FREN4209 - Cultures of AIDS in France: History, Policy and Representation

Value: 0.5 course units
James Agar
Teaching structure:
two assessed 3000 word essays (100%).

Module Description:

This module will examine the development of representations and debates around
AIDS in France from the early 1980s to the close of the twentieth century. The module will take a broadly cultural studies approach and, through the analysis of political and sociological texts, will examine the role of French medical research in the isolation and naming of the virus/disease and the development of French government policy toward the disease in terms of prevention campaigns and political rhetoric. We shall also study, in depth, a range of ‘literary’ and filmic texts which address the issue of AIDS and debates around AIDS. The module will address a range of themes related to these interlinking areas: government policy versus non-government sponsored AIDS activism in France; the setting up and development of self-help organisations; issues related to gender and (gay) sexuality; the individual and different notions of community; the politics of representing and ‘reading’ AIDS. Although the focus will be on AIDS in France, comparison will be made with other countries and cultures in order to highlight some of the ideological and political inflections specific to AIDS in modern France.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

‘Literary’ texts

  • Alain-Emmanuel Dreuilhe, Corps à corps: journal de sida (Paris: Gallimard, Collection ‘Au vif du sujet’, 1987) [departmental copies will be available if you find this text impossible to find].
  • Hervé Guibert, A l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie (Paris: Folio, 1990).
  • Vincent Borel, Un ruban noir (Paris: Actes Sud/Babel, 1995).
  • Guillaume Dustan, Dans ma chambre (Paris: P.O.L., 1996).

Filmic texts (viewings will be arranged)

  • Hervé Guibert, La Pudeur ou l’impudeur (video-diary, 1990-91).
  • Cyril Collard, dir., Les Nuits fauves (feature film, 1992).

History and policy

  • ACT Up-Paris, Le Sida combien de divisions? (Paris: Dagorno, 1994)
  • Frédéric Martel, Le Rose et le noir: Les Homosexuels en France depuis 1968 (Paris: Seuil, 1996).