FREN 6667

Image of Machine in 19-20C Lit

The Image of the Machine in Literature (19th-20th Century)

The purpose of this course is to study the various aspects of the image of machines and mechanical devices as developed in French fiction from the mid-19th century. First we will place this image in its contemporary scientific, social and historical contexts, and look for its early appearance both in poetry and novels around 1850.

We will then consider three instances of the literary representation of machines in the late 19th century French novel : 1/ the realist representation in Zola’s La Bête humaine (1890). We will study the various meanings of the image of trains and locomotives : technical (engines and railways), philosophical (the machine as a progress and history maker), and phantasmatic meanings (erotic and killing impulses). 2/ literary fantasy in Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1870). We will look at the Nautilus, captain Nemo’s submarine, successively as a machine, a luxurious and marvelous masterpiece, a powerful adventure and drama booster, an instrument of knowledge, but also as a dangerous incitement to pride and violation of the natural and divine interdicts. 3/ the fantastic vision of science and technique in Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s L’Ève future (1886), a strange narrative about an artificial creature and a search for ideal love. We will examine the various technical, moral and metaphysical aspects of this rich and unappreciated novel.

Finally we will study the further developments of the literary image of the machine, picking different examples from 20th century French literature : adventure and science fiction, futurist poetry glorifying energy and modern beauty provided by machines, surrealist and structuralist attempts to control the mechanism of language.

Required texts :
Emile ZOLA, La Bête Humaine, ISBN 978-2-0812-0291-7
Jules VERNE, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, ISBN 2-07-042483-9
Auguste VILLIERS DE L’ISLE-ADAM, L’Ève future. ISBN 2-07-038739-9
Language School
Requirements Fulfilled:

Sections in Summer 2015 Language Schools, LS 3 Week Session I

Summer 2015 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

FREN6667A-L15 Lecture (Noiray)