Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium 1998

Pennsylvania State University

22-25 October, 1998

Last update: May 17, 2004

Pedagogical Roundtable: Nineteenth-Century French Studies
within a Cultural Studies Frame

Panelists & Abstracts (To access individual papers, click on each author's name below.)


This panel in a roundtable and discussion format seeks to achieve several goals, at once pedagogical, theoretical, and structural:

-- Due to our intense investment at the NCFS colloquia in furthering research in literary historical, critical, and cultural domains, scant attention has been paid to problems and issues that we face in teaching this same material. The presentations on this panel address these issues directly and provide different approaches, materials, and curricular plans in support of this teaching.

-- The "field" of cultural studies, while quite prevalent as an interdisciplinary domain for research and reflection, nonetheless poses many challenges and questions to teaching: on one hand, what definitions do we give, explicitly and implicitly, to this interdisciplinary domain, and what inclusions and exclusions do we operate in so doing? On the other hand, how do we "apply" these definitions to our teaching practices, and what transformations in our teaching approaches do these practices entail? These are but a few of the questions that presenters on this panel address, most notably the intersection of cultural studies, variously defined, and the problematics of its manifestations for teaching in nineteenth-century French studies.

-- In recent years, a number of participants in the NCFS colloquium have sought to introduce section formats that differ from the well established oral delivery of twenty-minute papers. In this panel, the participants -- presenters as well as audience members will have the opportunity to discuss the papers that will be made publicly available prior to the colloquium. Subsequently, should the panel proposal be accepted, presenters have agreed to transmit the final papers to the panel organizer by September 10, to be posted then on a World Wide Web site (URL to be listed in the conference program) for access by conference participants between September 25- October 25 (or available upon request via e-mail/file transfer or postal service).

In the colloquium panel, each author will present a 5-7 minute thesis summary of the longer paper, followed by a discussion, (Sandy Petrey) comments, and then open discussion will take place for approximately 40 minutes.

Panelists & Papers (Abstracts):

John Anzalone (Skidmore College), "En marge du dix-neuvième siècle": Prof. Anzalone considers how to approach so-called fin de siècle "marginal writers" within the curriculum (particularly undergraduate) in terms of the diverse problems (linguistics, literary, cultural, as well as curricular) that these texts pose. He approaches these problems with reference to a course he taught, "Fin de siècle Mentalities," and suggests certain parameters for teaching nineteenth-century French literature "dans les marges." [A revised version of this essay will be included in Modern French Literary Studies in the Classroom: Pedagogical Strategies, ed. Charles J. Stivale, NYC: MLA Publications, forthcoming]

Janice Best (Acadia University), "Les études culturelles dans la salle de classe": Prof. Best reflects on questions posed by her students regarding the value of studying literary texts as a starting point for juxtaposing particular social questions (on theatrical and operatic censorship in the nineteenth-century) with selected literary texts. In this way, she hopes to develop evident links between current social values and the literary texts that students encounter in nineteenth-century courses.

Daniel Desormeaux (Dartmouth College), "Le Roman réaliste: faits divers et faits culturels dans l'enseignement littéraire": Prof. Desormeaux links his research into the nineteeneth-century "fait divers" to questions of teaching French literature from a socio-cultural perspective precisely in light of the "faits divers." In so doing, he raises important questions about teaching cultural and literary topics to students in an era that seems to have banalized the rapport between the "quotidien" and the novel.

Doris Y. Kadish (University of Georgia), "Contextualizing the Canon: New Perspectives on The Red and the Black": Prof. Kadish emphasizes the importance of providing students with skills for analyzing culture, particularly issues that relate to class, gender, and race. But arguing that this task need not be limited to separate courses, e.g. women's studies or content-specific courses, she sees the literature classroom as having an important role in developing this consciousness. Kadish proposes to use Stendhal's Le rouge et le noir to this end, that is, as a canonical, unifying component of a cultural studies type course with 1830 France as a focal period. Kadish employs this work as a way to culminate development of certain themes, e.g. literacy and oppression, in relation to the literary works treated and consideration of the larger social questions of the period.

Elisabeth-Christine Muelsch (Angelo State University), "Integrating Obscure, French Women Writers into the Undergraduate Curriculum": In contrast to the previous paper, and in response to the particular student demographics at her school, Prof. Muelsch proposes conjoining her research on women writers and publishers of the July Monarchy with readings for students based upon these women writers. She argues that not only does this approach help integrate cultural aspects into literary interpretation, it also provides students access to a range of texts, helping them hone critical thinking skills and become more aware of historical and social issues.

Charles J. Stivale (Wayne State University), "Monsieur Jourdain Meets Cultural Studies": With this title, Prof. Stivale poses questions about coming to "cultural studies" in his teaching practice, with reference to three courses he has taught from cultural perspectives. Distinguishing between "cultural" and "culture studies" in the French literature classroom, Stivale uses the different syllabi to consider the changing definitions of "cultural studies" in teaching, and particularly the implications of these changes for nineteenth-century French studies.