Courses available in French


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French 281: Interdisciplinary Topics in Literary and Cultural Studies — The Politics of Representational Pleasures: Early Modern Court and City Spectacles of Theater, Music and Dance in Comparative Perspective (1600-1800, and in their modern-day receptions and performances).


Please note:  current English translations will be made available.

1) Shakespeare, Julius Cesar in historical perspective (in 1599 at the Globe Theater ; in 1672, as staged by Thomas Killigrew’s King’s Company, in avril 2019 by the troupe of Le Théâtre National de Bretagne, on tour at Cal Performances in the spring of 2019)

2)  Euridice (1600 — court opera  libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini, with music by Jacopo Peri)

3) Orfeo (1607 — academic and court opera libretto by Alessandro Striggio, with music by Claudio Monteverdi)

4) Les Plaisirs de l’Île Enchantée (1664 — large scale court divertimento, including several plays by Molière and music and dance choreographies by Jean-Baptiste Lully et al., in the 1665 edition and in a 1973 video recording of an abridged performance of this court spectacle staged by the French choreographer Maurice Béjart at the Comédie Française in Paris)

5) Le Bourgeois gentilhommme (1668 — court and city comédie ballet by Molière, with music and dances choreographies by Jean-Baptiste Lully et al in the 1669 edition and in the contemporary performance of the work given by the French troupe Le Poëme Harmonique in 2004 )

6) Dido & Aeneas (1689 — school opera libretto by Nahum Tate with music by Henry Purcell, in the contemporary libretto and in the modern-day performance of the work given by the French troupe Le Poëme Harmonique in 2014), La Dansomanie (1800 — comedy ballet with choreography by Gardel and music by E. N. Méhul, to be studied in the surviving contemporary sources )

7) Le Mariage de Figaro (1784, court and city play by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais)

8) Le Nozze di Figaro (1786 — opera buffa, with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a variety of modern and contemporary performances and recordings).


Course Description:

This seminar will comparatively investigate the social and political uses of early modern court and city spectacles of theater, music and dance over a 200-year period (1600-1800), both through the contextualized study of early modern documents and in a number of modern-day performances of the 8 works listed above. This thoroughly interdisciplinary seminar — originally designed with REMS students in mind, but also more than suitable for RLL students, as well as graduate students in French, Italian Studies, English, German, Music and Performance Studies — will have three main learning goals : 1) initiate students to the contextualized analysis of early modern court and city performances, in their various social, political, institutional and economic contexts ; 2) train participants in the production history and analysis of contemporary performances of early modern spectacles, in the context of the current wave of Baroque revival productions (including through a live production of Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar by Le Théâtre National de Bretagne, to be given at Cal Performances on April 26-28 :, which the class will collectively attend in the last week of the semester)  ; 3) develop in all participants the necessary skills and confidence to enjoy, interpret and historicize early modern spectacles comparatively, in five closely interrelated geographic areas across early modern Europe (Italy, England, France, Prussia and modern day Germany, as well as the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Additional Information:

The works studied (please see detailed list given above) will be examined in class in the language(s) they were originally produced in. But current English translations exist for all of the works to be investigated and will be made available to students via the seminar’s Courses site. Thus, no other language than English is needed to take this seminar,


Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes