UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

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French 265A: I Confess: Self-Narration and Self-Representation from the Novel to New Media



Damon Young, assistant professor in French and Film & Media, is teaching a graduate course in the French department this Fall 2017! This course will also count for Film graduate student credit - for details, please contact Prof. Young or Marcus Norman directly. 

French 265A: I Confess: Self-Narration and Self-Representation from the Novel to New Media

Is the “self” of Rousseau’s Confessions the same as the self of the 21st century digital selfie? To what extent is subjectivity bound up in the means of its technical mediation? This course stages an encounter between histories of autobiography, theories of the subject/subjectivation, and recent developments in media theory. We will ask how the “private self” of an earlier colonial modernity was given form in the novel and the autobiography, then explore how the invention of photography and film refashioned the subject as “ideally visible,” before considering how digital media cultures generate forms of subjectivity for which the defining imperative would no longer be confession but rather circulation. We will spend some time with Foucault’s discussions of the confessional imperative that situates sexuality at the opaque foundation of the modern subject, reading them in relation to critical commentaries on the production of the “I” in literature and philosophy (works by Butler, Paige, Lucey, De Man). We will explore the interrelation of medium, subjectivity, and apparatus in theoretical works by authors that might include Althusser, Deleuze, Debord, Derrida, Baudrillard, Stiegler, and/or Preciado. Throughout, we will draw on specific examples of autobiography and/or self-portraiture in various media forms. Taught in English, with texts available in French or English translation.