Courses available in French



— Baudelaire

French 230B: Studies in 17th-Century Literature — Louis XIV: The Court and Culture of Absolutism


Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Molière, L’impromptu de Versailles, Les Femmes savantes, Le Tartuffe; La Fontaine, Fables; Racine, Phèdre; Fontenelle, Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes; and other readings in excepted form.

Course Description:

This course, co-taught with Prof. Peter Sahlins (History), will introduce students to a range of work on early modern court societies via a consideration of the paradigmatic example of such a society, Louis XIV’s “absolutist” court.   Moving out from the foundational studies of Foucault, Elias, and Marin, we will explore a number of more recent efforts — coming from the disciplines of both literary studies and history — to parse the historical and historiographical category of “absolutism” and some of the received ideas associated with it (the “Classical Age,” “subjectivity,” indeed “modernity” itself).  Over the course of the semester we will examine a series of “sites” where the culture of absolutism took shape, from the gardens of Versailles and its festivals, to the salons of Paris, and finally to the court of Louis XIV.  Central to our concerns will be the specific place and work of literature in the making of absolutist culture; as such, we will be reading a careful selection of canonical literary texts from the period (e.g., La Fontaine, Molière, Racine, Lafayette), alongside a range of other texts and archival documents.  Coursework will be structured so as to allow students of other periods and national traditions to develop projects on their own specific interests.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes