University Honors College - The Honorable mention
Monday
10/07/19

Spring 2020 Honors Seminar: Dreams of the New in Postwar France (Open to All Majors)

Posted by Tim on October 7, 2019 in Academics, Honors Experiences, Honors Seminars

FR 481: Dreams of the new in Postwar France
Wednesdays 4-6:40 p.m.
Room TBA…will be on north campus and likely in a seminar room
Professor Fernanda Negrete
Open to all majors….no prerequisites!
Registration #: 23546

A number of French writers, thinkers, and artists after World War II proposed radical notions of the new. They decided that the only way to revive language, space, and time, after these key elements of symbolic life had collapsed under the traumatic events of the Holocaust, was to begin creative work at “degree zero”: by starting without the guidelines and standards left behind by cultural traditions in a world that had fallen apart. In other words, these French authors, through experimental fiction, theory, cinema, and theater confront the destruction of the collective and of its very stage to ask what it means to think and write, to make an artwork, or to build and inhabit a city after it has been shattered by human acts of violence.

To think “the new” also entails asking what it means to remember, dream, and repeat. In colloquial speech we talk about “our dreams” as our great wishes and projects for the future. For its part, Freudian dream theory —where dreams refer to the productions we carry out in our sleep— claims that a dream is the fulfillment of a wish. But what happens when the future “our dreams” envision has been shattered? What kinds of wishes are left? And how do we understand nightmares here? Freud himself asked this question by thinking of (WWI) war veterans’ insistent nightmares, and discovered an important function of repetition in the unconscious, which is especially relevant when the work of remembering faces the obstacle of trauma. This unique sense of unconscious repetition was key for both psychoanalysis and the French authors who developed New Wave cinema, the New Novel, “writing degree zero,” as well as other new conceptions of community (Freud, Agamben, Nancy, Blanchot, Guattari, Oury and Guattari) and the subject of unconscious desire.

This seminar will involve discussions in different formats (roundtable, small groups) around texts, films, plays, viewings, invited lectures. Evaluation will be based on consistent attendance and participation supported by preparation, and on mid-term and final papers (5-6 pages for the midterm, 9-10 pages for the final).