Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Hélène Tissières


Associate ProfessorPh.D., 2001, French, New York University

Hélène Tissières

Contact

Interests


African (North and sub-Saharan) literature written in French, Caribbean literature written in French, African and French film, African contemporary art, Dakar Biennale of Contemporary African Art, West African music, recent French literature (immigration).

Biography


Research

Hélène Tissières's works break down barriers between North and sub-Saharan Africa and between the arts. In her book Écritures en transhumance entre Maghreb et Afrique subsaharienne (2007), she investigates several circulations: geographic – between North and sub-Saharan Africa; cultural – between orality and writing; and aesthetic – between literature and painting. This led her also to analyze the silences that arise from fragmented writing. In one of the chapters, she draws links between writing and painting, showing that the writers Khatibi, Meddeb and Farès use signs or painting in order to transmit information that goes beyond language. This approach emphasizes that the arts are closely linked throughout the continent and that signs migrate from one object or medium to another. The second part of the book documents these circulations in the works of four writers: the Tunisian Abdelwahab Meddeb, whose texts refer to contemporary painting, tracing a parallel between abstraction and Sufism; the Cameroonian Werewere Liking and the Congolese Tchicaya U Tam’Si, both of whom incorporate elements from the oral tradition and are inspired by ritual or divination systems; and the Algerian Assia Djebar who invests visual images, moving away from relying solely on the use of language. 

Thanks to a Fulbright Hélène Tissières taught at the University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal, from 2003-05 and has since been writing on the Dakar Biennale of Contemporary African Art. In 2011, she taught for six months at Kwara State University, Nigeria. Her second book entitled Créations et défis au Sénégal: Sembène, Diop, Diadji et Awadi (2013) is about the works of four Senegalese figures: Ousmane Sembene, writer and filmmaker, Boubacar Boris Diop, novelist, Iba Ndiaye Diadji, art critic and Didier Awadi, rapper. It examines how they position themselves to question social norms, political or religious absolutes, and international prerogatives. In Senegal, where the practice of Maslaa regulates people’s exchanges and promotes tolerance and politeness, this study shows how these writers confront taboos (role of women, corruption, social inequalities), while unsettling norms.

Interested in the way the arts are intertwined throughout Africa, she has been writing on literature, visual arts (in particular painting), film and music. Her book Écritures en transhumance (2007) appeared in English (2012) at Virginia University Press (2012), translated by Marjolijn de Jager: Transmigrational Writings between the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa: Literature, Orality, Visual Arts

Presently Hélène Tissières is curating a major exhibition in Switzerland as homage to the Dakar Biennale. It will show the works of 30 established contemporary African artists who have participated in the Dak’Art from 2004 to 2014, such as Akomfrah, El Anatsui, Binebine, Erruas, Dime, Keita, Lô. The exhibition will run from June 10 to September 18, 2016 in Martigny, Switzerland at the Manoir and in different museums and public spaces throughout the city. Several artistic mediums will be showcased: painting, photography, video installations, and sculpture. A catalog of over 100 pages that explains the work of each artist will be published.

 

Affiliated Research/Academic Unit

• Centre for Middle Eastern Studies

• Comparative literature program

• Center for European Studies

Courses


FR 340C • The Arts In France

35810 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 2.118

DESCRIPTION:

Over the course of the term, we will be looking at the development of the arts in Europe, focusing particularly on France. However, as artists are constantly influenced by and in dialogue with what is going on in the world, we will be brought to discuss arts from other countries (Egypt, Greece, Italy, etc.). We will start with the prehistoric cave art and study key periods, styles and movements: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Rococo, Realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Surrealism, Modernism, etc. We will also take the opportunity to discuss contemporary African art, as France had many colonies in Africa and at present, many French artists from African descent are producing interesting work. As fashion is an important component of French life, we will also be discussing important designers.

 

Students will be asked to keep up with the reading and writing assignments, coming well prepared, participating fully in class discussions.

 

Exam 1                                                20%

Exam 2                                                20%

Exam 3                                                20%

Presentation                                         10%

Class participation, homework                15%

improvement & team work

Journal                                                  15%

FR 390N • North/Sub-Saharan Afr Theatre

35860 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CLA 0.124

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

 

We will be studying plays written in French from North and sub-Saharan African authors, examining the treatment of similar themes that denounce in many cases the violent and absurd political context. Over the course of the term, we will analyze the use of theatrical devices, discussing the history of francophone African theatre and the different approaches used. Theatre is a powerful mode of expression that involves stage setting, interactions of actors, costumes, in certain instances music and dance. Writers incorporate ancient procedures such as rituals (use of masks), village performances, adapting them to present needs and concepts, staging at times an inner quest as well as raising a variety of disturbing questions. We will also be discussing the use of words and staging by musicians and analyzing two films that are inspired by music and theatre.

