Mortimer Martin Guiney joined the faculty of Kenyon College in 1987, after completing his doctoral dissertation in comparative literature on early twentieth-century theories of the novel. Since then, his research has focused primarily on the relationship between literature, education and the state in nineteenth-and twentieth-century France. His two books on that subject, "Teaching the Cult of Literature in the French Third Republic" and "Literature, Pedagogy, and Curriculum in Secondary Education," were published by Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Guiney has served as chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures department, as director of Kenyon's intensive language program (KILM), and as chair of the Kenyon faculty. He received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 2014 and was named to the William P. Rice Professorship in Literature in 2019.
Areas of Expertise
Nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, comparative literature and cultural studies, French language teaching
1987 — Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University
1983 — Master of Arts from Yale University
1980 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Mass Amherst
Courses Recently Taught
America is the great, ongoing experiment of modernity, a nation thoroughly structured by all that is considered new in the Western world: liberal democracy, science, technology, industry and capitalism. The colonization of America by Europe led to the status of the United States as a laboratory for political, social and artistic theories which otherwise may never have been attempted. At the same time, the rest of the world has often looked at the United States from a critical, even adversarial perspective. As recent history has shown, America is not just a European obsession, but increasingly finds itself today in a multilateral geopolitical environment. The Sept. 11 attacks were a brutal awakening for many Americans to the hostility that exists in parts of the world against U.S. foreign policy, and against the identity of American citizens. Is such hostility related to the European ambivalence toward America, or is it an entirely new phenomenon, with separate historical and intellectual roots? What new insights do the critiques from non-European regions contribute to an understanding of America’s relationship to the rest of the world? Each week, we will examine texts that center on a particular theme of European-American intellectual relations, the emerging and complex relationship between Islam and America, the longstanding tension with Latin America, and critiques of American-style modernity from Japan. Among the European texts studied are works by Bartolomé de las Casas, Alexis de Tocqueville, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean Baudrillard. Middle Eastern authors include Osama bin Laden, Jalal Al-i Ahmad, and Sayyid Qutb. Among the Latin American authors are Fidel Castro, Eduardo Galeano, and Che Guevara. From Japan, they include Keiji Nishitani and Shunya Yoshimi. We also will view and discuss several films by directors such as Godfrey Reggio and Adam Curtis. This counts toward the major in French ("track two" or "track three") under certain conditions, when arranged with Professor Guiney at the start of the semester. This also counts as an elective for the political science major. No prerequisite.
This is a yearlong course offering the equivalent of three semesters of conventional language study. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Class meetings and practice sessions are supplemented with online activities and written homework. Work in class focuses primarily on developing listening comprehension and speaking skills while reinforcing vocabulary acquisition and the use of grammatical structures. Written exercises, short compositions and elementary reading materials serve to develop writing and reading skills and promote in-class discussion. This course is intended for students who have had no experience with French or are placed in FREN 111Y-112Y on the basis of a placement exam administered during Orientation. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to FREN 112Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.
This course is a continuation of the first semester of intensive introductory French. During the second semester, students further the study of the fundamentals of French including literary and cultural materials, introduced with a view toward increasing reading comprehension and writing ability, expanding vocabulary, and enhancing cultural awareness. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Prerequisite: FREN 111Y or permission of instructor. Offered every spring.
This course is designed for students interested in further developing their ability to speak, write and read French. The course includes a comprehensive grammar review and short cultural and literary readings, which serve as points of departure for class discussion. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Attendance at a weekly French table is strongly encouraged. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to FREN 214Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: FREN 111Y-112Y or equivalent, or placement test. Offered every fall.
This course is the continuation of the first semester of intermediate French and includes a comprehensive grammar review and short cultural and literary readings, which serve as points of departure for class discussion. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Attendance at a weekly French table is strongly encouraged. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y or placement, or permission of instructor. Offered every spring.
This course is designed to provide advanced students with the opportunity to strengthen their abilities to write, read and speak French. The conversation component of the course focuses on the discussion of articles from the current French and Francophone press, films and web sites, with the aim of developing students' fluency in French and their performance of linguistically and culturally appropriate tasks. Through the composition component, students seek to improve their ability to write clearly and coherently in French in both analytic and creative modes. To foster these goals, the course also provides a review of selected advanced grammatical structures and work on literary excerpts. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Offered every year.
The works of French literature and thought in the 17th century embody what the French call le classicisme: the golden age of the national literary tradition. The belief still persists that French literature of the period, such as Racine's tragedies or Boileau's "Art poétique," rivaled the great works of antiquity. This course introduces students to the literature and intellectual history of 17th-century France and examines the concept of the Baroque, the ideals of the classical aesthetic that succeeded it, and the tensions that may lie beneath the classical facade. Readings include such works as Pascal's "Pensées"; plays by Corneille, Molière and Racine; selected poems by La Fontaine; and what is often considered the first psychological novel, "La Princesse de Clèves" by Madame de Lafayette. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every third year.
We read major novels and plays produced during one of the most turbulent eras of French history, from the wake of the French Revolution to the establishment of France's first viable democratic regime, the Third Republic. Works by authors such as Sand, Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert and Zola provide us with a perspective on the social and political upheavals of the time. In addition to interpreting these works in relation to their historical background, we try to understand and compare the authors' aesthetics of literary creation, their understanding of the individual's role in society, and the opposition of idealism and material forces that they portray. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every third year.
Though centered on the novel, this course may examine various genres including drama, short narrative and even film. Close readings of classic modern texts illuminate questions such as the role and nature of the subject, narrative coherence and incoherence, the incorporation of marginal voices into the literary mainstream, and the relationship between literature and modernism. These texts are situated in historical and intellectual context. Authors studied may include Marcel Proust, Samuel Beckett and Marguerite Duras. This course is designed to accommodate advanced students as well as those with less experience in French literature. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every third year.
We explore the relationship between poetry and modernity, as well as learn techniques for the close reading of French poetic texts, covering the period from Romanticism to the "Belle Epoque" (early to late 19th century). Authors include Lamartine, Hugo, Desbordes-Valmore, Baudelaire and Rimbaud. The literary and philosophic consequences of the development of a poetic language that rejects all reference to the outside world, striving toward the pure or absolute text, constitutes the primary focus of the course. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every third year.
This course offers independent study for senior candidates for honors under the direction of the honors supervisor. Normally offered in the spring semester, this course may be offered in the fall with the approval of the student's honors supervisor and the chair of modern languages and literature. Permission of instructor and department chair required.