new concepts of the individual as well as his/her relationship to the world during fin-de siècle, Belle Epoque, First World War, and Popular Front France. As we interpret French culture across the Third Republic, you will identify recurrent themes and tensions. Ultimately the aim of the course is to not only encourage a better understanding of France during the Third Republic, but also give insight into cultural issues in contemporary France.
Grade Breakdown:

I. Contributions to class discussion and debate: 35%

Whenever you are in class, you must regularly voice your opinions on class readings, challenge other students and myself to explain unclear positions, as well as ask questions when appropriate. To facilitate this, 2-3 reading questions will be given for each week’s texts. You do not have to write out responses, but you should have prepared some notes for these questions before class. This grade also includes three short reaction posts (1 paragraph) to the class “bulletin board” on the ecampus website.

II. Papers: 65%

Each paper is designed to improve upon your writing and critical thinking techniques through the examination of specific areas of the culture of the Third Republic. Topics for persuasive, scholarly papers will be assigned for the first two shorter papers. For the last paper, you will generate your own argument. Since we will be reading texts that demonstrate how other authors devise means for analyzing culture, we will work on adapting some of these techniques for your papers.

The final paper will also require the use of at least three outside (library) sources to bolster your argument (we will practice searching for such sources in class). Ideally, by the end of the course you will have an excellent writing sample to use for applications to jobs or graduate schools. The papers will go through a cycle of drafting and editing before the final version is handed in. For the final paper, we will spend additional time on detailed outlining to ensure a solid framework for your argument.
Paper one (3-4 pages): 15%; Paper two (4-5 pages): 20%; Final paper (10-12 pages): 30%
Weekly assignments: readings found in course reader unless otherwise noted


Week 1

Monday: Introduction: What is it and where did it come from?

End of the Second Empire, Paris Commune and establishment of the Third Republic

In-class reading of Arthur Rimbaud “Bad Blood” / “Mauvais sang” from A Season in Hell (1873)

Wednesday: Guy de Maupassant, Butterball/ Boule de suif (1880)

Gordon Wright, France in Modern Times, Chapter 18 “The Monarchist Republic, 1870-1879”
Week 2

Monday: Wright, chapter 19 “The Opportunist Repubic, 1879-1899

Emile Zola and naturalism: The Human Beast/La Bête humaine (1890)
Wednesday: Emile Zola, cont.
Week 3

Monday: The Dreyfus Affair: 1894-1906

Dreyfus: a Family Affair Michael Burns (excerpts)

Wright, chapter 22, “Society: Structures and Trends, 1870-1914”

Wednesday: Dreyfus discussion, continued

“J’accuse...!” Emile Zola (January 13, 1898)

Paper 1 due
Week 4

Monday: Fin-de-siecle early mass culture: the morgue/wax museums/journalism

Vanessa Schwartz (excerpts) Spectacular Realities:

Early Mass Culture in fin-de-siècle Paris

Wednesday: André Gide, The Immoralist/ L’Immoraliste (1902)

Week 5

Monday: Wright, ch. 23, “The French Mind and Spirit, 1870-1914”

ch. 20, “The Radical Republic, 1899-1914”

Wednesday: Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way/ Du côté du chez Swann (1913) (excerpts)

Week 6

Monday: Wright, chapter 29, “Economy and Society in the Postwar Decade, 1919 1931”

Colette, Chéri (1920)

Paper 2 due

Wednesday: Colette cont.

Peer edit of introductions/outlines for third paper in

Week 7

Monday : André Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism (1924)

“Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express, whether verbally or in writing, or in any other way, the real process of thought. Thought’s dictation, free from any control by the reason, independent of any aesthetic or moral preoccupation.” André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Manifesto of Surrealism (1924; repr. in Manifestos of Surrealism, 1969).

Wednesday: Luis Buñuel, L’Age d’or (1930). View film on reserve in Powell Media Lab prior to class.

Final paper brainstorming/ discussion of sources.
Week 8

Monday: Final paper tentative thesis due

The 1930s: Poetic realism and cinematic expression of the Popular Front.

“Popular Front” in The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French

Dudley Andrew, Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture introduction

Wednesday: Le Crime de Monsieurr Lange (1936) Jean Renoir.

View film in Powell Media Lab prior to class meeting.
Week 9

Monday: Dudley Andrew, Mists of Regret Chapter 9, “Jean Renoir: Adaptation, Institution, Auteur.”

Wednesday: La Bête Humaine (1938) Jean Renoir. View film in Powell Media Lab prior to class meeting.
Week 10:

Monday: Wright, chapter 31, “Crisis and Collapse, 1936-1940”

Outlines with introductions for final paper due in class; peer editing.
Wednesday: Conclusions, peer editing feedback continued.

Final paper due during finals week

Bibliography for Required Reading Texts

Andrew, Dudley. Mists of Regret: Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Film. Princeton, Princeton UP, 1995.

Andrew, Dudley, and Stephen Ungar, Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005.
Breton, André. “Manifesto of Surrealism.” Trans.Helen R. Lane and Richard Seaver. Manifestos of Surrealism. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.
Burns, Michael. Dreyfus: A Family Affair.

Colette. Chéri and The Last of Chéri. Trans. Roger Senhouse. 2nd ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

Gide, André. The Immoralist. Trans. David Watson New York: Penguin Books, 2001.
Maupassant, Guy de. Butterball. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. The Necklace and Other Tales. New York: Modern Library, 2003.
Proust, Marcel. Swann’s Way. Trans. C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; revised by D.J. Enright. New York: Modern Library, 1992.

Reynolds, Sian. “Popular Front.” The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. Ed. Peter French. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Rimbaud, Arthur. “Bad Blood” / “Mauvais sang.” Trans. Bertrand Mathieu. A Season in Hell and Illuminations. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1991.
Schwartz, Vanessa. Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in fin-de-siècle Paris.

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Wright, Gordon. France in Modern Times: From the Enlightenment to the Present. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
Zola, Emile. La Bete Humaine. Trans. Roger Pearson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
_____. “J’accuse...!” L’Aurore. January 13, 1898.

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