FRENG047 - Mourning and Otherness

Value: 30 credits
Tutors: Dr Jane Gilbert and Professor Mairéad Hanrahan
Teaching structure: weekly 2-hour seminars over one term (10 weeks)
one 6,000-word essay

Module Description:

This module will examine the treatment of mourning in a range of texts from Medieval and contemporary French writing. Is mourning a way of accepting a loss, of recognising that someone or something has died or, alternatively, is it a way of repeating the loss? In other words, does mourning serve to put an end to the sense of loss, allowing the dead to die finally, or is it rather a means of keeping the other alive for the mourner? Does it heal or nourish a wound?

These texts will enable us to explore these questions in relation to a wide range of experiences. Figures of incorporation of different sorts abound, including two extreme forms: cannibalism and incest. We will ask if consuming the other, literally or metaphorically, invites reading as a process of instrumentalisation in which the otherness is assimilated, ‘made similar’ to the self, or rather as one in which the mourner attempts to ensure the survival, in fantasmatic form, of the loss he or she grieves. We will also use the question of mourning, and in particular a mourning which seems to remain untouched by time, to problematize the relationship between texts from two periods chronologically far removed from each other.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Jean Genet, Pompes funèbres (Paris: Imaginaire, 1949)Jean Genet, Funeral Rites, tr. Bernard Frechtman, (London, Panther, 1971)
  • Hélène Cixous, Dedans (Paris: Editions des femmes, 1986 [1969])
    Hélène Cixous, Inside,
    tr. Carol Barko (New York: Schocken Books, 1986)
  • Jacques Roubaud, Le Grand incendie de Londres (Paris, Seuil, 1987)——, The Great Fire of London, Dominic de Bernardi (tr.) (Champaign-Urbana, Dalkey Archive Press, 2005)
  • Le Lai d'Ignaure ou le lai du prisonnier, ed. Rita Lejeune (Brussels: Académie royale de langue et de littérature françaises de Belgique, 1938)English trans.: in Bawdy Tales of the Middle Ages, trans. Robert Eglesfield (London: Tandem, 1967)OR in:
    Bawdy Tales from the Courts of Medieval France
    , trans. Paul Brians (New York: Harper and Row, 1973)
  • La Châtelaine de Vergy, ed. and modern French trans. Jean Dufournet and Liliane Dulac (Paris: Gallimard, 1994)English trans.: ‘The Chatelaine of Vergi’, trans. Eugene Mason, in Lays of Marie de France and Others (London: Everyman, 1911), available online.
  • La Fille du comte de Pontieu, conte en prose, versions du XIIIe et du XVe siècles, ed. Clovis Brunel (Paris: Champion, 1923)English trans. of C13 version: ‘A Story of Beyond the Sea’, trans. Eugene Mason, in Lays of Marie de France and Others (London: Everyman, 1911), available online.
  • Philippe de Rémi, Le Roman de la Manekine, ed. and English trans. Barbara Sargent-baur, Alison Stones and Roger Middleton (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999)

Should all students on the module be competent in modern French, we will also study:

  • Jakemés, Le Roman du Châtelain de Coucy et de la Dame de Fayel, ed. and modern French trans. Catherine Gaullier-Bougassas (Paris: Champion, 2009)

Students with modern French will find interesting :

  • Le Coeur mangé: Récits érotiques et courtois des XIIe et XIIIe siècles, modern French trans. Danielle Régnier-Bohler (Paris: Poche, 1979)(Contains: Ignauré, 11 anonymous Breton lays, Chatelaine de Vergi, La Fille du Comte de Ponthieu, Des Grands Géants, extracts from the Chevalier au Cygne and from the Roman du Châtelain de Coucy et de la Dame de Fayel)