RLFR 216
Women Behaving Badly: Deviant Women in Early Modern French Literature Fall 2022
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed RLFR 216 / WGSS 216

Class Details

Female deviance often implies resisting a dominant and oppressive patriarchal status quo embedded within cultural and historical backgrounds. This course explores female characters in early modern French literature who refuse to conform to established gender roles. Defying social constructs of femininity, through either judicious negotiations or more aggressive and violent behavior, is an important trope in the writings of both male and female authors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. What constitutes deviant behavior, however, depends on social definitions of gender roles, which evolve over time. In this course, we will first examine women’s place within the historical and socio-cultural context of the Ancien Régime, which will lead to an examination of female behavior censured during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We will then reflect on how we, as modern readers, perceive such deviancy at it relates to the past. Finally, we will discuss the relevance of studying deviant women in light of current events, such as the #MeToo movement, which has led to a new level of consciousness and empathy for the plight of marginalized groups. Potential readings to include Corneille’s Médée, Madame de la Fayette’s Princesse de Clèves, Laclos’s Liaisons dangereuses, and Isabelle de Charrière’s Lettre à Mistriss Henley.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 1955
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, one presentation (8-10 minutes), three to four papers (3-5 pages), and a longer final paper
Prerequisites: strong performance in RLFR 105; successful performance in RLFR 106; or by French placement exam; or by permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: French majors and certificate students; Comparative Literature majors; Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies majors; and those with compelling justification for admission
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
RLFR 216 Division I WGSS 216 Division II
DPE Notes: This course focuses on a critical examination of difference, power, and equity in early modern France. Through the study of deviant women, the course thus challenges students to examine the effects of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in narratives on women, misogyny, and criminality.

Class Grid

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