FREN4105 - Dominating Texts?

Value: 0.5 course units
Professor Mairéad Hanrahan
Teaching structure:
one unseen three-hour written examination (100%).

Module Description:

This module will focus in depth on the first volume of the novel which perhaps more
than any other work dominated French literature in the twentieth century, Proust’s A
la recherche du temps perdu, before studying texts by a number of other important
writers who wrote in Proust’s wake. Domination inevitably implies a power struggle;
at the heart of the questions the module will explore is the relationship between
literature and power. By means of close textual analysis, we shall examine how the
prescribed texts all thematise domination in some form, notably with regard to social
and sexual relations. Sometimes they universalise it, suggesting that intersubjective
relations are necessarily hierarchical; sometimes they explore the possibility of
subverting it, beckoning towards a mode of relation that need not involve the
submission of one element to another, positing the existence of a non-subordinating
dominance, a dominance that does not dominate. The texts also raise questions of
intertextual domination: what makes for a specifically literary power? is beauty a form of power? does a very powerful text overshadow others, or on the contrary call them into being in response to its appeal? Finally, the seminars will discuss the power relationship between reader and text: is a powerful text precisely one that can never be mastered? And, if reading is not an exercise in domination, what is it?

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann (Folio).
  • Marguerite Duras, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (Folio).
  • Marguerite Duras, Détruire, dit-elle (Minuit).
  • Jean Genet, Journal du voleur (Folio).
  • Samuel Beckett, Premier amour (Minuit).
  • Samuel Beckett, Nouvelles et Textes pour rien (Minuit).