French And Italian | French Classicism I
F523 | 2306 | Hinds

This graduate class will study a wide range of literary practices
and modes of thought from the first half of the seventeenth
century.  In an examination of poetry, prose fiction, drama,
critical treatises, and philosophy, we will reconsider received
notions of the Baroque, la libre pensée,
Cartesian metaphysics, preciosity, and Classicism. Students are
invited to interpret texts in the light of modern critical
perspectives, such as social history, linguistic theory, gender
studies, epistemology, and phenomenology.  For example, what
critical tools do we have to explain the flexibility of sexual
identity in L'Astrée and its relative
inflexibility in La Querelle du Cid?  We will also
engage in a comparative study of literary examples and
intellectual traditions by bringing several texts in dialogue.
For instance, how does Descartes represent the modern
metaphysical subject in its conceptual and rhetorical
articulation, and how does Pascal challenge that representation
with his own literary means?  Readings include passages from
Malherbe's Commentaires sur Desportes, the poetry of
Théophile de Viau, Voiture, and La Benserade, Corneille's
Le Cid and the ensuing Querelle, extracts from
the novels of Honoré d'Urfé and Madeleine de
Scudéry, René Descartes's Méditations
métaphysiques and Pascal's Pensées.
Students' grades will be based on their participation in
discussion, a midterm essay, and a final paper.  Students may
enhance their grade with an optional oral presentation.