Courses available in French


Le soleil est rare et le bonheur aussi l’amour s’égare au long de la vie.

— Gainsbourg

French R1B: English Composition through French Literature in Translation: Bad Romance — Love Triangles and the Novel


Longus, Daphnis and Chloe (late second or early third century ad) [ISBN 0-14-044059-3]

Hélisenne de Crenne, The Torments of Love (1538) [ISBN 0-8166-2789-4]

Madame de La Fayette, The Princess of Cleves (1678) [ISBN 9780199539178]

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856) [ISBN 014310649X]

Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy (1957)

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) [ISBN 9780061711299]

Course Description:

The Hellenistic novel of the 340s bce was the pulp fiction of Antiquity. Extremely formulaic, the plot centers on the trials and tribulations that take place before a man and a woman in love are reunited. Their fidelity to each other is constantly challenged by the desires of others. The resulting narrative reinforces the traditional idea that mutual eros (desire) between social equals is key to a happy union. This kind of plot persists into the early modern period, such as when serialized narratives about adventure and romance become increasingly popular in the 16th century. In this course, we will explore how this plot develops alongside the novel genre, before and after the novel became the ‘Novel.’ What new narrative devices are employed to tell what is essentially the same story? What characteristics make a novel a novel? How do social shifts, for instance in the concept of gender roles, shape these later narratives? How can an understanding of the social codes that govern the era in which, for instance, the Princesse of Cleves is set, inform our comparative readings? What happens when stories from Antiquity are retold centuries later? How do adaptations of these stories treat the changing ideas of what ‘social equals’ might mean? How is romantic love represented in these texts? What do the kinds of trials and miscommunications that keep lovers apart say about the changing ideas of narrative, verisimilitude, and reader expectations? These and other questions will guide our readings.

Sections of Reading and Composition courses serve as introductions to literary analysis and as guides to the composition of well-argued, well-researched essays. This will be accomplished by class discussion, by breaking down essay-writing and research-doing into manageable components, and by extensive rewriting and smaller projects designed to help students understand the research process.

Additional information:

This course will be officially listed as “”French R1B””. It fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Class conducted in ENGLISH.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes