M/W/F 11:00-12:00 B1 Hearst Annex Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

How do literary works and films simultaneously disclose and keep their secrets? This course examines the role of secrets in producing and blocking narrative movement, and in releasing and withholding meaning.  We give particular attention to secrets such as the gay closet or racial passing, that, like Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” hide “in plain sight,” and discuss the role of narrative and confession in the construction, circulation and concealment of public and private identities, marked and unmarked by gender, sexual identity, race, or class. We also critically examine the implied analogies between interpretation and detective work, and between reading and religious election. What distinguishes interpretive “insight” from naïve reading? What kinds of ironic relationships obtain between “blind” characters and “perceptive” readers?

The course is designed to introduce you to a number of different methodologies that will help you in analyzing texts across different languages and in comparative contexts. All readings will be available in English.

Texts: (Available at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way, below Telegraph)

Barthes, S/Z

Freud, Dora: Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria

James, What Maisie Knew

Kleist, “The Marquise of O—”

Lafayette, The Princesse of Clèves

Larsen, Passing

Murasaki, The Tale of Genji (selections)

Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Tales

The Purloined Poe

Course packet including critical readings, Julio Cortázar’s “Blow Up,” and Thomas Gould’s translation of Sophocles, Oedipus Rex.


Antonioni, Blow-Up (1966)

Coppola, The Conversation (1974)

Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958)

Kurosawa, Rashomon (1950)

Ophuls, The Earrings of Madame de . . . (1953)

Exact places and dates for screenings to be determined.  Film viewings are a requirement.