French and Italian | Great Poetry of the 19th Century
F446 | 27541 | Valazza, Nicolas


Topic: The Poet Before the Mirror: Forms of Lyricism in the 19th
Century.  According to the critic Paul Bénichou, “The distinctive
trait of romanticism […] is surely the exaltation of poetry, now
considered to be truth, religion, and the illumination of our
destiny.” Benichou is specifically referring to lyric poetry, which
asserts itself as the prevailing form of poetry throughout the 19th
century.

In this course, we will examine the development of French lyric
poetry, from the emergence of romantic subjectivity at the beginning
of the 19th century through the “decadent” period at the end of the
century, focusing on the personality of the poets, as they figure
their sentiments in verse. For the “exaltation of poetry” to which
Bénichou refers is above all an exaltation of the Poet, often
envisaged as an almost divine creator. Among the poets considered
will be Desbordes-Valmore, Lamartine, Vigny, Hugo, Nerval, Musset,
Baudelaire, Mallarma, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Laforgue and others. We will
also read some essays meant to situate these poets in their
historical and cultural contexts. Given that the course is based on
close reading, we will begin the semester with an introduction to
French versification, in order to provide students with the necessary
tools to analyze the formal aspects of poetry.

The final grade will be based on class participation (10%), a mid-
term exam (20%), an oral presentation (30%) and a final paper (40%).
The course will be conducted entirely in French. Fulfills A & H
requirement.