FREN-334 Comics—Seriously: French-Language Bandes Dessinées
Fall for 2016-2017
Every year, bandes dessinées outsell all other kinds of books on the French-language market. Public and school libraries stock a large selection, and so do the most serious bookstores—as well as supermarkets and newstands. France has a national museum for bandes dessinées (the CNBDI in Angoulême), whose first director, T. Groensteen, defended a doctoral dissertation at the Sorbonne analyzing the "ninth art" as an original and complex system of communication and expression. Successful Bédéistes in France are as famous as rock stars and leading movie actors, and an anticipated new album may have a first printing of over a million issues (several milllions in the case of Astérix). Yet bandes dessinées are not just a sociological and economic phenomenon: they also enjoy a remarkable presence in the culture at large through citation, allusion, references and pastiche, while quotes from Tintin, Astérix, Iznogoud, Lucky Luke and many others have become idiomatic phrases in the French language. In other words, one cannot pretend to seriously understand the culture of contemporary France without a significant engagement with bandes dessinées. This survey of French language bandes dessinées from 1929 to the present will give students a solid grounding in understanding the social, cultural and economic importance of this medium. It will both provide an introduction to "the classics" and a critical approach to the various ways in which bandes dessinées can be read and appreciated: as a form of expression on a par with literature and film (but unlike either of them), as vehicle for content (notably history), as a cultural artifact, and as a vector for adaptation.
Prerequisites: Non-Majors: FREN-151 and 1 course between 161-251, or instructor's permission. Majors: FREN-250 and FREN-251, or instructor's permission.
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