WGSS 408
Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century Novel: From Desperate Housewives to Extreme Makeovers Spring 2015
Division II
Cross-listed WGSS 408 / RLFR 412
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 3708
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, two short papers, an oral presentation, and a final paper
Prerequisites: a 200-level or 300-level RLFR literature course at Williams; or by permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: French majors and certificate students; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies majors; Comparative Literature majors; and those with compelling justification for admission
Distributions: Division II
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RLFR; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGSS
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 408 Division II RLFR 412 Division I

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