Undergraduate Course Descriptions

01:420:241 - Major French Writers in Translation - Enlightenment Love Letters

Enlightenment Love Letters - The title of this course refers, most simply, to the eighteenth-century French epistolary novels whose plots employed the circulation of love letters: licit and illicit, romantic and scandalous. The title also refers to how Enlightenment writers used the popularity of this form to spread their critiques of traditional perspectives on religious, political and sexual norms. We will be reading some of the most well-known authors of the century, such as Montesquieu (Persian Letters), Diderot (The Nun) and Rousseau (Julie, or the New Heloise), whose work included epistolary novels that furthered their critiques of cultural insularity, religious hypocrisy and traditional domesticity.  In addition, we will turn to authors known less well today but popular and influential in their time, including Graffigny (Letters of a Peruvian Woman) and Laclos (Dangerous Liaisons) whose work critiqued the social mores of the time and explored new perspectives on the roles of women and sexual equality. The course will also incorporate films that have adapted some of these titles, including Stephen Frears Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Roger Kumble‚Äôs Cruel Intentions, as we explore the contemporary relevance of the Enlightenment project. (Cross-listed with 195:251:02) [This course fulfills Core Requirements AHp, WCd]