Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance French Literature
In this introductory course, we will read some key texts of literature written in French between 1100 and 1600, paying special attention to how gender, cultural difference and love played a role in the doing and undoing of communities. What does it mean to be a woman writer when most things were written by men? What does it mean to be a man, at court or at war? What did people learn when traveling to Asia or to the New Continent, and how did it impact the way people conceived of ethnicity? How did people think of ethnic difference in their midst? How can love strengthen an empire, and how can one be sincere when copying a love-poem? These cultural questions will be answered with special attention to literary form. Different genres might have yielded different possibilities to not just represent, but also imagine ways of living together; perhaps the very structure of a sentence allows one to construe one's own identity. While the course will be taught in French, no knowledge of Old French, Latin, or Occitan is required. All readings will be done in modern French or English translation. Heavy emphasis will be placed on improving writing and formal speech. Students can expect guidance, feedback, and opportunities to improve in a low-stakes environment. Students are highly encouraged to complete FRENLANG 124 or to successfully test above this level through the Language Center. This course fulfils WAY-AII (Aesthetic Inquiry) and GER-DB-Hum (Disciplinary Breadth in the Humanities) requirements. Assignments and discussions are all in French.