18th-Century French Literature and Culture

Intensive study of a major 18th-century writer.

The novel-in-letters captivated French readers and inspired French authors throughout the eighteenth century. Writers used the epistolary form for a variety of aesthetic and critical purposes: to adopt a foreigner’s point of view on French society, to elaborate interior worlds and emotional landscapes, to stage complicated games of seduction, and to challenge or trick their readers. In this course, we will sample a diverse array of epistolary works. In addition to investigating the varied uses of this dynamic genre, we will examine how they interact with major themes and movements in eighteenth-century literature and culture including Enlightenment critique, sentimentalism, (pre)romanticism, libertinage, debates over gender roles, and an evolving media culture. We will also explore some examples of personal and philosophical letters of the period to understand the dynamic relationship between fictional and non-fictional epistolarity. Finally, we will take advantage of the relative formal stability of our object of study to experiment with several different critical and theoretical lenses, from classic schools of criticism (such as narratology) that provide useful vocabularies for textual analysis to more contemporary approaches such as affect studies, actor-network theory, gender studies, transmediality, and others. Taught in French.

This course is designed primarily for graduate students. Advanced, highly motivated undergrad students may also enroll, and are encouraged to contact Prof. Welch in advance of registration for more information.

Required texts (available at Student Stores):

Charrière, Caliste, ou Lettres écrites de Lausanne, ed. Claudine Herrmann. Des Femmes 978-2721001757
Choderlos de Laclos, Liaisons dangereuses. Gallimard Folioplus 9782070358410
Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne. MLA 9780873527774
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes. Livre de Poche 978-2253082224
Riccoboni, Lettres de milady Juliette Catesby. Desjonquières 978-2904227998
Rousseau, La Nouvelle Héloïse. Livre de Poche 978-2253161097

Prerequisites: FREN 300, and 370, 371, or 372.

Previously Offered:

Fall 2017