French Culture and the History of Emotion
From “Crimes of Passion” to existentialist melancholy the French have defined, in large measure, the ways in which western culture has understood and reflected on the emotions. In this course we will study the complex history of emotion–of passion, affect, and sensation. Through a study of literature philosophy, painting, and film we will examine the ways in which different emotions have been understood and “located” in the self, as well as the ways in which writing about the emotions has shaped cultural history. Among the topics to be studied: why are certain emotions “in vogue” at different historical moments? How can we “read” emotions in the body? When is an emotion not an emotion? Among the writers and artists to be studied: Montaigne, Descartes, LaFayette, Diderot, Stendhal, Proust, Barthes, LeBrun, David, Delacroix, and Manet. Course taught in English; knowledge of French not required.
This course satisfies the College of Letters and Science breadth requirement in Historical Studies. Course taught in English; knowledge of French not required.