Instructor: Stefanie Sevcik
Meeting time: Tuesday, 10-12
This seminar explores roles women have played in wars for independence across the French-speaking world. As the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo depicts in his iconic film, The Battle of Algiers (1966), some women fought alongside men carrying bombs in the fight for freedom from the French in Algeria. However, more often, women have forged their own paths parallel to men enacting complex forms of resistance through art, mobilizing domesticity, and protest. Using women in the French Revolution as our starting point, we will engage with women who resist the reductive fantasy of the female freedom fighter throughout the French-speaking world with an emphasis on the case of Algeria. Figures under our investigative lens include Olympe de Gouges who proclaimed a “Declaration of the Rights of Women” in France, Assia Djebar who depicted women playing new roles outside of the home in Algeria, and Lina Mhenni who used social media in Tunisia to show the world injustice taking place under a repressive regime in 2010. Alongside these memoirs, literary texts, historical documents, and films by and about women at war, we will develop a critical vocabulary of women at work reading theorists that include Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Gayatri Spivak, and Judith Butler. Over the course of the semester, we will put these voices in conversation with one another in order to reconstruct alternative histories of resisting oppression in the francophone world and beyond.