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    Vassar College
  Oct 17, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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FREN 332 - Literature and Society in Pre-Revolutionary France

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)
Topic for 2017/18b: Early Modern Écologies: A French Environmental Thought. Most people consider ecology to be a recent endeavor, just like the Anthropocene is seen mostly as a modern epoch. Some scholars, however, date the start of the Anthropocene to 1600. What happened between the environment and human beings around that date that could justify such a theory? Over the course of three centuries, we wonder to what extent human beings envisioned, cared for, and worried about their environment. Surveying French culture and literature from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment (les Lumières) through the Baroque, students have the opportunity to read texts from François Rabelais, Michel de Montaigne, Molière, Montesquieu and Voltaire. We question the radical stylistic change between the abundance and waste of Renaissance writing, and the subsequent “purification” of classicism, following Bruno Latour’s theory in We have never been modern. The secondary texts are thus arranged around the latter work, and Latour’s conferences in Face à Gaïa, but  also include canonical texts of ecocriticism and environmental studies from Michel Serres, Luc Ferry, Jeffrey Cohen, Timothy Morton, and Stacy Alaimo. Ultimately, students interrogate the stereotypes around political and literary ecology, question the efficiency of such discourses, and the tradition of a French ecological thought. Course taught in French. Pauline Goul.

One 2-hour period.

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