French and Italian | Reading and Expression in French
F300 | 7248 | Valazza, Nicolas

Topic: Revolutions and literature.  From an etymological perspective,
the word ‘revolution’ defines an astronomic phenomenon in which a
celestial body moves round in a circular course, or the time in which
such a body completes a full circuit. Revolution is therefore
originally meant to describe a cyclic movement in which everything is
supposed to return to its place. But soon this concept came to
describe, paradoxically, a major, sudden and violent alteration in
the order of things, designating for instance the upheavals of
political regimes, as we see in the case of the French Revolution,
the Revolution “par excellence.” Given the polysemy of the word,
writers across the centuries have been fascinated by the concept
of ‘revolution’, making the most of its multiple meanings in their
works, and sometimes providing it with new meanings.

In this course, we will read several texts belonging to different
centuries and literary genres (essay, fiction, theatre and poetry) in
which the topic of the revolution, whether in its astronomical or
political meaning (or both), is developed in various manners. Works
studied include: the 17th-century novel _Voyage dans la lune_ by
Cyrano de Bergerac, the 18th-century short story "Micromégas" by
Voltaire, the play _L’Île des esclaves_ by Marivaux, some excerpts of
the essay on _L’Origine de l’inégalité parmi les hommes_ by Rousseau,
the _Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen_, a 19th-century
selection of poems by Hugo and the 20th-century play _Les Justes_ by
Camus. We will also have the chance to watch a film set at the time
of the French Revolution: _L’Anglaise et le duc_ by Rohmer.