Undergraduate Course Descriptions

01:420:481 - Senior Seminar in French Culture - Comics in French from 1830 to 2020

  • Credits: 3

Prerequisites: 01:420:315 or 01:420:316; one additional 300-level in French recommended.

Course description: This course will survey the art form known in French as “bande dessinée,” from its beginnings – that is, its invention during the Romantic era by the Swiss educator Rodolphe Töpffer, and its emergence several decades later in the mass culture of the 1890s – to its remarkable development in France (and Belgium) throughout the 20th century, resulting in the extraordinary (though still controversial) popularity it enjoys today, among children and adults alike. Comparisons with the parallel evolution of “comics” in the United States will help us understand what is specific (or not) to the French avatar of this art. We will study examples from all the great classics of the genre, from Töpffer’s Histoire d’Albert to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and beyond.

Language of instruction: French

Course URL: A Sakai site will be available at the beginning of the semester.

Course Satisfies Learning Goals:

  • To develop analysis and synthesis abilities, in writing and orally, via the study of historical, literary, and artistic sources
  • To learn about the history of one art form – comics – in French (not just in France) and understand the cultural context(s) of its emergence and evolution, as well as the transformations of its readership
  • To learn how to analyze comics from a formal standpoint, in terms of their (convergent or divergent) uses of text and image for narrative or descriptive purposes

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy: Grades will be derived from a combination of two short papers, one oral presentation, one MidTerm exam, one final paper, and regular homework assignments.

Required books:

Hergé, Tintin au Tibet, Casterman ISBN-10 : 9782203001190 ISBN-13 : 978-2203001190

René Goscinny et Albert Uderzo, Astérix chez les Bretons, Hachette  ISBN-10 : 9782012101401   ISBN-13 : 978-2012101401

Jacques Tardi, Adèle et la Bête, Casterman ISBN-10 : 2203148446 ISBN-13 : 978-2203148444

Enki Bilal, La foire aux immortels, Casterman ISBN-10 : 2203353279 ISBN-13 : 978-2203353275

Jean-Claude Denis, L’ombre aux tableaux et autres histoires, Glénat ISBN-10 : 2723480666 ISBN-13 : 978-2723480666

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis, tome 1, L’Association ISBN-10 : 2844140580 ISBN-13 : 978-2844140586

Sandrine Revel, Glenn Gould. Une vie à contretemps, Dargaud ISBN-10 : 2205070908 ISBN-13 : 978-2205070903

Faculty: Professor François Cornilliat