France in Ruins: Wounded Spaces From 1945 to the Present
Ruins have been at the center of the French imaginary since the sixteenth century. They represented in turn the decay of the pagan world, its architectural genius, the height of the sublime, and a refuge for earthly pleasures or the inquisitive mind. The twentieth century, with its landscapes of broken metropolises and scorched earth, changed the literary reading of this spatial motif in radical ways, making it more malleable and more ambiguous. It has been evolving from 1945 to the present, taking unique shapes in the literature we will be studying this semester, starting with the rotting landscapes of Julien Gracq and Pierre Michon, and moving towards the industrial territories of François Bon and Élisabeth Filhol.
This seminar will allow the students to become familiar with a poetic approach to literary texts, while also remaining open to the theoretical perspectives that they will be bringing forward through class discussions and oral presentations. Our seminar will also include a substantial component dedicated to the visual history of ruins in European architecture, painting, photography, and film.
Julien Gracq, Un balcon en forêt
Pierre Michon, La Grande Beune
Patrick Modiano, Pedigree
François Bon, Paysage fer
Philippe Vasset, Un livre blanc
Élisabeth Filhol, La Centrale
Céline Minard, Le Dernier monde
Theory readings will include works by Bertrand Westphal, Michel Collot, Marielle Macé, and others.
Language of instruction: French
Professor: Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire