Skip to main content

FREN 563

Studies in the Anglo-French Renaissance: Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Early Modern Political Thought

TuTh 2:00–3:15, Dey Hall 301
Prof. Hassan Melehy (

Montaigne’s Essais and Shakespeare’s plays both reflect strong interest in the political upheavals of the sixteenth century. These authors frequently engage with the proliferation of the political writings of their era that treat sovereignty, state legitimacy, the role and rights of the citizen, the ideal society, and other questions. We will read major political thinkers of the sixteenth century–Erasmus, Machiavelli, Thomas More, Justus Lipsius, Etienne de La Boétie, among others–and consider how Montaigne and Shakespeare responded to them. Our objective will be to consider the extension and nuancing of political thought in these two major literary authors, as well as how their treatment affects our understanding of European Renaissance politics.

Taught in English. All readings will be available in English; those by French authors will be available in French. For undergraduates, counts toward the French major and minor..

This course is crosslisted with CMPL 563.