19th-Century Literature and Culture
Intensive study of a single major author of the romantic or postromantic period. The subject changes from year to year among writers in the different literary genres.
This course looks at the ways in which prostitution and its regulation shaped 19th-century France and its fictions, with an emphasis on the evolving place of prostitution in modern Paris and its literary representations. Through the study of works by authors including Dumas fils, Baudelaire, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Huysmans, Goncourt, Zola, Maupassant, Philippe, Pougy, Aziz, and Despentes, along with paintings, historical documents, memoirs, treatises, and popular culture, we will explore how venal sex became the object of efforts to impose order in a time of rapid change and upheaval, both for administrators and for novelists and artists.
Our readings of 19th-century texts will be complemented by contemporary visual media (television, film, exhibitions) focused on prostitution from the period, as well as historical and theoretical works by Corbin, Reverzy, Foucault, and Rancière. We will also discuss current French debates about the legalization of prostitution, considering why the “prostitution problem” has surfaced at particular moments in French history—most notably alongside the intensification of anxieties about immigration, borders, and national identity. Course is conducted in French. Open to undergraduates (recommended preparation: at least one literature/culture course) and graduate students.