Fall 2013

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

Listed in: French, as FREN-346

Formerly listed as: FREN-46


Laure A. Katsaros (Section 01)


Images of childhood have become omnipresent in our culture. We 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.  Drawing from literature, children's literature, anthropology, philosophy, art, and film, we 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 pay particular attention to the issues of nature vs. nurture through the example of  the "wild child" Victor, to nineteenth-century theories of child-rearing, and to the symbolic importance of children in avant-garde art.

Readings will include selections from J.J. Rousseau; