French and Italian | Studies in Seventeenth-Century French Literature
F630 | 27674 | Bjornstad, Hall


Title: Expressions of Absolutism: Louis XIV and the Culture of
Exemplarity.

Renaissance culture was a culture of exemplarity, in the sense that
ancient examples were at the heart of the humanist project as a
source of both ethical and esthetic models. This seminar examines
what happens when the power of the king is no longer justified by
referring to past models but is instead conceived as absolute and
self-sufficient. Emblematic of this turn is the decoration of the
Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, which was originally planned to
reflect the examples of Apollo and Hercules, but now multiplies the
image of the royal Exemplar himself. In this course we will examine
various artistic expressions of absolutism (theater, poetry, opera,
ballet, architecture, portraiture, gardening, etc) that respond to
and help construct the image of Louis XIV. Readings will include
primary texts by Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, and Louis XIV
himself, as well as critical essays by Louis Marin, Peter Burke, and
Norbert Elias.