FREN 501 Pleasure and its Illusions: An Introduction to the Literature and Thought of the French Enlightenment

In this course, we will study the eighteenth-century fascination with the conjunction of pleasure and illusion. If pleasure is in some sense our “truth,” as many authors of the period would suggest, why does it emerge precisely and intensely at moments of deception? We will approach this question as an entry point into some of the most crucial debates of the Enlightenment—around aesthetics, ethics, and politics, certainly, but also around the emergence of publics, both feminine and masculine, who sought out new modes of sensation and new forms of experience—in the novel and at the theater, in the pursuit of knowledge and in the critique of orthodoxies…. Authors we will read will include: Charrière, Crébillon fils, Diderot, Du Châtelet, La Mettrie, Montesquieu, Riccoboni, and Rousseau. Course is taught in French but students from all disciplines are welcome.

FREN 500: Pro-Seminar in French and Francophone Studies

Becoming a scholar in French and Francophone Studies requires gaining a broad understanding of the field, its range of methods and subjects, its interdisciplinarities and heated debates, and its uncharted terrains. What are some of the tools and methods of analysis scholars take up in the study of French and Francophone cultures in the academy today? How are scholars at USC engaging in the research and study of French and Francophone cultures? How do different research units and centers around the world produce thought about French and Francophone cultures? This pro-seminar will serve as an introduction to the current state of French and Francophone studies as well as its evolution and latest trends, considering everything from critical methods of research in literature and cultural studies to the history of French studies and contemporary issues in the profession. Led by a faculty member from the Department of French and Italian, it will feature guest speakers from other units and programs at USC as well as our partner institutions in the SoCal area. The course will culminate with two faculty roundtables where our guest speakers willoutline new directions in the field of French and Francophone Studies.

Offered every fall, FREN 500 is a required course for students in the French and Francophone Studies track of the PhD in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture. The course is conducted in English, and is open to students in other tracks and adjacent PhD programs. Readings are in English and French.