Winter intersession 2007

CLASS Connections TITLE


Instructor: Dr. Joseph GARREAU, Professor of French Studies
Office: Coburn 113 D
Voice Mail: 978-934-4297 - Email: joseph_garreau@uml.ed
Home Phone: 617-945-5102
HomePage: http://faculty.uml.edu/jgarreau
"Images of Women in French Cinema" is designed to support the study of gender roles through the discussion and analysis of female roles in French cinema from the post-World War II period to the present. The course will be less theoretical than practical.  it will be grounded in a sociological analysis of French society rather than feminist film theories. All films are in French with English subtitles. Reading of French helpful but not necessary.

By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
- Discuss film as an entertainment medium and its impact as such on female and male audiences.
- Evaluate film as an art form and make independent, critical judgments of the films viewed emphasizing the response to how the film view women and their relationships to society and to other women.
- Evaluate the film messages that film conveys regarding women.
- Discuss the exaggerations that film make about women.
- Analyze the film as a technical achievement, as a showcase for the actor, as a product of a single creative mind, as a moral, philosophical, or social statement, and as an emotional or sensual statement.

        Among the various cinematic themes which have been studied over the past decades, that of the image of women is one of the most interesting, not only because it is a constant theme in world cinema, but also because films are the vehicle most consistently used to produce it.
        Before the Second World War, the myth of the feminine idol played an important role in France that can be understood only by placing it in its historical and cultural context. While it borrowed heavily from imported foreign models (e.g., Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich), it has fulfilled a specific function in the evolution of French history. The mythology of stars did not grow out of a mass culture that was nonexistent in France at the time of its creation, but was rather the imaginary vehicle that helped France to change from a traditional society into a modern nation after World War II.
        However, after the Second World War, the image of women changed drastically. We will consider these changes in their cultural context. We can divide the history of the image of women into three different periods. During a first period (1930-1945), which is not examined in this course, we see the "invention of the mythological" woman. She is defined as a idol, and the function of this myth is to permit the passage from a traditional society to a new, more egalitarian one. During the second period (1945-1968), we witness the invention of eroticism. Here, it is no longer a question of the transition from an economy of subsistence to an economy of consumption, but the opposition between the old values and the new ones. Films permit the creation of a modern mythology of love. The third period (1968 to the present) sees the emergence of a more complex image. Movies describe the impossibility of incarnating the ideal of the preceding period; they rather explore new ways to consider the roles and the images of women, in a society defined by the circulation of commodities.

Students must be aware that moral and artistic criteria differ profoundly between France and the U.S.  This means that some films, such as Betty Blue or The Lover for instance, have explicit sexual and violent content offensive to certain viewers.

As there are no specific textbooks for such a course, all the required readings included in this packet are also posted on the course website: http://faculty.uml.edu/jgarreau/50.378/material.htm

It is imperative that every effort be made to start the class on time.  Sometimes things come up and you may need to miss a class. However, giving the format of this course and the penalty attached to lack of timeliness in handing in your written assignments, missing more than one class will mean that your final grade will be lowered a letter grade for each subsequent class missed.

- 11 take-home personal reaction papers or answers to questions handed in - or emailed - as scheduled (see handout).  Papers will be graded as follows on a scale of 9  (9= A; 9- = A-; 8.5= B+; 8= B; 7= C ) with 7 points for content, 1 for timeliness (strictly respected), 1 for accuracy of spelling (80%)
- a comprehensive take-home final exam that will be submitted via email on the date of the scheduled final exam (20%).