Often referred to in European history as the “Age of Discovery” or the “Age of Exploration,” the 15th and 16th centuries saw the rise of overseas exploration from Europe to the Americas, Asia and Africa. These travels both contributed to the expansion of the known world for Europeans and also laid the foundations for commercial routes and colonisation. French travelers played a key role in this process and documented their journeys in detailed narratives. After reading short excerpts of earlier works that built the travel narrative genre, such as Ibn Battuta’s Travels and Marco Polo’s Book of Marvels, we will read longer excerpts from Jacques Cartier’s Brief narration of the Navigation to the Islands of Canada, Jean de Léry’s History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Pierre Belon’s Voyage to the Levant, and study the maps that were created during this time period. We will analyze the representation of the journey itself, the descriptions of the lands traveled to and their inhabitants, and also the enunciation of the goals of such travels. We will see how a rhetoric of fascination, wonder and curiosity is intertwined with economical, political and religious agendas. There is no “official” travel narrative written by a woman in this time period: we will wonder why and study the representation of women in these texts. Conducted in French.
Format: seminar; Remote. This will be a remote course available to all students, whether they are on campus or completing coursework 100% remotely. We will convene synchronously via web-conferencing multiple times per week, with an emphasis on speaking practice in small groups. There will be many opportunities for all course members to interact via a series of varied online activities both during and in-between our synchronous sessions.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Participation, weekly readings, online homework, one-page written responses or audio-recorded responses every two weeks, presentation of a visual document, final project.
Exceptional performance in RLFR 105, strong performance in RLFR 106, or by Placement Test, or Permission of the Instructor.
If overenrolled, preference given to French Majors & French Certificate Students, and those with compelling justification for admission (statement of interest required).
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course qualifies for a DPE requirement because it addresses the early history of French colonization. The 15th and 16th century travel narratives we will focus on will allow students to critically engage with the first interactions of French people with indigenous populations and inhabitants of the Americas, Africa and India, with the religious and commercial projects undertaken by France vis-à-vis these territories, and with the racial and power dynamics that structure these narratives.