READINGS:

 

- Kateb Yacine                         Les Ancêtres redoublent de férocité

- ___________                        La boucherie de l’espérance

- Assia Djebar                         Rouge l'aube

- Cheick Alio Ndao                 L’exil d’Albouri

- Bernard Dadié                       Les Voix dans le vent

- Sony Labou Tansi                 La parenthèse de sang

- Tchicaya U Tam'Si                Le Zulu

- _______________                Le Destin glorieux du maréchal Nnikon, Nniku

- Werewere Liking                  La puissance de Um

- ––––––––––––––                  Un Touareg s’est marié à une Pygmée

- Abdelwahab Meddeb            La gazelle et l'enfant

  

SECONDARY READINGS:

- John Conteh-Morgan            Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa

- Marie-José Hourantier          Du Rituel au theatre-rituel

- Gilbert and Tompkins           « Traditional Enactements : Ritual and Carnival » in Post-Colonial Drama.

 

FILMS :

- Djibril Diop Mambety          Hyenas

- Sene Absa                          Madame Brouette

 

ASSIGNMENTS AND COMPUTATION OF GRADE:

Students will be asked to keep up with the reading assignments and fully participate in class discussions as well as prepare oral presentations.

            Essay: 70%

            Class participation: 15%

            Oral presentation: 15%

Class is taught in French. However for Comparative Literature students, readings can be read in English when available. 

FR 358 • Banlieue & France:film/Lit/Rap

36060 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BEN 1.108

FR 358 H. Tissières

Spring 2015

 

Banlieue & France: films, lit. & Rap

 

Description:

This course will be looking at a range of established literary and cinematographic productions as well as Rap creations from French-Africans, in order to understand the issues faced regarding identity, marginalization and cultural intertwinements in France. This will bring us to analyze their position on exile, alienation, discrimination and otherness. To ground class discussions, we will be looking at essays by prominent specialists on the banlieue, which will help us understand the overall political and cultural context.

 

Films:

            Kassovitz                                La Haine

         Ruggia                                     Le Gone du Chaaba

            Kechiche                                 La graine et le mulet

            Allouache                                Harragas

 

Literature:

Abd al Malik                           Qu’Allah bénisse la France

Fatou Diome                           Le ventre de l’Atlantique

Akhenaton                              La face B

 

Secondary works:

Selection of works

 

Rap

Abd el Malik

Awadi

 

Requirements and computation of grade:

Students will be asked to keep up with the reading, cinematographic and writing assignments, coming well prepared, participating fully in class discussions.

Short reflection paper (2 pages)         10 %

Mid-term exam                                   25%

Final exam                                           25%

Presentation                                        10%

Class participation, homework,          15%

improvement & team work

Journal                                                            15%

 

Plus and minus grades will be used for final course grade.

FR 382L • French/Africa: Cult, Iden, Art

36080 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM HRH 2.106C

FR 382L: Graduate Course                                     Taught by Hélène Tissières

Spring 2015                                                              

 

French – African: cultures and identities

 

Films:

Sembene                                 La noire de…

Awadi                                     Le point de vue du lion

Sissako                                   Heremakono  

Allouache                                Harragas

Ruggia                                     Le Gone du Chaaba

Kassovitz                                La haine

Kechiche                                 L’esquive       

Kechiche                                 La graine et le mulet

Nouri Bouzid                          Making off

                       

Readings:

 

Tahar ben Jelloun                    Partir

Abd al Malik                           Qu’Allah bénisse la France!

Fatou Diome                           Celles qui attendent

Marie Ndiaye                          En famille

Rachid Djaidani                       Boumkoeur

 

Music:

 Abd al Malik                           Gibraltar, Chateau Rouge

Medine                                    Candidat libre, etc.

           

 

Political analysis:

            Le monde diplomatique

            Le Courrier International

            Libération

            Etc.

                       

Works by Domic Thomas, Michel Laronde, Azouz Begag, etc.

 

Course description:

 

This course will be looking at the discussions, tensions, artistic creations (film and literature) around the question of immigration, identity and cultural intertwinements in France through the African diaspora. This will bring us to analyze the position of writers and filmmakers on exile and alterité (otherness). To ground class discussions, we will be looking at a wide range of films and literary creations which will tackle burning subjects such as exclusion, alienation, discrimination.

