CONTEMPORARY FRENCH LITERATURE
Learning outcomes of the course unit
During the course, students will acquire the ability to:
• Read a contemporary author with critical autonomy
• Practice textual analysis and the different types of approach to the text
• Insert the texts studied in the entire production of the author studied and identify thematic and stylistic recurrences
• Insert this author in the literary and artistic panorama of our time, make comparisons and move independently towards other authors
They will be also invited to reflect about contemporary literary and media phenomena
Course contents summary
Author of 28 novels translated into forty languages, of an impressive number of unpublished manuscripts, short stories, and even lyrics of songs, Amélie Nothomb lives alla the paradoxes of celebrities, from the mistrust of the academic world towards an «écrivaine à succès» to the idolatry of the public, from the sporadic attempts to study her singular work and her recognizable style to the mediatic mythisation of her person. Since 1992, the publication date of her first work Hygiène de l’assassin (1992), crowned by the favours of critics and the public, the author continues, in fact, to publish, with disarming regularity, one novel a year, confessing to write three times more a and voluntarily undergo a daily ritual of writing that resembles a "sacrifice", hard to maintain, but strictly necessary.
During the course, we will start from this vital need to writing to face the analysis of a complex work that responds to the needs of entertainment and consumption, but also reveals a singular literary scope and already seems to have access to the "classic" status of contemporary production.
In other words, it will deal with a media phenomenon that poses the controversial question of a possible alliance between celebrity and actual talent and which leads us, moreover, to the examination of the link between the person and the work . Person and work associated, both, with a geographical "non-belonging" that allows critics to analyse the complex link between writing and the search for an identity, even physical, linked to a territory and to highlight the debt of the author with
• The Japanese childhood dream reinvented through writing
• The magical or fantastic "real" realism of contemporary Belgian culture
We will work on two distinct strands starting from the reading and detailed analysis of two of the author's most famous novels:
1. Hygiène de l'assassin, 1992, debut work and "manifesto" by the author.
For the morbid cruelty of the work and the link between this cruelty and the receptive phenomenon of Nothomb.
2. Stupeurs et tremblements, 1999 for the treatment of distinct autobiographical forms in the work of Amélie Nothomb.
Starting from the complete reading of the two texts we will deal with the following points:
Réalisme magique and link with inquiétante étrangeté - Macabre romanticism - Black humor - irony and sarcasm
Dramatic choice of mise en scène - huis-clos and references to philosophical dialogue as struggle and contrastive development of narration
False dichotomies: beauté / laideur - gras / maigre - etc
Topos eros thanatos - focus on death
mise en abyme of literary creation and the image of the writer
The self-descriptive forms of writing
We will conclude by attempting to define the contours of a work-world made up of multiple stories that can be read separately or linked to each other due to the presence of a series of recognizable myths and recurring stylistic choices
Amélie Nothomb, Hygiène de l’assassin, Paris, Albin Michel, 1992
Amélie Nothomb, Stupeur et tremblements, Paris, Albin Michel, 1999
About Amélie Nothomb:
Amanieux Laureline, Amélie Nothomb, l’éternelle affamée, Paris, Albin Michel, 2005
Amanieux Laureline, Récit siamois, identité et personnage dans l’oeuvre d’Amélie Nothomb, Paris, Albin Michel, 2009
About Amélie Nothomb novels: tre articles of your choice from the following collection:
D. Lee Mark, De Medeiros Ana (sous la direction de) Identité, mémoire, lieux. Le passé, le présent et l’avenir d’Amélie Nothomb, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2018
The course consists of lectures, during wich the presentation of historical and literary contents will be supplemented by commentary and analysis of extracts from texts. The lectures will be
recorded on Microsoft's Teams platform and offered to students through the stream platform. Students will be able to use the Elly platform where USRLs will be provided to access the lessons.
Assessment methods and criteria
The knowledge acquired during the course will be assessed through an oral exam in french. The following knowledge and skills will be assessed: knowledge about authors and works covered in the course and their accurate insetion into cultural context; the ability to express content in correct french; an adequate level in the ability to analyze and rework the basic contents in an autonomous way.
A fail determined by the absense, demonstrated by the student during the oral examination, of the ability to understand the basic contents of the course, the lack of autonomous preparation and the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of texts, as well as the formulation of independent judgments. A pass (18-23/30) is determined by the ability, demonstarted by the student, to have acquired the basic content of the course; a sufficient level of autonomous preparation, an acceptable ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and decodin of texts, as well as the formulation of independent judgment. Middle-range marks (24-27/30) are assigned to those student who produce evidence of more than sufficient (24-25/30) or good (26-27/30) levels in the evaluation indicators listed above. Upper-end marks (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded on the basics of the demonstration of a very good to an excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above.