Intermediate French III: Molière Today

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In this course, we will read Molière’s plays in the wide context of 17th-century France but also with the perspective of how these texts are read and played today. Major topics covered will be Molière’s response to the rise of a female and feminist literature during his time, his complex relationship with French neoclassic theatre and tragedy in particular, his positions regarding the most recent philosophical and religious controversies, and ultimately the rise of Louis XIV to absolutist power. We will also look at Molière’s plays as stage masterpieces within Western theatrical tradition but also through the most recent readings and productions of these texts. We will watch some of these plays, and students will be encouraged to approach Molière’s work as literary critics but also as directors. We will read all major plays (L’Ecole des Femmes, Tartuffe, Dom Juan, Le Misanthrope, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, L’Ecole des Femmes, Le Malade Imaginaire) but also a series of a lesser known, shorter works that will help us better grasp the complexity of Molière’s approach to theatre. We will read additional texts spanning from Greek antiquity to 20th-century France. Authors studied will include Aristotle, Descartes, Corneille, Mlle. de Scudéry, Racine, Mme. de Sévigné, Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Mme. de Lafayette, Marivaux, Beaumarchais, Hugo, Jarry, Beckett, and Ionesco. Students who successfully complete this class may be eligible to study in Paris with Sarah Lawrence College during their junior year. Admission by placement test to be taken during interview week at the beginning of the fall semester or completion of Intermediate II French (possibly Intermediate I for outstanding students). Course conducted in French.