French and Italian | French Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture
F523 | 24434 | Wilkin, Rebecca

Topic: Blood ties: parents and progeny in seventeenth-century
France.  The nature of parents’ legacy to their offspring concerned
writers of all kinds throughout the seventeenth century in France.
On the one hand, the rise of absolutism witnessed the reinforcement
of patriarchal culture as political theorists compared the sovereign
to a father and as pressure to demonstrate noble pedigree fostered
genealogical research. On the other hand, mothers attracted
attention as never before. Counter-Reformation moralists stressed
the mother’s crucial role as the first teacher of the faith; two
regents held and exerted the power devolving to their sons despite
the fact that Salic law prohibited women from the throne; the rise
of mechanism and the invention of the microscope led anatomists to
redefine the mother’s role in generation. How notions of blood ties
inflect other questions –for instance, the author’s relation to
his/her work or the nature of political authority— will be the
subject of our inquiry.

Readings will include: excerpts from Bodin’s Six livres de la
république, from Juan Huarte’s Examen de l’esprit, and from
Ambroise Paré’s Des monstres et prodiges; essays by
Montaigne; Alexandre Hardy’s La force du sang; the midwife
Louise Bourgeois’s Instructions à sa fille; court poetry and
iconography during the regencies of Marie de Médicis and Anne
d’Autriche; Marie de l’Incarnation’s correspondence with her son;
Corneille’s Médée; L’Avare by Molière, Phèdre
and Andromaque by Racine; excerpts from Descartes’s
L’Homme and from Malebranche’s Recherche de la vérité;
Sévigné’s correspondence with her daughter; Lafayette’s La
Princesse de Clèves; fairy tales by d’Aulnoy among others.
Students will be graded on participation, an oral presentation, and
a final research paper.

Please contact the professor ( if you’re
interested in taking the class but your French is limited. Meets
with Gender Studies GNDR G701, class number 24599.