A French literature professor at Harvard University has cultivated course focused on the poetics of fecal matter for graduate students.
Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literature Annabel Kim offers the course sensibly titled, ‘Cacaphonies: Toward an Excremental Poetics’, which was taught in spring 2017 and presently in the 2018 semester.
The four-credit class ‘proposes to take fecal presence seriously and to attend to the things it has to tell us,’ the course catalog of the Ivy League website reads.
‘By starting with the following premise: If literature is excrement, then the canon is a chamber pot,’ the explanation says further.
A range of diverse readings will cover twentieth and twenty-first century scatological texts in French literature, however, will be taught in English.
Some famed writers noted in the course include François Rabelais, Marquis de Sade, Samuel Beckett and Louis-Ferdinand Céline, according to the description.
The overall goals of the class are as follows: ‘Theorize an excremental poetics where excretion provides a model for the process of writing. The task of excretion, which translates into concrete form our experience of the world.
‘Allow for a new interrogation and critique of the canon and the ways in which it serves to conceal, contain, sanitize, and compel culture,’ the website reads.
The course explanation furthermore will: ‘Provide another angle from which to approach the question of gender and writing, as gender organizes both literature and defecation.
‘Offer an alternative theory of the significance of fecal matter to the dominant one provided by psychoanalysis. The goal of the course is to begin to articulate and realize an original approach to literature that, rather than take feces as a site of disgust, takes it as a site of creation.’
Professor Kim, who earned a bachelor’s degree in French and Art History from Williams College and a Ph.D in French from Yale University, said on her bio page she is interested in feminist writing and theory.
‘More broadly, the ethical and political implications of writing and reading fiction,’ she explains.
‘While I specialize in 20th and 21st-century French literature, I have a soft spot for literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, despite the myriad ways it has of killing off its women.’
Kim most recently published her own novel, ‘The Riddle of Racial Difference in Anne Garréta’s Sphinx.’
She also has two forthcoming publications: ‘Unbecoming Language: Anti-Identitarian French Feminist Fictions’ and ‘Infiltrating Autofiction: Disappearing the Subject in Anne Garréta’s Pas un jour.’