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

Education

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 an apprentice teacher (AT), which will be scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Class meetings and AT 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 prior experience with French or who are placed in FREN 111Y–112Y on the basis of a placement exam administered during Orientation. Students enrolled in this course will automatically be 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 an apprentice teacher (AT), which will be 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 will serve as points of departure for class discussion. This course includes required practice sessions with an apprentice teacher (AT), which will be scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Attendance at a weekly French table is strongly encouraged. Students enrolled in this course will be 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 will serve as points of departure for class discussion. This course includes required practice sessions with an apprentice teacher (AT), which will be 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 will focus 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 will seek to improve their ability to write clearly and coherently in French. In order to foster these goals, the course also will provide a review of selected advanced grammatical structures and work on literary excerpts. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Offered every year.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of three major literary genres — poetry, theater, and the novel — from the French Revolution to the 21st century. Readings will include the works of authors such as Hugo, Baudelaire, Lamartine, Balzac, Mallarmé, Colette, Cocteau, Camus and Sartre. Students will gain a deeper understanding of French literary history and of its relationship to major social and philosophical movements. In addition to exploring certain themes, we will see how the literature reflects important societal and intellectual debates of the time. The course will continue the development of the skills of literary analysis, guided discussion and essay writing in French. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Offered every year or alternating with FREN 323.

We will examine some of the social, cultural and political issues in contemporary France, as well as their historical context, by analyzing representative films and texts from the 20th and 21st centuries. Films and themes may include "La Grande Illusion," "Lacombe," "Lucien" and World Wars I and II; "Coup de Torchon," "Indochine" and the colonial experience; "Milou en Mai" and the 50s and 60s; and "La Haine" or "Welcome" and the impact of immigration. Students will be regularly required to view films outside of class. We also will read a textbook on contemporary France to supplement the films and students will be required to complete an independent research project on a topic related to class discussions. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every other 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 will introduce students to the literature and intellectual history of 17th-century France and will examine the concept of the Baroque, the ideals of the classical aesthetic which succeeded it, and the tensions that may lie beneath the classical facade. Readings will 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 other year.

We will explore the competing forces of la raison and la sensibilité as they affect developing notions of the self and of individual freedom in 18th-century France. Our readings will include some of the major works of Enlightenment thought, representative of several genres: philosophical narratives, plays, novels and autobiographical texts by such authors as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Graffigny and Laclos. Our considerations of the tensions between the heart and reason also will provide some glimpses of the underside of the French Enlightenment and will reveal an ongoing dialogue between the center (Paris) and a variously constituted periphery. 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 will 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 will be 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 will 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 will 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.

The period extending from the belle époque to World War II saw the birth, ascendancy and worldwide influence of French avant-garde poetry. We will study this phenomenon chronologically, beginning with the Symbolist "cult of literature" epitomized by poet Stéphane Mallarmé, moving on to "anti-literature" such as the Paris Dada movement, and ending with the Surrealist and post-World War II periods, when the literary avant-garde established itself as a powerful institution in its own right. We will study poems and some shorter prose texts by a range of authors including Paul Valéry, Guillaume Apollinaire, Tristan Tzara and André Breton. Also discussed will be the relationship between literature and other arts such as painting and film. FREN 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: FREN 213Y–214Y or equivalent. Generally offered every third year.