ArnaudBarras.ch ArnaudBarras.ch

ArnaudBarras.ch

Critical, creative and digital writingEcriture critique, créative et numérique

Teaching

Teaching is a lovely job and I'm fortunate to have been practicing it for several years. I taught classes of literary analyses to BA students of the University of Geneva for seven years. I now teach English in highschool (Collège Calvin). Teaching undergraduate BA students was an enriching experience because it enabled me to grow intellectually and socially by tackling important societal issues. Below is a list of the classes I have taught, along with a short description of their content: Spring 2017: Time and Space in Contemporary Fiction [+] Time and space are fundamental dimensions of our reality and of how we experience it. It is no surprise that they would feature prominently in contemporary works of fiction not only as central themes, but also as narrative devices. In this seminar, we investigated the physics, experience and narratology of time and space as presented in fictional works ranging from films and novels to short stories. Analyzing the representation of space and time and their function in the structure of these contemporary narratives allowed us to envision spatiotemporality not only as a physical attribute of the material world, but as the very foundation of our conscious existence. Spring 2016: Encountering Materiality [+] Developments in the fields of ecology, neuropsychology and physics, combined with the advent of the age of information, have shed light on the necessity of rethinking our relationship to matter. In this seminar, we investigated the ways we encounter materiality in the twenty-first century. The seminar was articulated around three aspects of the material: the material nature of reality, the material aspects of organism-environment relationships, and the materiality of art practices. Alongside literature, our other medium of investigation was the material world itself! Autumn 2015: The Digital Text [+] With the advent of the World Wide Web, the digital world may seem to some to have acquired a life of its own. Digital texts are easily made, shared and read; they circulate widely and rapidly and have the potential to fashion mentalities on a large scale. Using the tools offered by literary analysis and critical theory, we reflected on what exactly constitutes a digital text—is it made up of words, of pictures, of videos? By studying the historical developments of the digital era, we investigated how digital texts have reshaped the way we "read" the world and the way we situate ourselves within it. Finally we looked at how original uses of the digital contribute to produce new forms of artistic expression. Spring 2015: Ecofeminism [+] Ecofeminism is a social and philosophical movement that was born at the end of the twentieth century on the premise that a similar rhetoric of alienation subtended the exploitation of women, of the "natural" world, and of indigenous peoples. Ecofeminism both deconstructs the rhetoric of exclusion and attempts to reconstruct a way of thinking based on creative dialogue. The multiple foci of ecofeminism render it a crucial critical tool that enable us to reflect critically on the globalised world in which we live. In the first part of this seminar we investigated in depth the principles of ecofeminism as theorised by Val Plumwood. In the second part of the seminar we applied the principles of ecofeminism to The Swan Book (2013), a contemporary novel by female Aboriginal writer Alexis Wright. Autumn 2014: Reading Environmental Fiction [+] In the second part of the twentieth century, perceptions and representations of our surroundings have considerably changed. The exploitation of natural resources gave way to the protection of the earth as habitat. Western contemporary societies realised that the earth was a finite sphere, and that as such, it was vulnerable and could be irremediably altered. In this seminar, we investigated the emergence of environmental fiction. More precisely we studied how the concept of "environment" pervaded certain narrative systems and how this may have impacted the way readers respond to works of fiction. Spring 2013: Environments of Desolation [+] Imagining the worst is a way of preparing emotionally for it. In literature, the imaginary of the worst is called dystopia. Dystopia etymologically means a utopia turned wrong, where utopia stands for "a place that does not exist". Dystopian narratives thus represent hostile ecosystems that do not exist—at least not yet. In this seminar, we approached dystopia from an environmental point of view, taking into account the various contexts of emergence of dystopic narratives and their effects on the reader's emotional state. We also looked at how dystopian narratives can help us think some environmental issues in new ways. Spring 2013-2017: Analysis of Texts – Narrative and Theory modules [+] In this class, I taught first-year students to write academic essays about narratives and literary theory. The narrative module dealt with Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. The theory module covered a range of critical approaches to literary texts, such as feminist, new historicist, reader-response and psychoanalytical approaches. Autumn 2012: Poetry of the Body [+] Reading is a cognitive process of knowledge acquisition involving thought, experience, and perception. More than simply a contrast of dark traces on clear surfaces, words have the power to make the reader simulate the described situation. Indeed, reading activates experiential, perceptual and emotional traces of past interaction. Poems about the body particularly make use of the power of words to summon those traces, and direct the reader to form new—sometimes defamiliarizing—bodily experiences. In this seminar, we surveyed an eclectic range of poems about the body, from the metaphysical English poet John Donne, passing by Ojibwa poet Louise Erdrich to Australian poet Les Murray. We particularly studied the way these poems invent original ways of thinking the body, and what it entails for the reader as an embodied consciousness. Spring 2012: Exploration Narratives [+] In this seminar, we examined postcolonial exploration narratives, in other words, contemporary re-writings of the process of exploration. Whatever the motivations behind exploration (the gain of new commodities and territories, the development of scientific knowledge, or the promotion of an ideology), exploration narratives are built around journeys of human organisms into unfamiliar environments. The goal of the seminar was to analyze the particular interactions that occur when the explorer faces the unexplored. To do so, we read four exploration narratives that span the continents of Australia, South America and North America (Patrick White's Voss, Robert Kroetsch's Badlands, Rudy Wiebe's A Discovery of Strangers, Wilson Harris's Palace of the Peacock). Spring 2011: Australian Aboriginal Literature [+] The aim of this seminar was to study the complexity and variety of contemporary Australian Aboriginal literature. We focused on the representations of the body, the environment and the concept of the Dreaming in various literary genres: Sally Morgan's autobiography My Place; Sam Watson's magic realist novel The Kadaitcha Sung; and Alexis Wright's Carpentaria, a text whose narrative form is strongly inspired by the Dreaming. We also looked at some poems by Lionel Fogarty and Kevin Gilbert and some paintings by Aboriginal artists. Autumns 2010-2011: Analysis of Texts – Drama and Poetry modules [+] In this class, I taught first-year students to write academic essays about drama or poetry. The drama module focused on Shakespeare's Hamlet. The poetry module covered a wide range of poems, mainly from the Early Modern and Modern periods.