Courses available in French


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French 150A: Women in French Literature — Women and Writing in France, 1500-1800


Marguerite de Navarre, L’Heptaméron; Louise Labé, Sonnets; Lafayette, La Princesse de Cleves; Molière, Les Femmes savantes; Riccoboni, Ernestine; Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses; Stael, De la littérature.

Course Description:

“Dans ses meubles, dût-elle en avoir l’ennui, / Il ne faut écritoire, encre, papier, ni plume./ Le mari doit dans les bonnes coutumes, écrire tout ce qui s’écrit chez lui.”  Molière, L’École des femmes

This course will explore the relation between women and writing from the sixteenth through the end of the eighteenth centuries in France.  We will study women writers, but we will also explore discourses about women and writing.  We will read forms of writing traditionally associated with women– such as letter writing—that may not typically be included in the category of “writing” as well as novels, plays, and poems.  We will seek to understand what writing meant to women: how it helped them form their own identities, explore and construct the self, and to participate beyond the domestic sphere.

We will study how the broader culture thought about women and writing: was writing transgressive or dangerous?  Was it ridiculous?  Was it a mode of creating and affirming community? Why were women readers and writers sometimes depicted as either sexual predators or, equally dangerous, distinctly uninterested in men?  Recent critics have brought much early modern women’s writing back into the center of literary and scholarly discussion, but some scholars resist the notion that women made a significant contribution to the world of letters: one scholar has gone so far as to argue—ingeniously—that the great poet Louise Labe didn’t really exist.  She was, on this account, a mere “paper creature” invented by male poets!  In addition to these topics, we will explore the material life of writing: paper, ink, pens, envelopes, desks, etc.


French 102 or equivalent.

Additional Information:

Satisfies 1 “Culture” or 1 “Elective” course requirement in the French Major.  This course also satisfies 1 Historical Period Requirement in the French major.  Satisfies 1 course requirement in French minor.

Satisfies College of Letters and 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