Eros et Thanatos : le fantastique français (et belge) des 19e et 20e siècles

Focusing on the “coupling” of eroticism and death this course will explore the fantasy and the fantastic in short tales of 19th and 20th century (primarily) French and (secondarily) Belgian literatures, from Prosper Mérimée, Théophile Gautier, Gérard de Nerval and Guy de Maupassant to Maurice Renard, Michel de Ghelderode, Jean Ray, André Pieyre de Mandiargues et al. A few iconic horror films such as Georges Franju’s Les Yeux sans visage will also be included in our discussions and analyses.

As the title of the course suggests the psychoanalytic lens will be used regularly, but only as one of several critical or theoretical approaches (cultural anthropology, myth criticism and religious studies, narratology, genericity, poetics, gender, etc.) whose viability will be tested in an attempt to define the subversive force of a literary mode that contributes to shedding light on the dark side of the human psyche by interrogating the “real,” making visible the unseen and articulating the unsaid. Such broad categories as distortions of space and time, reason and madness, order and disorder, haunting, sexual transgressions, self and other, literalness and allegoricity, supernatural and libido, attraction and repulsion, temptation and redemption will be examined.