  

Assignments and computation of grade:

 

Students will be asked to keep up with the reading assignments and fully participate in class discussions as well as prepare oral presentations.

            Essays: 70%

            Class participation: 15%

            Oral presentations: 15%

 

 Class is taught in French

FR 340C • The Arts In France

37140 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.108

FLAGS:   GC

A survey of the major artistic styles, modes, and currents in painting, architecture, sculpture, the decorative arts, and costume, from the medieval through the contemporary periods.

Prerequisite: French 320E.

MEETS WITH EUS 347.

FR 358 • African Francophone Literature

37147 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM HRH 2.112

European colonial rule broke up cultures throughout the African continent, imposing Occidental laws, languages, concepts. In turn writers from North and sub-Saharan Africa appropriated colonial languages to denounce the many injustices. Over the course of the term, we will be reading key literary African novels which appeared during the 1950s in order to discuss Pan-African struggles, their political impact, the use of the French language. We will engage in the writers views on colonization and in their philosophical concepts, seeing a wide range of concerns. To better comprehend the texts analyzed, we will view films and read theoretical essays.

F C 345 • Recent French & African Cinema

37025 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GAR 0.128

Please check back for updates.

FR 340C • The Arts In France

36795 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM HRH 2.112

FLAGS:   GC

A survey of the major artistic styles, modes, and currents in painting, architecture, sculpture, the decorative arts, and costume, from the medieval through the contemporary periods.

Prerequisite: French 320E.

MEETS WITH EUS 347.

FR 358 • Afr Francophone Lit: Wmn Voice

36805 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM HRH 2.112

Topics in literature or culture, with a focus on study in depth or on synthesis.

EUS 347 • Development Of The French Film

36360 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 301
(also listed as F C 339)

 

Over the course of the term we will be looking at a wide selection of films from the beginning of filmmaking with the Brother Lumière to the present. This will allow us to engage in historical, cultural, social aspects of French society. We will also take the opportunity to look at Francophone African films as the production is very rich.

 

FILMS BY:

- Brother Lumière 

-  Vigo                                                                       

- Renoir                                                            - Allaouache

- Clouzot                                                           - Kechiche

- Carné                                                             - Sembene

- Godard                                                            - Mambety

- Truffaut                                                           - Sissako

- Resnais                                                            - Moussa Sene Absa

- Varda

 

READINGS:

 A packet of selected essays will be prepared. These will help us discuss the material and look at the many issues presented as well as obtain an understanding of the history of French and Francophone African cinema (Zants, Harrow, etc)

 

ASSIGNEMENTS:

Presentation                                    10%

Mid-term exam                        25%

Final exam                                    25%

Papers and rewrites                        20%

Participation, etc                        20%

FR 372 • Comparative Stylistics

36740 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM HRH 2.112

This course will work on French grammar and French grammatical and idiomatic patters. We will regularly be doing translation, mostly from English to French as well as vocabulary expansion and upper level grammar exercises. 

 

grading policy:

3 tests in class: 75% (25%, 25%, 25%); homework assignments and class participation: 25%.  No Final Exam.

 

Required Readings:

1. R.E. Batchelor & M.H. Offord (3rd edition), Using French. A guide to contemporary French usage.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2. Geneviève (1984), Merde!  New York: Atheneum

3. A reading packet. 

4. Recommended for all upper-level courses:

i. Roger Hawkins and Richard Towell, French Grammar and Usage. NTC Publishing Group, 1997.

ii. Compact Oxford Hachette French/English Dictionary. Also recommended: Online dictionary  http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/dictionary

C L 386 • Caribbean & African Literature

33665 • Fall 2011
Meets MW 12:30PM-2:00PM HRH 2.106C
(also listed as FR 390N)

Description:  This course will examine literary works of the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa from both the colonial and postcolonial period. We will be looking at the various treatments of similar themes (exile, displacement, “errancy”) and be analyzing the different positions taken around the notion of identity. We will try to comprehend the many connections as well as differences between Africa and the Caribbean and between writers by studying in depth the literary works and examining key critical essays written on colonization, identity, “creolisation”. We will also see a few films to enrich our discussions.


