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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2022

FREN 53.09 Literary Theory in French (Semiotics and Reading)

How can we describe the nature of the relation binding a word to a thing, languages to worlds? How do we know that a word “stands for” (or, represents) an idea, an emotion, a thing, a place, or a person? How do we know what a thing like a stoplight is telling us, that it is standing in for not merely an idea but a system? In what way are the apparently most unassuming things—our clothing, our vacation plans, our hometowns or the food we eat—“saying” things about us and the world, and how might the different answers to such questions change the ways in which we think about ourselves, others, our world(s)? Such questions are the domain of what we call semiotics (or: the general science of signs, as Ferdinand de Saussure famously put it) and in this course, we will study some of the core theoretical formations from the twentieth century which allow us not only to ask “what do signs do and how?,” but to grapple with what “the stake of signs” (what they are, how they function) may entail for us linguistically, aesthetically, philosophically, and politically. Along with texts ranging from de Saussure to Derrida, we will also seek to bridge the gap not merely between text (i.e., signs) and context (the social-historical situations in which they get produced and produce meaning), but between theory and literature as well.

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:LIT; Lang:LRP; WCult:CI

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