French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 3430 | Dade, Juliette

Topic: Representations of Women

Through close readings of four genres of French literature (poetry,
theatre, novel, and short story), this course introduces students to
some of the important texts, movements, authors, and contexts of
French literature. The course will focus on techniques of literary
analysis as well as the development of reading and writing skills in
French. We will read works that have as a common trait the diverse
aspects of literary representations of women. Often adopted as muses,
women in literature have been depicted as anything from idealized
visions to threatening seductresses, motherly figures, and immoral
prostitutes. Often the female characters present a glimpse of the
daily life of women within the social context of their time.

We will begin with Molière’s comedy, <i>L’Ecole des femmes</i>, in
which an old man adopts a young girl in order to teach her to be a
perfect wife. We will then read a selection of poems depicting women
from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century by such poets as
Christine de Pisan, Ronsard, Baudelaire, and Verlaine, among others.
We will continue with the short story "Boule de Suif," by Guy de
Maupassant, and a handful of short stories from Colette’s collection,
<i>La Femme cachée</i>. Finally, we will end with <i>Une si longue
lettre</i> by Mariama Bâ, a personal narrative that retells the story
of a recently widowed Senegalese woman in the form of a letter to her

The course will be graded based on participation, a four-page
explication de texte of one poem chosen by the student, two exams (on
the play and on the short stories), and a final five-page paper on
the novel. Taught in French. Prerequisite is F250 or consent of
department. F300 fulfills A & H requirement.