Courses available in French


Le voyage n’est n√©cessaire qu’aux imaginations courtes.

‚ÄĒ Colette

French 121A: Literary Themes, Genres, Structures — Theater and Power in Seventeenth-Century France


Pierre Corneille, Le Cid, Polyeucte, Ňídipe, les Trois discours sur le po√®me dramatique, ainsi que des extraits de ses contributions √† la querelle du Cid¬†; Moli√®re, La Critique de l‚ÄôEcole des Femmes et L‚ÄôImpromptu de Versailles,¬† Le Tartuffe, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme¬†; Jean Racine, Alexandre le Grand, Iphig√©nie et Esther

Course Description:

Theater as we know it only began to take shape in France at the beginning of the17th century. This class investigates the emergence of French classical theater under Louis XIII and Louis XIV by studying how monarchical power interacted with this new genre. For the King and his ministers both attempted to develop public playhouses and to police the stage, displaying simultaneously a distrust for the theater and a clear desire to use it to political ends.  As we read plays by three of the most famous French classical playwrights (Corneille, Molière and Racine), we will be looking to understand how the esthetic canons of French classical tragedy and comedy were established, in constant negotiation with these political demands. We will also examine how kings and their counselors were represented on the French stage, and to what extent it was possible to reflect critically on the limitations of monarchical power in a genre that so depended on the King’s support. This class invites students to think about the development of new theatrical practices in a specific historical context, that of the rise of absolutism. It will also allow them to reflect on the origins of modern drama more generally


French 102 or consent of instructor.

Additional information:
This course satisfies one ‚ÄúLiterature‚ÄĚ or one ‚ÄúElective‚ÄĚ 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