Module Identifier FRM0230  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew Hussey  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Lecture   12 Hours  
Assessment Continuous assessment   Essay of 2500 words plus commentary of 1500 words on a set text   40%  
  Exam   3 Hours   60%  

Brief description

The notion of 'transgression' is a central theme in French twentieth-century literature related to avant-garde theory. More specifically it is a term which for many French theorists has changed meaning through the course of the century as criticism and critical theory has sought to establish new modules of thought and behaviour. The aim of this module is to examine and analyse the shifting meaning of this term in a selection of texts which engage with specific historical or philosophical debates in avant-garde circles. The theme of transgression will therefore be studied with regard to the novelistic practice of Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Michel Houellebecq alongside articles by key critics and commentators.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:

Those students who wish to go on with their studies should be able to demonstrate that they have a solid foundation for postgraduate research.


week 1: Evil words: Transgression and the Avant-Garde: an introduction
week 2: 'The Cut': Reading Bataille's 'Histoire de l'oeil'
week 3: 'Visions of Excess': The case of Madame Edwarda
week 4: 'Bataille après tout': Bataille in critical context
week 5: 'Je nomme violence une audace...': Genet and the cult of inversion
week 6: Bataille's reading of 'Le Journal du Voleur'
week 7: Derrida' reading of 'Le Journal du Voleur'
week 8: 'L'Animal Oméga': The Moral Universe of Michel Houellebecq
week 9: 'Standard régime': Houellebecq as poet and prophet
week 10: Post-modern fictions
week 11: Student presentations and Conclusions (two sessions)

Reading Lists

Georges Bataille. (1982) Histoire de l'oeil. Gallimard
Georges Bataille. (1982) Madame Edwarda. Gallimard
Georges Bataille. (1957) La Litterature et le mal. Gallimard
Malcolm Bowie. (1976) 'La Crue de L. Finas' in French Studies, no. 30, pp. 496-497.
Jacques Derrida. 'De l'economie restreinte a l'economie generale: un hegelianisme sans reserves' in L'Arc, 32 (1967), pp.24-24. Reprinted in L'Ecriture et la difference in Editions du Seuil, 1967, pp.369-409.
Andrew Hussey. (2000) The Inner Scar: The Mysticism of Georges Bataille. Rodopi
Susan Rubin Suleiman. (1986) 'Pornography, Transgression and the Avant-garde: Bataille's Story of the Eye' in The Poetics of Gender, ed. Nancy K. Miller, pp. 117-38. Columbia University Press
Jean Genet. (1978) Le Journal du Voleur. Gallimard
Jeanette L. Savona. (1979) Jean Genet. Macmillan
Jacques Derrida. (1974) Glas. Galilee
Bettina L. Knap. (1968) Jean Genet. Columbia University Press
Georges Bataille. (1957) 'Genet' in La Litterature et le mal. Gallimard
Michel Houellebecq. (1998) Les Particules Elementaires. Flammarion
Michel Houellebecq. (1996) Rester Vivant. Flammarion
Andrew Hussey. Animal Omega: The Dubious Moral Universe of Michel Houellebecq, Planet 142, pp. 22-32.
Michel Onfray. 'L'ecriture est une fete' Revue Perpendiculaire 4, pp. 5-12.
Elisabeth Barille. (1997) Laure, La Sainte de l'abime. Flammarion
Maurice Blanchot. (1955) L'Espace litteraire. Gallimard
Jacques Derrida. (1967) De la Grammatologie, p. 214. Gallimard
Jacques Derrida. (1987) Psyche, Inventions de l'autre. Galilee
Patrick ffrench. (1995) The Time of Theory. Clarendon Press
Philippe Forest. (1995) Histoire de Tel Quel. Éditions du Seuil
Martin Jay. (1994) Downcast Eyes. University of California Press
Pierre-Jean Jouve. (1985) Vagadu. Gallimard
Jérome Peignot (ed.). (1978) Laure, Ecrits, fragments, lettres. Jean-Jacques Pauvert
Michel Leiris. (1988) L'Age d'homme. Gallimard