Previous Courses 2017-2018

2017-2018 Courses


Introduction to American Studies (MA)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major themes and methods of New American Studies, a theoretically-informed, comparativist and socially engaged recent development within American Studies. We will examine the role of language, myth and ideology in American cultural politics, focusing on issues such as imperialism, religion, multiculturalism, feminism and race. The corpus will include films, literary texts and readings from the textbook, American Cultural Studies (Neil Campbell, available at Basta!). The readings for the course will be supplemented by guest lectures linked to the clas

Morrison’s Beloved (2nd year BA)

This explication de textes course will use Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a point of entry into the study of narrative prose, focusing on the acquisition of tools and vocabulary that are necessary to analyze the modernist novel as form. In the first part of the class, we will learn about topics such narration and figurative language. In a second part of the course we will also look at the text from different theoretical perspectives and practice constructing evidence in the service of reasoned arguments or claims about a text. Students are encouraged to read the novel before the class begins so that they can reread it more carefully and critically during the semester.



MA: American Countercultures: — this course will be co-taught with Prof. Christian Arnsperger from the Institute of Geography and Sustainability at the FGSE. We will be looking at the history and present renaissance of alternative communities and eco-villages and reading a range of literary and non-literary texts.

3rd year BA: American Utopias

American Utopian Fiction (3rd year BA) — We are familiar with dystopian narratives and have witnessed our destruction many times over in popular culture and literature. What about imagining better futures, which can inspire or set an example? American literature offers several landmark texts of utopian fiction, including Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, and Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia. We will read these three texts, and some others, and consider the strategies and specificities of utopian literature.

ET: James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room

This course is intended to consolidate the close reading skills you began to learn in the first year, by a careful and unhurried analysis of a single work. We will be reading James Baldwin’s notorious Giovanni’s Room, one of the first and most important works of American queer fiction, exploring the cultural and psychological dynamics of homophobia and same-sex desire through the experiences of a young American in Paris.



2018-2019 — possible courses


MA : New American Studies

3rd year BA : Representing the wars in the Middle East

ET: Whitman and Dickinson OR Whitman’s Influence


ET: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

3rd year BA: African American Literature

This seminar aims to introduce 3rd year BA students to the major themes and texts of 19th-centuryAmerican literature. We begin with the slave narrative, recording the experiences of escaped slaves, and finish with a short novel, probably by Toni Morrison. In between, we will discuss issues of language, dialect, political art, music, genre, and gender as we read poems, novels, speeches, short stories, several chapters of W.E. B. Du Bois’s influential The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and the Harlem Renaissance novel by Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1936). This course is an excellent preparation for the annual spring African American History study trip to Paris.

MA: to be decided