Doris Y. Kadish
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-1815
Charles J. Stivale
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
STATEMENT ABOUT THIS PANEL
Panelists for panel on Saturday, 23 October, 1999, 8h30 - 10h30 (following the initial session, there will be a follow-up discussion from 11:00 AM-12:30 PM):
E. Nicole Meyer, University of Wisconsin--Green
Deborah Harter, Rice University
Melanie Hawthorne, Texas A&M University
Garett R. Heysel, Lycoming College
Doris Y. Kadish, University of Georgia
Charles J. Stivale, Wayne State University
Abstracts (to link to papers, click on highlighted titles):
E. Nicole Meyer
University of Wisconsin--Green Bay
Abstract: Shifting Contexts: Choosing Texts to Fit Institutional, Programmatic, and Individual Needs [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]
My contribution will examine how our choices of course texts shift according to our institutional, programmatic and pedagogical needs. I will consider how we define those needs and how they intersect with various course goals. One particular question I will consider is how we bring our disciplinary expertise into the contemporary teaching environment of cultural studies in an interesting and interdisciplinary way. As I teach a variety of general education courses as well as the whole gamut of French discipline courses at a smaller interdisciplinary institution, I hope to bring some fresh perspectives to these and other questions. Examples and syllabi will be provided to demonstrate how I approach these pedagogical challenges.
Abstract: Pedagogy at the Crossroads: French Studies In the Graduate and the Undergraduate Classroom [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]
This paper will begin by exploring, very briefly, some of the challenges we face in our teaching when we strive to build, or join for the first time, an interdisciplinary program in French Studies that seeks both to expand the horizons but also maintain the breadth and rigor of more traditional departments. They are challenges that are not just pedagogical but also strategic and philosophical: What texts do we teach in such programs? What disciplines do we include? What standards long cherished by the traditional department (coverage of centuries, primacy of literature) can bear to be weakened under the pressure of building a more interdisciplinary foundation? They are challenges that become especially clear, moreover, when, in the course of building such programs, we consider the different needs of the graduate and the undergraduate student.
At Rice University we launched an interdisciplinary program in French Studies in 1990 that has worked hard to maintain, with a smallish faculty, a rich curriculum at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. This means not just planning for two rather different institutional purposes but also teaching courses that must occasionally serve, at once, the needs of both sets of students. How do we meet the needs of the graduate student who takes for credit an undergraduate seminar? How do we hold onto outstanding undergraduates who enroll in graduate seminars, without either overwhelming them or lowering the stakes and the discourse of the graduate classroom:? More importantly, how do such questions of level highlight the priorities we regularly give (and the choices we make between) primary and secondary texts? more critical and more theoretical approaches? period coverage and interdisciplinarity? How do such questions, in other words, illuminate the sustaining goals behind our "choix de textes," and the larger purposes of programs we call "French Studies"?
I will anchor my discussion with an outline of the syllabi and strategies I have followed in three separate courses (two graduate and one undergraduate): "Literature and Psychoanalysis"; "From Nostalgia to Hysteria in the 19th Century: Balzac, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Maupassant"; and, "Women and Women's Voices in French Literature since the 17th Century." In every case I will try to highlight issues that are relevant not just to Rice and to our particular program, but to the French Studies classroom (in both its graduate and undergraduate form) more generally.
Texas A&M University
Abstract: Global Identities, Local Realities [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]
With declining enrollments and shrinking programs at the undergraduate level, I would like to explore ways to promote French Studies at the graduate level through the comparative literature rubric.
Despite the "Research I" classification of Texas A&M University, there is no graduate program in French either at the Master's or the Ph.D. level (there is not even a Ph.D. in Spanish). With declining enrollments at the undergraduate level, there are also fewer and fewer upper-level courses (in either traditional "literature" or in more cultural studies fields) at the undergraduate level, and teaching focuses increasingly on lower-level language courses. In this context, French studies risk disappearing altogether unless creative ways can be found to build onto existing structures.
I would like to discuss here some of the strengths and weaknesses of using a "comparative literature" approach to teaching French at the graduate level in courses designed primarily for graduate students of English and Spanish.
Garett R. Heysel
Abstract: Loosening the Knot: Professing Sexuality in Nineteenth Century French Studies [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]
How far have we come as professors willing to explore issues of sexuality in our teaching of nineteenth-century French literature and culture? Certainly, even a cursory review of colloquia programs would indicate our willingness to talk about issues of desire and sexuality among our peers. And yet, to what extent and in what ways does our research and interest in gay and lesbian studies for example, translate into the courses we might offer? What too, if anything, is at stake when we attempt to do so? André Gide, in a letter to Richard Howard, offered one possible downside to being less than truthful about our passions when he warned: "Each of us is asked to abdicate his critical spirit in order to make it easier to strangle himself" (Homosexualities and French Literature 13). All grim and guilty connotations aside, it would seem that the problematic dialogue, which prefaces one of the earliest and most influential collections of essays on gay and lesbian approaches to French literature, is far from over. This presentation focuses on the complexity of issues entailed in designing courses or lectures dealing with sexuality in nineteenth-century French studies. In addition to proposing an individual response concerning fin-de-siècle literature and culture, I will present the insights, strategies, advice and materials of colleagues currently engaged in professing sexuality issues in a variety of academic settings (graduate and undergraduate courses, public and private institutions, etc.). My aim is to generate, integrate and share practical answers and potential directions to questions heretofore relatively closeted in our field.
