Courses available in French


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

—La Bruyère

French 118A: Eighteenth Century Literature — Hearts, Minds, Bodies — The French Novel in the Enlightenment (“W”)


Prévost, Manon Lescaut

Charrière, Lettres de Mistress Henley

Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne

Montesquieu, Lettres persanes

Voltaire, Zadig

Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Diderot, Le Neveu de Rameau

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; 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; Laclos’s libertine masterpiece of eroticism run amok, Les Liaisons dangereuses,; and Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau, a vertiginous dialogue novel in which no belief is safe.

Prerequisites: French 102 or consent of Instructor.

Additional information:
This course satisfies one “Literature” or one “Elective” in the French major; satisfies one Historical Period requirement in French major. Satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth in Arts and Literature. Priority enrollment for declared French majors.  This course is designated as “W” (writing intensive) in the French major.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes