Undergraduate Course Descriptions

01:420:216 - French Literature from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment

  • SAS Core Learning: AHo or AHp, WCd
  • Language Taught In: Taught in French
  • Credits: 3

This course is mainly intended for students majoring or minoring in French.

Offered: Fall, Spring

Prerequisites: 01:420:132/137 or placement

Course Description

An introduction to French literature from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, via the Renaissance and the Classical Age. Readings include the Medieval tale La Châtelaine de Vergy as well as fiction by Rabelais and Voltaire; excerpts from Montaigne’s Essais and the 18th-century Encyclopédie; plays by Corneille and Molière; and poems by Labé, Ronsard, and La Fontaine. Building on the experience of 215/217 (recommended but not required),  this course aims to allow students to understand and enjoy major works from an earlier era, while sharpening reading comprehension and essay-writing skills.

Course URL - A Canvas site will be available at the beginning of the semester.

Course objectives (aligned with Department of French Learning Goals)

  • Introduce students to major works from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment,via the Renaissance and the Classical Age.
  • Enhance students’ understanding of the cultural contexts in which those works were written.
  • Introduce students to basic French critical terms and concepts for literary analysis.
  • Sharpen skills for active reading comprehension, oral communication, and essay-writing in French.

- Examine critically philosophical and other theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and/or cultural production

- Analyze French literature in itself and in relation to the history of French and European culture

- Communicate complex ideas effectively, in standard written French, to a general audience; evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly; and analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources to generate new insights.

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

Students should expect to write a minimum of 15 pages in French during the term, as well as participate in class discussions and presentations. Midterm and final examinations (take-home in Fall 20) monitor mastery of the readings and of rudimentary elements of literary history and analysis presented in the lectures. For most students, 216 completes the preparation necessary for upper division classes in French literature and culture.

Attendance and participation (20%) will be assessed as they normally are (see the syllabus for details) - albeit allowing for connection problems, the course being online synchronous. Included in the participation grade will be its written form (preliminary answers posted or sent via e-mail).

Course Materials

216/218 Reader (shared with students via LMS)
Pierre Corneille, Le Cid. (Recommended edition Petits Classiques Larousse. ISBN-13: 978-2035865977)
Molière, Le Tartuffe. Recommended edition (Petits Classiques Larousse. ISBN-13: 978-2035859174)
Voltaire, L’Ingénu. (Recommended edition: Petits Classiques Larousse. ISBN-13: 978-2035861542)

Schedule of Undergraduate Courses