The Human Body in French Lit

Representation of the Human Body in French Literary Texts (1800-1950)

The purpose of this course is to study how the human body was represented in French literature, especially in fiction and poetry, between 1800 and 1950. First,
we’ll insist on the influence of two previous ways of representing and exhibiting the body — painting and drama. Then we’ll see how literature takes over the genre of the portrait, of men and women, in the romantic novel (Madame de Stael) and the realistic novel (Balzac). We’ll consider a special extension of the body — the voice— and we’ll study the relationship between literature and music in Balzac’s works. We’ll then emphasize the rich erotic and aesthetic meanings of the image of the body, especially in Baudelaire’s poems (Les Fleurs du mal) and aesthetic works (Le peintre de la vie moderne) about jewels, clothing and make-up. At the same time, we’ll study the influence of caricature on the popular novel, in Eugène Sue’s and Victor Hugo’s representation of poverty. In Zola’s naturalistic novel, we’ll see how the representation of the body includes disease and death (L’Assommoir), war and its horrors (La Débâcle), and we’ll extend the study to the Grande Guerre novelists (Barbusse, Dorgelès, Genevoix). We’ll then show how Balzac’s and Zola’s representations of the body are renewed in Proust’s and Celine’s works, and we’ll finally examine some texts glorifying the body through sport (Montherlant) or a euphoric relationship with nature (Gide, Camus).

No textbooks required
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FREN 6716

All Sections in Summer 2014 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

Summer 2014 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

FREN6716A-L14 Lecture (Noiray)