Spring 2011

Enfants Terribles: Childhood in Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Art

Listed in: French, as FREN-46


Laure A. Katsaros (Section 01)


Images of childhood have become omnipresent in our culture. We tend to fetishize childhood as an idyllic time, preserved from the difficulties and compromises of adult life; but the notion that children’s individual lives are worth recording is a relatively modern one.  This course will try to map out the journey from the idea of childhood as a phase to be outgrown to the modern conception of childhood as a crucial moment of self-definition. We will examine literary works as well as historical and theoretical sources. We will also look at nineteenth-century artists’ visions of childhood, with a particular emphasis on female artists such as E. Vigée-Lebrun, Berthe Morisot, and Mary Cassatt. 

Literary readings will include selections from Rousseau, Confessions; and Chateaubriand, Mémoires d’outre-tombe; Gérard de Nerval, Sylvie; Stendhal, Vie de Henry Brulard; selected poems and prose by Baudelaire; Comtesse de Ségur, Les Malheurs de Sophie; selected stories by Guy de Maupassant; Emile Zola, Une page d’amour; Jules Vallès, L’enfant; Jules Renard, Poil-de-Carotte.

Theoretical and historical readings will include essays by Philippe Ariès, Michelle Perrot, André Breton, and Jacques Lacan.  Conducted in French.

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


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018, Fall 2020