If you’ve ever wondered why there’s so much poop in French literature, Harvard University has a class for you.
“Cacaphonies: Toward an Excremental Poetics,” a four-unit course for graduate students taught by assistant professor Annabel Kim this spring, features “a diverse range of scatological texts” from the 20th and 21st centuries, according to the course catalog.
“If literature is excrement, then the canon is a chamber pot,” proposes the course listing.
“French literature, from the Middle Ages to today, has been consistently and remarkably scatological,” reads the course description. “Fecal matter is omnipresent in works and authors that we consider canonical (e.g. the fabliaux, Rabelais, de Sade, Beckett, Celine) and yet its presence has been remarkably submerged or passed over in readerly and critical reception of modern and contemporary French literature.”
The course description proposes excretion as a metaphor for the creative process, noting that “the task of excretion – we excrete what we take in, processing and giving it new form – is also the task of literature.”
The class also will examine how feces affects women in French literature and “the gendering of constipation as a feminine condition.”
The class, designated French 241, will be conducted in English but requires reading in French. It is open to undergraduates with the instructor’s permission.
Kim, an assistant professor of romance languages and literature at Harvard, also teaches courses on French science fiction and queer fictions.
“I am interested in feminist writing and theory, the novel (in particular, the contemporary novel), and, more broadly, the ethical and political implications of writing and reading fiction,” she wrote on her university bio page. “While I specialize in 20th- and 21st-century French literature, I have a soft spot for literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, despite the myriad ways it has of killing off its women.”
Kim could not be reached, and Harvard University declined to comment on the course, reported Fox News.