READINGS:

- Aimé Césaire Cahier d’un Retour au Pays Natal

- Senghor Choix de poèmes (Packet)

- Daniel Maximin Isolé Soleil

- Jean Metellus Au pipirite chantant (extract)

- Joël DesRosiers Vétiver (extract)

- Maryse Condé Moi Tituba, sorcière … Noire de Salem

- Tchicaya U Tam’Si Les Méduses ou les orties de mer

- Emile Ollivier Passages

 

SECONDARY READINGS:

  - Ki-Zerbo Histoire de l’Afrique noire (extract)

- Césaire Discours sur le colonialisme (extract)

- Glissant Le discours antillais (extract)

- Glissant Introduction à une poétique du divers (extract)

- Depestre Le métier à métisser  (extract)

- Bernabé, Chamoiseau, Eloge de la créolité

   Confiant

 

FILMS:

- Euzhan Palcy Aimé Césaire: Une voix pour l’histoire

- Christian Lara Sucre Amer

- Cheick Oumar Sissoko La Genèse

 

ASSIGNMENTS AND COMPUTATION OF GRADE:

Presentation   20%

Outline final essay 10%

Final Essay 60%

Participation 10%

 

Students will be asked to keep up with the reading assignments and participate in class discussions.

For those outside the French Department, translations may be read.

FR 320E • Advanced French I

36575 • Fall 2011
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM HRH 2.112

Description of FR320E

 

FR 320E • Advanced French I

Prerequisites

FR 612, 312L, 312M, 312N, or the equivalent.

Course Description

This course will be taught in French.

The objective of this course is to improve all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) through a series of communicative tasks (compositions, listening comprehension activities, dictations, oral practice, etc.). Emphasis is placed on diversifying vocabulary, mastering a wider range of grammatical structures, increasing fluency, and developing appropriate rhetorical strategies for essay writing in French. And finally, participants can expect to learn about social issues in the French-speaking world (e.g. role of media in society, immigration, globalization, education, etc.)


Grading Policy

Chapter Exams (4 x 10%) 40%

Oral Exams  (3 x 5%) 15%

Compositions  (4 x 5%) 20%

Daily Assignments  15%

Final Project  10%

FINAL EXAM: NO


Texts

Oukada, Larbi. 2nd Ed. 2012. Controverses. Boston: Thomson/Cengage Heinle. (ISBN textbook 9780495797777; workbook 9781439082065): Required

Hawkins, French Grammar and Usage, (2nd edition), 2001, MCG, ISBN: 9780658017988: Recommended

Oxford, Compact Oxford Hachette French Dictionary, 3rd Ed., Oxford University Press, ISBN: 9780198610717: Recommended

FR 358 • African Francophone Literature

36460 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 302

**TAUGHT IN FRENCH**

African “Francophone” Literature:   Rise of Pan-African struggles

 READINGS:

- Mouloud Mammeri La colline oubliée

- Mouloud Feraoun Le fils du pauvre

- Cheikh Hamidou Kane L’aventure ambiguë

- Ferdinant Oyono Une vie de boy

- Sembene Ousmane Les bouts de bois de Dieu

SECONDARY READINGS:

- Ki-Zerbo Histoire de l’Afrique noire (packet)

- Aimé Césaire Discours sur le colonialisme (packet)

- Albert Memmi Portrait du colonisé (packet)

- Frantz Fanon Les damnés de la terre (packet)

FILMS:

- Sembene Ousmane Camp de Thiaroye. VIDCASS 6104

- Pontecorvo, Gillo The Battle of Algiers. VIDCASS 1193

- Jean-Marie Teno Afrique, je te plumerai. VIDCASS 3840

Texts should be read in advance as well as films seen (Audio Visual Library) with questions and comments prepared  – for day scheduled on calendar. The main readings can be bought at the Coop and the secondary readings are in a packet found at Speedway (Dobie Mall).

 

DESCRIPTION:

European colonial rule broke up cultures throughout the African continent, imposing Occidental laws, languages, concepts. In turn writers from North and sub-Saharan Africa appropriated colonial languages to denounce the many injustices. Over the course of the term, we will be reading key literary African novels which appeared during the 1950s in order to discuss Pan-African struggles, their political impact, the use of the French language. We will engage in the writers views on colonization and in their philosophical concepts, seeing a wide range of concerns. To better comprehend the texts analyzed, we will view films and read theoretical essays.

REQUIREMENTS AND COMPUTATION OF GRADE:Students will be asked to keep up with the reading and writing assignments, coming well prepared, participating fully in class discussions.

