Paris Fall Seminar
In fall 2015, study in Paris with Skidmore Professor Adrienne Zuerner from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature. The fall 2015 Paris Fall Seminar, titled “Race and Class in France: Remembering Forgotten Pasts,” allows students to explore how contemporary France confronts the history and legacies of slavery, colonization, and other forms of inequality that have shaped the lives and identities of its citizens. The 2015 Paris Fall Seminar offers a lively, multidisciplinary approach to France’s rich and complex history and introduces students to the challenges that communities and individuals face when they lay claim to and make public “shameful” pasts.
The Program and Seminar Director
The Seminar Director for the fall 2015 program is Adrienne Zuerner, Associate Professor of French, who teaches early modern literature and culture, including travel narratives and histories of the French Atlantic slave trade. She is a member of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and regularly teaches in the Gender Studies Program.
The Paris Fall Seminar program, offered every fall, is a faculty-led program designed to offer students an opportunity to study in Paris, even if they have little or no French language skills. The program is hosted by the Skidmore in Paris program, which has been offered since 1980. The Seminar Director position is filled by a different Skidmore professor each year, and past directors have come from the departments of History, Government, Foreign Languages & Literature, and English.
Paris Fall Seminar 2015
Race and Class in France: Remembering Forgotten Pasts
How do countries and individuals remember difficult, traumatic pasts? Study in Paris in fall term 2015 to explore how contemporary France confronts the history and legacies of slavery, colonization, and other forms of inequality that have shaped the lives and identities of its citizens. Guided by Annie Ernaux’s books, students will tour the city and its suburbs to encounter aspects of Paris rarely experienced by Americans. Walking visits in Paris will allow students to explore recently inaugurated public memorials to slavery and its abolition. Students will also travel to Nantes, the Atlantic seaport city and former slave-trading hub, to visit the monumental Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery, built on the very site where slave ships departed. The 2015 Paris fall Fall Seminar 2015 offers a lively, multidisciplinary approach to France’s rich and complex history and introduces students to the challenges that communities and individuals face when they lay claim to and make public “shameful” pasts. No prior French is required to participate in the Paris Fall Seminar, but you will acquire an excellent foundation in the language on the program.
Courses & Credits
Participants enroll in a total of four courses: a French language course, two seminar courses taught by the Seminar director, and one additional course offered at the Skidmore Center or a partner institution in Paris. There is no French language requirement to apply for the Paris Fall Seminar − all courses, except the French language course, are taught in English.
The 2015 Paris Fall Seminar program, Race and Class in France: Remembering Forgotten Pasts, is made up of the following courses for a total of 15-16 credits:
- JPFL 263 At the Crossroads of Literature and Sociology: Annie Eraux's Politically
Engaged Writing (4 credits)
Considered a contemporary classic, writer Annie Ernaux is at once revered and reviled. Although her books are taught in French high schools, a testament to her success with readers and critics, Ernaux remains a controversial figure among the French literary establishment for several reasons: she writes about her working class origins, thereby refusing to silence what French elites consider a “distasteful” subject, and she probes subjects considered unworthy of Literature: female sexuality as seen by a woman, cancer, abortion, Alzheimer’s disease, class difference and privilege, and France’s various “under classes.” In this course, Ernaux’s books serve as a point of departure for addressing a range of literary and socio-historical questions. The course considers the hybrid form of Ernaux’s mature writing, what she calls “auto-socio-biography,” which takes individual lives to be emblematic of larger social identities and groups. Students also explore the political dimensions of her writing, that is, the critical eye that grants visibility to marginalized members of French society, including the poor, the homeless, Muslims, and immigrants, who have not yet fully realized France’s ambitions of equality for all. Taught in English.
JPFL 363B Remembering the French Slave Trade: From Silence to Memorials (4 credits)
Every country has a past it cherishes and one that it would prefer not to remember. The United States, for example, celebrates its role in World War II but struggled for decades to come to terms with the Vietnam War. France is no different: proud of its Republican ideals—liberté, égalité, and fraternité—and its reputation for progress and luxury, it has tried to forget its participation in the Atlantic slave trade. Paradoxically, the transatlantic slave trade flourished in French ports at the very moment when Enlightenment thinkers elaborated the ideals we associate most closely with France. Until recently, silence and historical amnesia characterized French responses to this past: absent in French history books and omitted from school curriculum, France’s three-century long history as a slave trading nation was largely unacknowledged. But with the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 and continuing into the new millennium, France has begun to confront its slave past and to reexamine its national narrative and identity. The recovery of this slave history and France’s various efforts to memorialize it in the public sphere form the subject of this course. Course readings, along with site visits in Paris and a trip to Nantes, invite students to examine: 1) the history of the French slave trade; 2) new scholarship and activism focused on this past and its consequences, and 3) the impact of these for French citizens, including members of the African diaspora, who are insisting that their unique histories and lives become part of French History and Culture. Taught in English.
- French Language - Students will take an exam in Paris to place in the appropriate level of French (beginning to advanced)
- Choose 1 additional course from offered at the Skidmore Center or a partner institution available through the Liberal Arts, Language & Business program. Choose from courses taught in English in art history, business, dance, French & European Studies, English, American Studies, History, Studio Art. Additional course options available for students with advanced French language skills.