Where We Are and Where We Go: Spaces and Places of Contemporary France

Taught at: Williams College
Last taught: Fall 2018

How do people in France give meaning to the spaces they inhabit or move through? What does it mean to be from “here” or “there”? Through contemporary French literature and cultural analysis, we will explore these questions in the urban landscapes of major French cities, including Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes, and Angoulême. We will focus on literary representations of the home, the street, the park, the grocery store, and the train, and discuss the ways videos, press articles, photographs, and websites depict neighborhoods, festivals, and street theater. We will also examine a variety of theories that will help us conceptualize urban space and interpret these literary and cultural texts on city life in contemporary France. Readings to include texts by Annie Ernaux, Patrick Modiano, Leïla Sebbar, Didier van Cauwelaert, Yasmina Reza, Jean Rolin, Marie Darrieussecq, and Xavier Houssin.