RLFR 302
Monsters of the Renaissance Spring 2020
Division I

Class Details

Where did monsters appear before comics and blockbusters? Before cinematic ghosts, vampires, and zombies, the French Renaissance popularized the Scythian Lamb, the Monk Fish, the Monopod, the Wind-Eaters from the Island of Ruach, and the mythic giants Gargantua and Pantagruel. The Latin word monstrum referred to a prodigy that did not fit the laws of nature. Thus, the monster not only generated wonder, curiosity, and fear, but both challenged and disrupted normative social values. In this course, students will analyze novels, travel narratives, medical treatises, essays, and epic poems from 16th-century France, when writers, doctors, and travelers developed a critical reflection on monstrosity in order to deal with otherness. This encompassed fantastic creatures, non-human beings, and natural phenomena, as well as people whose gender, race, religion, and bodies deviated from established norms. In this course, students will think critically about race, gender, and disability, and study the complexities of fear, disgust, wonder, and fascination. Readings to include classical texts by Homer and Ovid, medieval texts like the Legend of Saint George and the Dragon, and Renaissance texts by Francois Rabelais, Jean de Léry, Marguerite de Navarre, Ambroise Paré, Michel de Montaigne, and Agrippa d’Aubigné.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 4003
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, weekly written responses, midterm exam and final project
Prerequisites: exceptional performance in RLFR 106, or an RLFR 200-level course, or by Placement Test, or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: French majors and French certificate students, and those with compelling justification for admission
Distributions: Division I

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