What do Don Quixote and Quentin Tarantino’s cinema have in common? What is parody? What does it have to do with irony? In this course we will focus on the notion of parody and the different functions it has played throughout history, such as humorous subversion, criticism, reflection, the debunking of beliefs and hierarchies, and the promotion of innovation. Parody will provide us with a unique viewpoint on the French cultural and literary tradition from the modern era down to the 21st century. We will investigate parody through literary texts by canonical playful authors like Rabelais and Molière and, since parody allows for a dialogue between different codes, this course will also enable us to make strategic forays into the domains of painting, cinema, and comics. We will see movies that play with codified genres such as Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless and will follow Gustave Flaubert’s character Emma Bovary in her migration into a graphic novel. You will become familiar with concepts (e.g. the carnivalesque, intertextuality, pastiche, and imitation) that question the very nature of representation and the idea of originality in literature and art.
This course, taught in French, uses parody as an entrance point to provide first- and second-year students with a first historical overview of French Literature.