RCLANG 320 - Seminaire en francais
Section: 001 Au Coeur de l'amitie: A Multidisciplinary Study of the Concept of Friendship
Term: FA 2009
Subject: RC Languages (RCLANG)
Department: LSA Residential College
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Proficiency test and permission of instructor.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The abundance of treatises on friendship throughout history, and the profusion of research on the subject nowadays, attest not only to the importance of this human phenomenon — present in all cultures in different forms — but also to the enduring interest in piercing its mystery.

  • What is friendship?
  • What is at its fundamental core?
  • How and why does it emerge between two or more individuals?
  • Is it a form of love?
  • Does it originate from or against collectivity?
  • Does it have enemies?
  • Does it even still exist in today’s world dominated by relations based on self-interest?
  • How does it manifest itself in other cultures?

These are some of the questions which will be discussed in this seminar. We will glean answers from three different fields of investigation, namely psycho-sociology, philosophy and cultural anthropology, which we will consider each in turn.

First, we will discover how friendship manifests itself presently both in the United States and in France. Our readings in psycho-sociology will help us understand the modes through which friendship is constructed, as well as the practices in which it engages. The social dimension of friendship in both these countries will also be highlighted.

Given that any discourse on friendship opens upon the world of sophia, of philosophy, we will then go back in time to the ancient Greek city where the Western idea of friendship was born, and we will see how this idea was transmitted and evolved through the Roman and Christian eras, the Renaissance and “l’Ancien Régime”, leading us up to today. We will read what the main representatives of the philosophical tradition had to contribute to this concept.

We will then pursue our study by taking a world tour and examining the importance of friendship and its practices in non-Western societies (India, Taiwan, Tibet, Burkina Faso) and conclude our investigation by focusing on the cultural differences at play between the way Americans and French people live their friendships.

Readings will be selected from various sources: chapters of psycho-sociological and cultural anthropological studies, articles from professional journals, excerpts of philosophical treatises on friendship. Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Le dernier ami will be read in its entirety. Our study will be supplemented by a few songs and a film.

Students will be required to actively contribute to class discussions and write several essays, both creative and theoretical.

RCLANG 320 - Seminaire en francais
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
14RC Ugrd
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (SEM)
MW 2:00PM - 3:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
Dollar Bill 611 Church St.
Students will be informed when the course pack is ready. 
Students will also need to purchase "Le dernier ami" by Tahar Ben Jelloun. No bookstores will carry this item. It will have to be purchased online. More information is available on CTools.
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