 

Short papers (2 pages) 20%

Mid-term exam 25%

Final paper 25%

Presentation 10%

Class participation 20%

 

 

FR 371L • Adv Written And Oral Compos

36485 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.106

*This class will be taught in French*

 

Prerequisites

FR 320E and 322E, or the equivalent

 

Course description

This course involves intensive practice in writing, grammar and oral expression. It requires a thorough revision of grammatical rules to strengthen syntax, idiomatic expression and compositional skills. Over the course of the term, students will be writing short essays, learning how to summarize, develop their ideas, analyze poetical texts, etc. Also they will be asked to read extracts of literary and journalistic texts. Students will also have the opportunity to read a short novel and see a few films to further engage in discussions.

 

Grading Policy 

6 Short essays and literary journal (50%)

Oral Presentation (10%)

2 exams (20%)

Participation, attendance, homework, improvement (20%)

 [No final exam]

 

Texts

 

- Abbadie, Ch. et al. L’expression française, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2003. [Required]

- Hawkins, French Grammar and Usage. [Recommended]

- French Dictionary. [Recommended]

- 501 French Verbs (Barron’s ) or Bescherelle: La Conjugaison pour tous (Hatier). [Recommended]

- Novel required. Title chosen in the fall.

FR 371L • Adv Written And Oral Compos

37705 • Fall 2007
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEN 1.106

FLAGS:   Wr
DESCRIPTION:
The objective of this course is to hone advanced listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in French.  The communicative tasks of the course are built around a semester-long “channel surfing” of French television designed to introduce the class to authentic topics, genres, vocabulary and levels of discourse.  Students will reprise these elements in their own production, which will consist mainly of writing scripts for various genres of programs, and recording short television shows, both scripted and spontaneous.  The goal of these exercises is to help students review, expand and combine individual language skills into a new relationship with French as a living and lively language.

FR 358 • African Francophone Literature

36340 • Spring 2007
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.108

Topics in literature or culture, with a focus on study in depth or on synthesis.

AFR 374C • Contemp Afr Francophone Lit-W

33965 • Fall 2005
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 303

Please check back for updates.

F C 349 • Contemp French & African Lit-W

32540 • Spring 2003
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 228

Please check back for updates.

FR 322E • Adv French II: Oral Emphasis

32715 • Fall 2002
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BAT 217

Description of FR322E

 

FR 322E • Advanced French II

Prerequisites

FR 320E with a grade of at least a C

Course Description

This course will be taught in French.

The objective of this course is to improve all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) through a series of communicative tasks (compositions, listening comprehension activities, dictations, oral practice, etc.). Emphasis is placed on diversifying vocabulary, mastering a wider range of grammatical structures, increasing fluency, and developing appropriate rhetorical strategies for essay writing in French. And finally, participants can expect to learn about social issues in the French-speaking world (e.g. role of media in society, immigration, globalization, education, etc.)

Grading Policy

Chapter Exams (4 x 10%) 40%

Oral Exams  (3 x 5%) 15%


Compositions  (4 x 5%) 20%

Daily Assignments  15%

Final Project  10%

FINAL EXAM: NO

Texts

Oukada, Larbi. 2nd Ed. 2012. Controverses. Boston: Thomson/Cengage Heinle. (ISBN textbook 9780495797777; workbook 9781439082065): Required

Hawkins, French Grammar and Usage, (2nd edition), 2001, MCG, ISBN: 9780658017988: Recommended

Oxford, Compact Oxford Hachette French Dictionary, 3rd Ed., Oxford University Press, ISBN: 9780198610717: Recommended

FR 326L • Intro Fr Lit II: Fr Rev-Pres

32740 • Fall 2002
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CBA 4.340

FLAGS:   GC

FR 326L • Intro Fr Lit II: Fr Rev-Pres

32745 • Fall 2002
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM UTC 3.120

FLAGS:   GC

FR 326L • Intro Fr Lit II: Fr Rev-Pres

32315 • Spring 2002
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BEN 212

FLAGS:   GC

Publications


This book represents several circulations: geographic – between North and sub-Saharan Africa; cultural – between orality and writing; and aesthetic – between literature and painting. In part II, it analyses works by the Tunisian Abdelwahab Meddeb, whose texts refer to contemporary painting, tracing a parallel between abstraction and Sufism; the Cameroonian Werewere Liking and the Congolese Tchicaya U Tam’Si, both of whom incorporate elements from the oral tradition and are inspired by ritual or divination systems; and the Algerian Assia Djebar who turns to visual images, moving away from relying solely on the use of language. 

Curriculum Vitae


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