Suzanne Valadon, The Blue Room

Proust in Time: The Fugitive

Instructor: Rebecca Ariel Porte
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Marcel Proust’s The Fugitive, the sixth and penultimate volume of In Search of Lost Time, reckons with obsessive love and its aftermath. In it, Albertine, the narrator’s erstwhile lover, is a spectre. But she is far from the only ghostly thing about the tail end of Proust’s epic, whose specters include Alfred Agostinelli (Proust’s secretary and chauffeur and the lost object of his desire), queer desire, the self-consuming ruin of the belle époque world of Proust’s youth, and the devastating transformations of World War I. Even the prose of this part of the novel is a little phantasmic—Proust did not live to revise it to his satisfaction, though glimmers of his design can still be made out in his papers.

In this class, we’ll ask what is alive and what is dead in The Fugitive. What can memory salvage from a ruptured history? Can art compensate us for our losses and our thwarted desires? Can a peace be brokered between nostalgia and the demands of the present? How does Proust make use of modern psychoanalytic theory, science, cognition, and sociality? What are the novel’s aesthetic and political commitments? How should we understand Proust’s work as queer literature and Jewish literature? How should we situate In Search of Lost Time among the complex currents of 19th- and early-20th-century modernism? What does it mean to read Proust now? And, as ever, what does it mean to read Proust in time?

The translation of record will be the Modern Library edition (Moncrieff, Kilmartin, and Enright). Supplementary materials will emphasize selections from Proust’s critical tradition as well as entries in the history and theory of sexuality. These are likely to include: Theodor Adorno, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Leo Bersani, Bowie, Michel Foucault, Gérard Genette, Julia Kristeva, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, Eve Sedgwick, Roger Shattuck, et. al.

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
February 01 — February 22, 2022
4 weeks


Registration Open

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