Doris Y. Kadish
University of Georgia
Abstract: Cultural Diversity and Nineteenth-Century French Studies (See related Web site for supplementary19th century materials on race that are available in electronic form) [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]
The new, expanded concept of the Francophone world to encompass a plurality of racial, ethnic, and gender identities has led to a whole new way of studying and representing French literature and culture, as reflected in the revised curricula and hiring practices of French Departments throughout the United States and other countries. Concomitantly, developments in postcolonial studies have laid the theoretical groundwork for expanded notions of national identity, and feminist studies have come to focus increasingly on issues of gender and sexuality for women of third world as well as first world countries. Regrettably, however, Francophone studies have been largely confined to the period since 1950. There is thus much to be learned by applying the new, expanded definition of the Francophone world to earlier centuries, which tend to be treated in many academic settings in a traditional manner that consists of a predominant if not exclusive reliance on canonical texts by white male writers from hexagonal France. The failure of professors of nineteenth-century literature to incorporate cultural diversity into their courses stems in part from the difficulty in identifying appropriate materials. This paper attempts to address that difficulty by offering suggestions of authors, texts, web sites, and other relevant resources from France, the French Caribbean, Canada, Algeria, the United States, and other French-speaking locations.
Charles J. Stivale
Wayne State University
Abstract: From Jourdain to Trissotin: Speaking the "Tongues" of Theory [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]
In my 1998 panel presentation, I used the conceit of Molière's M. Jourdain to suggest that in studying nineteenth-century French literature from a socio-cultural perspective, I was already "doing" Cultural Studies without knowing it. One response to this conceit was to liken the supposedly unwitting practice à la Jourdain to Molière's Trissotin, presumably implying a pedantic and even presumptuous approach to literary studies. I want to embrace the Trissotin figure in order to discuss the problem of introducing "theory" within the literature classroom. That is, can we, as modern-day Trissotins, presume too much or too little in introducing theoretical texts in our course? This is a particular problem in courses that overlap advanced undergraduate and graduate offerings, and in my presentation, I intend to suggest "choix de textes" that have functioned well within this framework. I will suggest that less is more in the theory context, particularly when much of our work is to assure denotative accuracy in the students' reading practices as a basis for any stylistic, connotative appreciation of the primary texts.
Statement on the panel
Following the exciting discussion held at the Pedagogical Roundtable during the 1998 NCFS Colloquium, we wish to propose a roundtable for the 1999 Colloquium, entitled "Choix de textes pour les études dix-neuviémistes." In this roundtable, we will continue to adopt the format employed successfully at the 1998 Colloquium in order to generate further discussion among participants and with the audience.
The topic for this roundtable was raised during the 1998 discussion, the extremely rich pedagogical problem which we all face each semester, that of the choix de textes for courses at all levels and in diverse institutional settings. Therefore, we propose a roundtable based on the following organizational and substantive principles:
-- 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 presenters on the proposed panel will address these issues directly and, as a condition for participation, they will make available "choix de textes," i.e. lists of proposed texts (with information about availability, ordering, etc.), as well as teaching materials, curricular plans, or syllabi, in addition to the paper he/she would prepare for the roundtable.
Furthermore, in order to engage a range of aspects within the broad problematics of choix de textes, we have asked the panelists to accept a "division of labor," i.e. with each accepting to focus on different foci: primary texts and interdisciplinarity (Meyer), issues of diversity (race, class, gender) and sexuality (Heysel, Kadish), theory (Stivale), institutional differences and programmatic foci (Harter, Hawthorne, Meyer), graduate vs. undergraduate levels (Harter, Hawthorne, Meyer, Stivale).
-- In the 1998 session on the "field" of cultural studies, the panelists raised questions about the challenges and questions that the interdisciplinary domain poses for teaching. These and other questions remain pertinent for the topic of choix de textes, e.g. what definitions do we give, explicitly and implicitly, to a course's goals by dint of these selections, and what inclusions and exclusions do we operate in so doing? 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 will address, with the aforementioned emphasis on providing material examples from course preparations and/or results.
-- In order to generate a panel format that differs from the well-established oral delivery of twenty-minute papers, the participants have made the papers and materials available beforehand (at http://www.langlab.wayne.edu/CStivale/NCFS/NCFS1999.html), and audience members implicitly accept the responsibility of consulting these materials in advance of the discussion. Conference participants may access these materials prior to the Colloquium from September 25 onward either by Web access or by requesting an email-file transfer (C_Stivale@wayne.edu). Copies of material via postal delivery must be requested by October 15, 1999, but these will only be the papers themselves, not the supplementary documentation attached (via links) to these papers.
In the colloquium panel, each author will present a 5-7 minute thesis summary of the longer paper, and then open discussion will take place for approximately 40 minutes. Each presenter may want to prepare handouts of the teaching materials available on the Web site. Following the initial session and coffee break, a second session will take place for discussion on a number of the issues raised in the first session.