When Europe Spoke French: The Power of Culture and the Culture of Power
For much of modern history (ca. 1600-1900), French culture occupied a similar global place that American culture does today: it was the preferred "other" culture in the realms of entertainment, research, and polite conversation. As with America today, the French state was also a military superpower in European and global affairs. This course will explore how French culture and government combined to create this new model of culture based on refinement and the projection of power. Expressed through language, literature, and architecture (most famously, Versailles), this elite form of culture would come to symbolize education and social status from Lisbon to St-Petersburg. Readings will include historical accounts of early-modern France and Europe, as well as works by Corneille, Molière, Racine, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau.