Fall 2010

Agents Provocateurs: Scandalous French Artists, from Baudelaire to Céline

Listed in: French, as FREN-43


Laure A. Katsaros (Section 01)


“Merdre!” This is, famously, the opening word of Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu-Roi. First performed in 1897, Ubu-Roi illuminates in retrospect a key aspect of nineteenth-century French literature. Since the Romantics, French literature had been saying “Merdre!” to its bourgeois readers with remarkable consistency. From the bohemian to the poète maudit, from the dandy to the decadent, the art of provocation reached its peak in nineteenth-century France. In this course, we will explore the various aspects, meanings, and purposes of this strategy. We will examine the various forms of literary, artistic, and theatrical provocation, as well as their historical and critical significance. We will ask how and why the artist and the bourgeois were set up as enemies, and what effect this conflict has had on theories of artistic creation. We will also try to understand why the myths of the artist invented in the nineteenth century (such as the dandy, the bohemian, and the provocateur) still form an essential part of the critical discourse on the arts today. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following- French 07, 08, 11, 12 or equivalent. Fall semester. Professor Katsaros.

Cost: 35.00 ?


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010