Courses available in French


Tout est dit, et l'on vient trop tard.

—La Bruyère

French 118B: Eighteenth Century French Literature — Hearts, Minds, Bodies — The French Novel in the Enlightenment


Prévost, Manon Lescaut; Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne; Montesquieu, Lettres persanes; Voltaire, Zadig; Vivant Denon, Point de lendemain; Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses

Course Description:

The Enlightenment was a moment of huge upheaval in relation between self, society, and the physical world: the “New Philosophy” of methodical doubt was brought to bear on European customs, religions, and beliefs, often in the hopes of aligning society with natural laws; and the gradual weakening of the société d’états (a kind of caste system of social division) necessitated new ways of thinking about what tied human beings together. We’ll be reading a series of key novels from the period that help bring this upheaval into focus. These include Prévost’s great novel of male aristocratic anxiety, Manon Lescaut; Graffigny’s feminist not-a-love-story, Lettres d’une Péruvienne; Voltaire’s face-off between corrupt and mendacious rulers and the ideal of a government of reason, Zadig; and Laclos’s libertine masterpiece of eroticism run amok, Les Liaisons dangereuses.


French 102 or consent of Instructor. Course conducted in French.

Additional information:
This course satisfies one “Literature/Genre” or one “Elective” course requirement in the French major; satisfies one Historical Period requirement in French major. Satisfies L & S breadth requirement in Arts and Literature. Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes