Classical Fr Lit through Film
Classical French literature is often considered old fashioned, sclerotic and much too invaluable to be studied yet again. Nevertheless, numerous directors and producers continue to accept the challenge—at the same time aesthetic and political—of adapting and conceptualizing literature though images. This course proposes studying the complexities of the novel, comedy and dramatic 17th century poetry, by way of seminal works: How do we envisage Madame de La Fayette today, from La Princesse de Clèves to La belle Personne (C. Honoré) through the eponymous film by J. Delannoy, La Lettre (M. de Oliveira) or even La Fidelité (A. Zulawski)? Or what do we make of the recent adaptation of La Princesse de Montpensier by B. Tavernier? How do comedy stars such as Smaïn, after R. Coggio or P. Fox, in Les Fourberies de Scapin, or Michel Serrault and Jean-Marie Bigard, before B. Lazar in Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, succeed in making us laugh with Molière? Furthermore, what do we continue to make of ancient tragedy after its Racinian production, as P. Chéreau, P. Jordan or B de Coster did for Phèdre? The ambitious goal of this course involves rethinking classicism to arrive at a better understanding of the present.
Students can choose to take either a methodological section (A) or a literary section (B) of this course. The first option, section A, offers literary and social science students an opportunity to master analytical methods and textual commentaries that will allow them to read and understand a variety of theatrical texts, all while enhancing their analytical writing skills through various methodological exercises. These include summaries, literary comparisons, technical explanations, textual commentaries, argumentative dialectical essays, reading analyses and oral presentations.
The second option, section B, offers students the opportunity to study the historic, literary, dramatic, cultural, philosophical and social evolution of screen adaptations of French literature of the 17th century in great depth.
In both sections, students will read the texts and watch different film productions of each work as well.
1. Le Bourgeois gentilhomme and Les Fourberies de Scapin by Molière
2. La Princesse de Clèves and La Princesse de Montpensier by Madame de La Fayette
3. Phèdre by Racine