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Georges Bataille: Sex, Crime and Literature

at Coucou French Classes - Williamsburg

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$250
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Location:
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
38 Marcy Ave
At Hope St
Brooklyn, New York 11211
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 8
Teacher: Dr. Jake Reeder

What you'll learn in this literature class:

In the past few decades, Georges Bataille has become something of a dirty secret on American bookshelves. Much of his notoriety is due to his erotic novel Story of The Eye, a work where overt symbolism is interwoven with graphic sexuality. His late arrival on the American literary scene and his unique prose make it almost surprising to learn that he was a contemporary of existentialists like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre and surrealists like Andre Breton and Salvador Dali. Additionally, Story of the Eye and his other erotic novels constitute only a small part of his oeuvre: he wrote historical texts, philosophical tomes, essays on art, and various experimental pieces. In this 5-week seminar we will fill in the picture of Georges Bataille. We will consider what effect his sad, difficult upbringing had on his battle with the written word, and we will revisit the ideas of existentialism and surrealism to give a picture of Bataille’s influences and his originality. A brief summary of his position might go something like this: Bataille viewed literature, crime and sexuality as passionate means to transgress the norm. He pursued each with an almost diabolical curiosity. This is quite apparent in his lesser-known work The Trial of Gilles De Rais, a historical examination of a child serial killer from the 15th century.

In this seminar, we will read the long essay at the beginning of The Trial of Gilles De Rais, Story of the Eye and Bataille’s meditation on the latter in the essay “Outline of a Sequel to Story of the Eye.” We will at once consider the biographical and criminal elements inherent in his pornographic novel, while also investigating why perversion and pornography are often inextricable from violent crimes. Though these texts and ideas are only the tip of the iceberg, the hope is to provide a glimpse of Bataille’s breadth and range. All classes will be taught in English, though our teacher is acquainted with the French version of Bataille’s texts, so you are more than welcome to read them in their original language.

Classes will combine lecture with discussion. No reading will be required for the first class, which will give an overview of Bataille’s life in the form of an intellectual biography.

Dr. Jake Reeder received his Ph.D. from Birkbeck College, University of London in Humanities and Cultural Studies. His general area of focus is psychoanalysis and 20th century French philosophy.

Primary Reading:
Story of the Eye
“The Tragedy of Gilles de Rais” from The Trial of Gilles de Rais (Los Angeles, Amok: 1991).

Secondary Reading:
Sontag, Susan, The Pornographic Imagination, “Styles of Radical Will,” 1967.
Barthes, Roland, The Metaphor of the Eye, “Critique,” 1963.
Surya, Michel, Georges Bataille, 2002.

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Refund Policy
Refund must be requested one week before class start date. Class credit can in some cases be transferred to a later class, depending on availability.

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Reviews of Classes at Coucou French Classes (48)

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Georges Bataille: Sex, Crime and Literature
Reviewed by James M. on 10/16/2014
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School: Coucou French Classes

Coucou French Classes

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Coucou Brooklyn is a French language school based on intimate, culturally savvy, native-taught French classes. We’re also a community, allowing students to meet and converse with fellow francophiles over a cup of coffee, browse our library, attend film screenings,...

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