Steven Ungar

Making Waves: Documentary Film in Perspective
Thursday, January 29, 2009 - 7:00pm
Kane 120

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Steven Ungar is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and a Collegiate Fellow at the University of Iowa. A scholar of twentieth-century French literature, intellectual history, and film, he is the author of six books on French culture, including Roland Barthes: The Professor of Desire (1983), Scandal and Aftereffect: Blanchot and France Since 1930 (1995), Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture (co-authored with Dudley Andrew, 2005), and Cléo de 5 à 7 (2008). Recent publications include articles on the literary figures Patrick Modiano, W.G. Sebald, and Milan Kundera.

Ungar’s book-in-progress, Making Waves: French Documentary Film 1945-1967, studies fifteen postwar films that contributed to the emergence of the French New Wave. Chapters devoted to documentaries about Paris, anti-colonialism, and cinéma vérité draw on films by Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, Jean Rouch, and Georges Franju to reconsider the social, cultural, and political histories of Fourth and early Fifth Republic France.

 In 2006, the French Ministry of Education named him Chevalier dans L'Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

Course -  Winter 2009 

HUM 596A/ C Lit 569A/ FR 570A Making Waves: French Postwar Documentary, 1945-1967

 M-Th – 5:30 – 7:20 PM – Communications 243

This seminar studies documentary filmmaking in France during the two decades following the end of the 1940-1944 Nazi occupation. It also explores links between documentary practices and the emergence of the French New Wave, whose impact on filmmaking between 1959 and 1968 was worldwide. Analyses of individual films will alternate with contextual approaches to social and political crises of the period such as U.S.-style modernization, the Cold War, decolonization, and generational clashes involving an emergent youth culture. Films to be studied include The Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju), Night and Fog and All the Memory of the World (Alain Resnais), L’Opéra Mouffe (Agnès Varda), Chronicle of a Summer (Jean Rouch), The Merry Month of May and The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (Chris Marker), and Statues Also Die (Resnais and Marker).

Steven Ungar is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and a Collegiate Fellow at the University of Iowa. A scholar of twentieth-century French literature, intellectual history, and film, Ungar has written six books on French culture, including Roland Barthes: The Professor of Desire (1983), Scandal and Aftereffect: Blanchot and France Since 1930 (1995), Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture (2005; co-authored with Dudley Andrew), and Cléo de 5 à 7 (2008).  Recent publications include articles on the literary figures Patrick Modiano, W.G. Sebald, and Milan Kundera.

 Requirements: Knowledge of French recommended but not required. Readings and discussion will be in English. When possible, screenings will be subtitled.