French and Italian | French 17th-Century Literature & Culture
F523 | 27547 | Bjornstad, Hall


Topic: The Early Modern Crisis of Exemplarity.  From Montaigne ("Tout
exemple cloche") to Pascal ("L'exemple nous instruit peu"), via
Corneille ("L'exemple souvent n'est qu'un miroir trompeur"), Racine
("Adieu. Servons tous trois d'exemple à l'univers") and Mme de La
Fayette ("Elle… laissa des exemples de vertu inimitables"), early
modern French literature revolves around examples and their
exemplarity. This course will explore the working of exemplarity in
central early modern philosophical, literary, pedagogical and
political texts by the authors quoted above and others, focusing on
the following questions: What is exemplarity? How does an event, an
action, a hero, or a king become exemplary? How is exemplarity
produced and naturalized, manipulated and problematized in early
modern French texts? What is the link between exemplarity, authority
and textual truth? To what extent can we speak of an early modern
crisis of exemplarity? Secondary readings will include texts by
Giorgio Agamben, Reinhart Koselleck, Louis Marin, and Hélène Merlin-
Kajman. Weekly response papers and scaffolded final research project.