Empires of the Moon: Imagining the Foreign in French Lunar Literature

R1B (Section 2) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation (Summer Session D -- 6 weeks)
Summer 2016
L. Louie


Required Texts:

  • Course pack, including Cyrano de Bergerac’s The States and Empires of the Moon, Lucian’s A True History, and excerpts from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Thevet’s Les Singularitez de la France antarctique
  • Books:
  • Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, transl. H.A. Hargreaves (Univ. of California Press, 1990), ISBN-13: 978-0520071711
  • Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis (Scribner, 2003), 978-0743234900
  • The Craft of Research, 3rd Edition Booth, Colomb, & Williams (U Chicago, 2008), 978-0226065663


  • Le Voyage dans la Lune. Directed by Georges Méliès. Star Film Company, 1902. Media Resources Center DVD 9625.
  • Doctor Who. “Kill the Moon.” Series 8, Episode 7. Directed by Paul Wilmshurst. Written by Peter Harness. BBC, October 4, 2014.
  • The First Men in the Moon. Directed by Nathan Juran. Columbia Pictures, 1964. Media Resources Center DVD 3297

Course Description:

The moon, our nearest astronomical neighbor, embodies a combination of foreignness and familiarity that has long stimulated the literary imagination. A long tradition of satirical and scientific writing has attempted to answer the question of whether the moon is populated and, if so, what kinds of people might live there, and what earth-dwellers’ relationship to them should be. In this class, we will think about how literary writing about the moon is influenced by ideas about the terrestrial foreign and unknown, particularly Renaissance writing about travel and religion. In addition to readings and film viewings, we will make use of resources on campus, such as the Bancroft Library and the Berkeley Art Museum.

This course focuses on literary analysis and the composition of well-argued essays, building upon the skills learned in R1A. We will also be discussing how to conduct scholarly research on literary and historical topics, and how to use scholarly sources in academic writing. The writing process will be broken down into manageable components, including extensive rewriting and feedback, and we will practice different academic genres including the abstract, the annotated bibliography, and the research paper. Active participation in class discussions and an assigned reading group is required.

  • Additional information: 

This course fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Class conducted in ENGLISH.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes