Courses available in French


Le voyage n'est nécessaire qu'aux imaginations courtes.


French 119B: Nineteenth-Century Literature — The Prose Poem


Readings will include works by authors such as Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Victor Hugo,  Bertrand, Baudelaire,  Mallarmé, Rimbaud  and Valéry.

Course Description:

The distinction between prose and poetry seemed self-evident until the 19th century.  Poetry required specific attention to formal features such as rhyme and meter.  Prose involved rhetorical attention, but followed logics of narrative or discursive thought.

In the 19th century, all of this changes. Poetry tends toward the unmarked language of free verse,  prose becomes increasingly “poetic,”  and writers experiment with a new, mixed genre, the prose poem. These are short texts, dense with meaning, that invite a reconsideration of what literature is. We will learn how  the prose poem, initially inspired by formats of visual art (painted “tableaux,” but also photographs) evolved into explorations of language, meaning and “literarity.” Baudelaire will be a central figure for us as we will study both his poetry  (Les Fleurs du Mal) and his prose poems (Spleen de Paris). After careful consideration of 19th century poems, prose works and prose poems, we will end with prose poems by the celebrated 20th century poet  Paul Valéry (Poésie perdue).


French 102 or equivalent.

Additional Information:

This course satisfies one “Literature/Genre” or one “Elective” course requirement in the French major; satisfies one required course in French minor.   Satisfies Letters & Science breadth requirement in Arts and Literature or International Studies. Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes