This is a selection of courses I have recently taught in Comparative Literature and French. Undergraduate: Literature and Colonialism In this course we read a number of literary texts set in colonized territories. Dating primarily from the turn of the twentieth century to the period of widespread decolonization a half-century later, these texts represent a variety of forms and genres and emerge out of a number of different cultural situations and geographic locations (including Southeast Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa). Some of the authors considered are firmly enshrined in the canon of modern European literature, while others write as colonized subjects engaging with European histories of exoticist representation. In our discussions, we addressed the historical specificity of each text while remaining open to insights made possible by reading comparatively. In other words, our goal was not to synthesize a monolithic theory of literature and colonialism but rather to analyze individual texts while attempting to be attentive to common textual strategies, formal elements, and practices of representing colonial space, dynamics of power, and variously configured articulations of domination and resistance, civilization and savagery, modernity and tradition. Authors considered included Joseph Conrad, René Maran, Marguerite Duras, Monique Truong, Ferdinand Oyono, Albert Camus, Assia Djebar. The Cultures of Franco-America In this course, we considered a broad range of literary and cultural texts that emerge out of the long history of the French in North America and of Americans in France. Our readings included novels, poetry, and short stories—including an early work of African American fiction, written in French and published in Paris in 1837. Alongside these literary texts produced by French writers in America and American expatriates in France, we considered travel narratives and missionary accounts describing interactions between European and Native American populations; historical, ethnographic, and political writings; foodways and other popular cultural forms such as music, comic strips, films, and television programs. Throughout the semester, our discussions focused on the politics of representation—which is to say that we worked to understand the processes through which categories of “race” are shaped over time through the interplay between Anglo- and Franco-American cultures and ideologies, even as these categories are challenged from the perspectives of minority populations. As we traced these processes of racialization, we were particularly attentive to intersections between “race” and class, gender, and sexuality; at the same time, we considered the ways in which all of these categories of identity are inflected by language, by regional and national forms of belonging and exclusion, and by the presence of “mixed-race” communities. Authors considered included Jean de Brébeuf and Paul Le Jeune (Jesuit Relations), Louise Erdrich, François-René de Chateaubriand, Alexis de Tocqueville, Kate Chopin, Victor Séjour, Jean Arceneaux, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, James Baldwin, William Gardiner Smith. Displaced Narratives In this course, we considered a variety of written and cinematic texts, all of which foreground the movement of individuals or communities across national borders. Over the course of the semester, we discussed a number of interrelated questions: how do contemporary writers attempt to come to terms with the profound historical ruptures and geographic displacements brought about by the experience of transnational movement? How do they seek to render into language and narrative the confusion of conflicting cultural structures, and in what ways are their characters recast by their status as immigrants or refugees? How do these authors represent bodies as objects that circulate within transnational circuits, variously commodified, eroticized, or pathologized? How are the categories of gender and sexuality inflected by histories of migration? Authors considered included le thi diêm thúy, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, Azouz Begag, Leïla Sebbar, Moshin Hamid, Marie Ndiaye. “if a book is locked”: Fictional Diaries and the Writing of the Self In the age of Facebook and Instagram, of tweets and TikTok, it can be difficult to remember that not so long ago the practice of narrating the self was often closely tied to intimate, private, and even secret forms of writing. In this course, we considered a number of literary texts that experiment with such forms of writing, focusing in particular on the genre of the diary novel. Whether these texts present themselves as diaries, trouble the lines between diaries and related forms of intimate writing, or simply tell stories in which diaries figure prominently, they all explore the relationship between writing and subjectivity. Reading comparatively, we sought to understand why authors from different historical, cultural, and geographic locations have turned to fictional diaries to explore the interplay between identity and difference, subjugation and freedom, and private and public selves. Over the course of the semester, we were especially attentive to the complex relationship between writing and the self in literature emerging from colonial and postcolonial contexts. Authors considered included Daniel Defoe, J.M. Coetzee, Françoise de Graffigny, Ferdinand Oyono, Mongo Beti, Mariama Bâ, M.G. Vassanji, Helen Oyeyemi. Graduate: Francophone Literature and the Shameful State Alternative facts, kleptocratic regimes, vulgar authoritarians who claim to speak in the voice of the people—for generations, francophone authors have grappled with these and other aspects of postcolonial rule. In this seminar, we read a number of literary texts that narrate uneasy passages from the colonial period through the era of independence and on into variously configured neocolonial states and totalitarian regimes. In the first part of the semester, we focused primarily on novels from the 1970s and 1980s, all of which register deep disillusionment with postcolonial nationalism. In the second part of the semester, we considered a group of more recent novels that extend the critique of nationalism even as they take on contemporary dynamics of globalization, debt, and private indirect government. Throughout our discussions, we focused on the literary forms and stylistic practices that characterize these texts, paying particular attention to questions of narrative structure, generic affiliation, and the experimental use of language and writing to represent the tortuous speech of the dictator, as well as the possibility of its undoing. Authors considered included Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, Sony Labou Tansi, Achille Mbembe, Ousmane Sembène, Henri Lopes, Aminata Sow Fall, Ahmadou Kourouma, Mongo Beti, Alain Mabanckou, Boubacar Boris Diop, Yasmina Khadra. Rewriting the Hexagon: Metropolitan Reflections in Francophone Literature For almost a century, francophone writers have been concerned with the various cultural, political, and economic dynamics that shape the experiences of colonial and postcolonial subjects who travel into and out of France. In this seminar, we read and discussed several texts, dating from the 1930s onward, that foreground movement to (and from) the metropole. Over the course of the semester, we considered a number of interrelated questions: how do these texts reflect the profound psychic ruptures and geographic displacements that shape colonial and postcolonial subjectivity? What sorts of challenges do they pose to narratives of French national and cultural identity? How do they transform concepts of “home” and “nation,” “citizen” and “foreigner,” “French” and “francophone”? What forms of agency (or lack thereof) underlie these metropolitan itineraries? How do the terms within which travel to France is imagined shift over time? Authors considered include Aimé Césaire, Ousmane Socé, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Ousmane Sembène, Driss Chraïbi, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Azouz Begag, Gisèle Pineau, Alain Mabanckou, Bessora, Fatou Diome.