6AAFF340 The city in the Literature of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century France
Credit value: 15 credits
Module tutor: Dr Craig Moyes
Assessment: If taught in semester 1: Two pieces of written work; one (c 2000 words) to be submitted during term 1, one (c 3000 words) at the start of term 2, both to count towards the final mark, 15 per cent and 85 per cent respectively. If taught in semester 2: One 3-hour exam in May.
Teaching pattern: Two seminars per week.
This module will investigate a number of literary representations of the city, here understood not in any real geographical sense, but rather as an essentially imaginary space for civic exchange. In addition to reading some of the most important (but nowadays rarely taught) prose writers of the Ancien Régime, students will trace the persistence of (and interference between) the two classical models of the city, the Aristotelian polis and Imperial Rome.
Although this is not a module on history, a certain amount of historical knowledge will be required. And not just French history! Writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were steeped in the classics in way that is scarcely imaginable today. In order to properly read their works, we will need to recapture some of that lost classical background along the way.
There are three main learning objectives to the course:
To deepen students’ undersdanding of the literature of the Ancien Régime within its historical and political context.
To explore the classical notion of the ‘city’ and the ‘civic space’ within the specific context of Bourbon Absolutism.
To introduce students to some of the philosophical background required to understand these notions.
Listed in chronological order:
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (extracts: any edition)
——, Politics (extracts: any edition)
Seneca, De Ira; De Otio (extracts)
Honoré d’Urfé, L’Astrée (1607-1627). Paris: Gallimard «Folio», 1984.
Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, Le Prince (1631, 1634). Paris: La Table Ronde, 1996.
Pierre Corneille, Cinna (1640) (any edition with line numbers)
Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, “De la conversation des Romains”, “Mecenas”, “De la Gloire”, in Œuvres diverses (1644).
Antoine Furetière, Le Roman bourgeois (1666). Paris: GF, 2001
Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de Saint-Simon, Mémoires (1738-1749).
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lettre à d’Alembert sur les spectacles (1758). Paris: GF, 1967.
Links to the more obscure required texts will be made available on KEATS.