This advanced French literature course explores environmental issues in three units that each consist of readings from both contemporary and historical periods. The first unit considers how the impact of environmental disaster or decline varies according to social class. A contemporary perspective is provided by the graphic novel Le Transperceneige (on which Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film Snowpiercer is based), followed by excerpts of Zola’s nineteenth-century depiction of a mining town, Germinal. This first unit ends with Boileau’s seventeenth-century satirical portrait of life for the rich and the poor in overcrowded Paris. The second unit explores how individual and collective identities are rooted in particular landscapes, and the consequences of displacement. It includes readings of contemporary Cajun French poetry that deal with the expulsion of the Acadians by the British beginning in 1755. The final unit considers the role of literature in the aftermath of natural disasters, and includes Nina Bouraoui’s 1999 novel Le Jour du Séisme about an earthquake in Algeria, and Voltaire’s “Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne.”
Wellman, Sara, “Environmental Issues in French and Francophone Literature,” Legacies of the Enlightenment, accessed October 1, 2023, https://enlightenmentlegacies.org/items/show/133.