JFF 1102HS

Animages / Animots / Animotions: Mediating Animals - lundi 11h - 15h

Schedule :

Monday 11 am - 3 pm   

Instructor :

J. Cahill

Location :

Innis College

Room :

Innis 223

Description :

Animal films reveal the cinema to us. —André Bazin 

The essence of cinema becomes a story about animals. —Serge Daney

Even before the so-called “animal turn” in critical theory and the humanities more broadly, exemplified by Jacques Derrida’s presentation of “L’animal que donc je suis” at Cerisy in 1997, moving image media, in practice and theory, has been deeply enmeshed in thinking with and about animals. From the animorphic paintings of creatures on the walls of the Lascaux caves to the role of animals as raw material for filmic emulsions, to the centrality of animal research to the development of the technologies and techniques of cinema (in the laboratories of Étienne-Jules Marey and other physiologists), to the fascination with animal life at the level of content, animals have been of primary concern for media. This joint French Literature and Film (JFF) seminar will examine key approaches to thinking about media through animals and animals through media, with special attention to the French and Francophone traditions of thought. Our enquiries will be organized around three key themes—animages (or animal images and questions of their epistemic and magical properties), animots (Derrida’s term for animal-words and the enframing of animal life within anthropocentric representational systems, as well as broader inquiries into the animations of language, metaphor, and figuration), an animotions (or the forms of movement, emotion, and affect expressed by or invested in animals and media). Through these terms we will ask what media can teach us about animals (why and how we look at animals on screen, how we represent and understand animals, what lessons or pleasures we gain or hope to gain from watching them)? What can animal media reveal or teach us about any given medium and forms of mediation? What are the aesthetic, ethical, philosophical, and political stakes of encounters between animals and media? 

Readings will be provided in French and English and include:  

Daniel Arasse, “Le regard de l’escargot,” in On n’y voit rien: déscriptions (Paris: Denoël, 2000). André Bazin, Écrits complètes (Paris: Macula, 2019) selections: “Entomologie de la Pin Up Girl,” “Pour contribuer à une érotologie de la télévision,” “Montage interdit,” “Mort tous les après-midi.”  

Roland Barthes, “En sortant du cinéma,” Communications 23 (1975): 104-107.  

Georges Bataille, Lascaux ou la naissance de l’art (Geneva: Skira, 1955).  

Raymond Bellour, Le Corps du cinéma: hypnoses – émotions – animalités (Paris: POL, 2009) selections.  

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Gauttari, “1730: devenir-intense, devenir-animal, devenir-imperceptible” in Mille plateaux (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1980), 284-380.  

Jacques Derrida’s L’Animal que donc je suis (Paris: Éditions Gallilée, 2006) and La Bête et le sovereign, t. 1 & 2 (Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2008-2010), selections.  

Vinciane Despret, Que diraient les animaux , si… on leur posait les bonnes questions? (Paris: La Découverte, 2016), selections, and Autobiographe d’un poulpe et autres récits d’anticipation (Paris: Actes Sud, 2021), selections.  

Georges Didi-Huberman, “Le paradoxe du phasme” and “Images-contacts,” in Phasmes – Apparition (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1998).  

Akira Mizuta Lippit, Electric Animal (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).   

Paul Valéry, “Animalités” in Mélanges (Paris: Gallimard, 1941), 161-164.  

Simone Weill, La Pesanteur et la grace (Paris: Plon, 2019), selections. 

Film screenings will include: 

Acera, ou le bal des sorcières and other short film by Jean Painlevé and Geneviève Hamon (1928-1982) 

Adieu au langage (Jean-Luc Godard, France, 2014) 

Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, France, 1966) 

Les Aventures d’une mouche bleue (Pierre Thévenard, France, 1954) 

Bird People (Pascale Ferran, France, 2014) 

Crin blanc (Albert Lamorisse, France, 1953) 

La Griffe et le dent (François Bel and Gérard Vienne, France, 1976) 

Max, mon amour (Nagisa Oshima, France, 1986) 

Microcosmos: le peuple de l’herbe (Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, France, 1996) 

Mon oncle d’amérique (Alain Resnais, France, 1980) 

Nénette (Nicolas Philibert, France, 2011) 

Onésime aime les bêtes (Jean Durand, France, 1913) 

Le peuple migrateur (Jacques Perrin, France, 2001)  

Le Roman du Renard (Ladislaw Starevich, France, 1941) 


Research paper 15-20 pages, due 12 December (40%)  

Research paper proposal, 1-2 pages, due 11 November 

Research presentation, due 5 December (20%) 

4 short reading responses (1 single-spaced page each) developing a key question or line of thought in relation to course readings (20%) or 2 short reading responses (10%) and 1 syllabus draft for an alternative iteration of a seminar on exploration (10%).  

Participation (20%)