RCLANG 320 - Seminaire en francais
Section: 001 Au Coeur de l'amitie: A Multidisciplinary Study of the Concept of Friendship
Term: FA 2017
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 Christians eras, the Renaissance and “l’Ancien Régime”, leading us up to today. From the philosophical tradition, we will read what represents a modest selection of the many contributors to this concept. Aristotle, Epicure and Cicero will lead our study that will then focus, with the exception of Kant, on French thinkers such as Montaigne, La Rochefoucault, La Bruyère, Vauvenargues, Saint-Exupéry and Derrida.

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).

Our investigation will close with a discussion on how social media are impacting the very notion of friendship.

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 close reading of texts will be supplemented by a few songs and two films, Mon meilleur ami by Patrice Leconte and Les amitiés maléfiques by Emmanuel Bourdieu.

Course Requirements:

Attendance is required. Course work will include four analytical essays, one piece of creative writing and a presentation. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions.

Intended Audience:

This class is open to RC students who have successfully passed the RC French Proficiency Exam. Priority is given to students who passed the exam the previous term.

Class Format:

This is a seminar type course which meets twice a week for 90 minutes.

RCLANG 320 - Seminaire en francais
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
Dollar Bill, 611 Church
Livre : Le dernier ami, Tahar Ben Jelloun ISBN 2020654121 Ed. du Seuil Paris 2004. Les details se trouvent sur Canvas.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for RCLANG 320 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)