The Art of Love in Medieval and Early Modern France
This course will explore the development of love as a central theme in French literature during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. Is love
an emotion or an idea? Is it a universal human experience or a uniquely individual one? We will address these questions by examining the representation of love in a variety of literary texts, including medieval lyric and Romance, Early modern drama, the poets of the Pléiade and the essays of Montaigne. The period in question saw significant changes in almost every aspect of human life, from law and government to technology and science; our goal will be to ask how texts that address the theme of love comment on the changing status of the individual in society. We will treat these texts not only as records of the past, but as points of contact, which allow us to confront the role of literary traditions in constructing modern ideas of individuality, family, sexuality and gender.
Readings and discussions will be in English. Enrollment open to students with freshman or sophomore standing. May be used to satisfy the Arts and Literature breadth requirement in Letters and Science.