French 7770

Fall Semester 2000

Literary Criticism and Cultural Studies: French Cultural Studies

Charles J. Stivale
361 Manoogian, 577-0970

In a seminar of this sort, the grading element of the course seems particularly inappropriate since this seminar functions as a workshop- for the participants' critical and professional concerns. However, as one nearly inevitable facet of our professional life is, in fact, the assignment of a "final" grade to students' performance, the following criteria will apply for this course:

Attendance/participation: 40/100
Two essays: 10% each: 20/100
Synopsis/critique: 10/100
Abstract/Progress report: 5% each: 10/100
Research paper: 20/100

-- Regular attendance and active participation (40%): I assign a broad array of texts as readings in this course, and in order for students to participate actively each week in class discussions and, better still, to raise questions about these readings, clearly each participant must complete the reading assignments beforehand. As for attendance, since I have designed this seminar with -participants' benefit- in mind, repeated absence means that a student has not fulfilled his/her implicit contract both to fellow participants and to him/herself, i.e. to reflect on the readings and to share the fruit of that reflection and questioning in active and regular dialogue. And please understand: dialogue -can and does- include attentive listening and absorption of others' discussion as well as direct intervention. I consider all absences after the third (whatever the reason for the first three) to diminish the grade in direction proportion to classes missed.

-- -Two written essays- (20%): A "mythology", on a topic that each participant may select (in consultation with me if deemed appropriate) employing the models of "mythologies" (Barthes, Eco) that we will have examined in the first weeks of the semester; and

A -take-home mid-term-, i.e. a set of essay topics from which each participant will select one (or two, yet to be determined) for written reflection.

In terms of length of these assignments, the "mythology" may be quite brief, but should provide an insightful reflection on the particular subject/object of critical reflection. As for the take-home mid-term essay, while 5-7 pages word-processed would seem reasonable, the only set length is that which the essayist will decide is appropriate to respond adequately and completely to the selected topic, subject to my own critical assessment subsequently.

-- -Critical synopsis- of a selected reading from the Le Hir/Strand volume provided (10%): during weeks 8-9, participants will read and then comment in class upon a selected essay. The focus of this in-class exercise will be a) a brief synopsis of the essay, including its purpose, the strategies and steps of the essay's analysis, and b) whether or not, according to your reading, the author achieved his/her goal, with your justification of this assessment. The grade for this synopsis will consist of the average between the oral part, presented in class, and the written follow-up, to be turned in no more than a week after the oral synopsis.

-- A -written abstract-/bibliography (5%) and an -oral work-in-progress report- (5%) on the participant's selected research topic: during the semester, each participant will have selected a topic for a final research paper (see next grade category), for which each participant will submit a written abstract and bibliography (not necessary the final one), -no later- than Nov. 7 in class, preferably earlier. Then, in the Thanksgiving week class, we will the class time for participants' outline of these research papers in the form of mini-conference papers (10-12 minutes maximum) that we will present to each other. The purpose of these two components is a) to give each participant practice in the "art" of preparing the conference abstract (and also to hone in on his/her chosen research topic -well in advance- of actual deadlines) and b) to be expected to have thought through the main arguments and some development in preparation for oral presentation to the seminar colleagues.

-- A -final research paper- (20%): The topic of this research paper may be an analysis of a literary text (chosen from the participant's discipline) or of a cultural "text" more broadly defined. While the mode of analysis may correspond to any approach that the participant deems appropriate, the seminar's focus on
French Cultural Studies would orient the analysis, whatever the selected text, toward approaches related to this field. These approaches may be some that we have considered during the semester or others with which the participant is familiar from other course.

The research paper should correspond to the MLA Bibliographical format, be word-processed, and have a 10-page minimum length double-spaced (excluding end-notes and bibliography).