WGSS 408 Spring 2015 Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century Novel: From Desperate Housewives to Extreme Makeovers

Cross Listed as RLFR412
In 1834, Balzac wrote that "Paris is a veritable ocean. Sound it: you will never know its depth." The same can be said of the French nineteenth-century novel and its boundless ability to echo the historical past and reverberate in the cultural present. Desperate housewives, sex in the city, queer eyes for straight guys, and extreme makeovers fill the pages of the nineteenth-century novel. From the Romanticism of Stendhal and Hugo, and the Realism of Balzac and Flaubert, to the Naturalism of Maupassant and Zola, the novel became an extraordinary forum for examining illicit sexuality, institutional misogyny, social injustice, criminal passions, revolutionary struggles, and Parisian pleasures in nineteenth-century France. Characters such as the imprisoned housewife Emma Bovary, the reluctant revolutionary Jean Valjean, the social-climbing lover Julien Sorel, the ambitious undergraduate Rastignac, the domestically-abused Gervaise, and the man-eating courtesan Nana became synonymous with France's turbulent social and political landscape from the 1830s to the 1880s. And as recent film adaptations make clear, these characters continue to haunt our twenty-first century present. Reinterpreted by such contemporary actors as Gérard Depardieu, Isabelle Huppert, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes, and Jennifer Aniston, the nineteenth-century novel continues to sound out the scandalous and sensational depths of our own century. Readings to include novels by Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola. Films to include adaptations by Clément, Berri, August, Arteta, Lelouch, and Chabrol. Conducted in French.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, two short papers, an oral presentation, and a final paper
Additional Info:
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: a 200-level or 300-level RLFR literature course at Williams; or by permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: French majors and certificate students; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies majors; Comparative Literature majors; and those with compelling justification for admission
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Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RLFR; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGSS
Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes:
Enrollment Limit: 16
Expected Enrollment: 16
Class Number: 3708
WGSS 408 - 01 (S) SEM Sr Sem: Ninetenth-Century Novl Division 2: Social Studies Brian Martin
TR 09:55 AM-11:10 AM Hollander 240 3708
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