University of Notre Dame

Soooo French

ROFR 20608: Soooo French

Prerequisites: ROFR 20202 or ROFR 20215 or ROFR 20300 or ROFR 20305 or CEFR score of 401

Soooo French! Irreverent, non-conformist, tasteless, nasty, irresponsible, this is the vocabulary that has often been used in order to describe the French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo. Before the January 7 attacks that killed twelve of its cartoonists, staff and guests, Charlie Hebdo had constantly been targeted for its way of destroying symbols, of breaking down taboos, of bursting bubbles of fantasy as one of its cartoonists, the survivor Luz, declared shortly after the attack. This publication is full of French humor and [its] way of analyzing things à la française he added. What is so French here? What is French humor about? The weekly magazine dates back to the late sixties; it finds its ideological roots in the opposition to the wars of decolonization and May 68… but also in a whole journalistic tradition that began with Honoré Daumier and his editor Charles Philipon, when Daumier drew the head of King Louis-Philippe as a pear in 1831 and was put on trial for lèse-majesté for this daring act. Through many examples taken from popular culture (cinematic comedies, parodic representations of politics, of society, comedians, cartoons, radio and TV shows, etc.), we will try define the highly idiosyncratic French humor ranging from laughter to drama and we will isolate three different sources: the grotesque, satire, and mockery.

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