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The Renaissance Period
Course code: FREN2103.
Course unit value: 0.5.
We shall work this term on Renaissance discourses of love: we will read the love poetry of Pierre de Ronsard (Les Amours, 1552-84) and Louise Labé (Sonnets, 1555), as well as Marguerite de Navarre’s collection of short stories, the Heptaméron (1559). (We will start with Ronsard, followed by Labé, and then Navarre.) This will be an opportunity to explore key aspects of the period: love, of course, its different conceptions, themes and rituals; but also imitation; petrarchism; neoplatonism; eroticism; the representation of women and of the body; poetry and the visual arts.
In doing so, we will pay particular attention to three questions: How is it possible for a poet to do new things by imitating other poets, and to express something apparently as intimate and subjective as love by repeating familiar forms, words and images? What happens when women write in forms that had traditionally been used by men, and from passive objects of desire, suddenly become the active subjects of an erotic and artistic discourse? What do these literary discourses teach us – or forget to teach us – about the social and cultural history of love and sex in the Renaissance?
Assessment: one unseen two-hour written examination (100%).
Tutor: Dr Thibaut Maus de Rolley
Preparatory reading and set texts:
Pierre de Ronsard, Les Amours, ed. F. Joukovsky (Paris: Gallimard, coll. Poésie/Gallimard, 1974). Suggested reading: Amours de Cassandre: sonnets 1, 2, 6, 9, 12, 16, 18, 20, 40, 41, 46, 52, 59, 61, 94, 96, 100, 112, 120, « Stances » (p. 91), 172, 193, « Elégie à Janet » (p. 150). Amours de Marie: « Elégie à son livre » (p. 157), sonnets 1, 4, 10, 19, 28, 44. Sur la mort de Marie: sonnet 4. Le Second livre des sonnets pour Hélène: sonnet 43.
Louise Labé, Œuvres poétiques, ed. F. Charpentier (Paris: Gallimard, coll. Poésie/Gallimard, 2006). [This edition also includes Pernette du Guillet’s Rymes and a selection of Blasons anatomiques du corps féminin, both worth reading.]
Joachim Du Bellay, La Défense et illustration de la langue française, in any edition (for instance, in Du Bellay, Les Regrets, ed. J. Borel and S. de Sacy, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Poésie/Gallimard, 1975).
Marguerite de Navarre, L’Heptaméron, ed. Simone de Reyff (Paris: Flammarion, coll. ‘GF’, 1982).
Further secondary reading will be provided in due course.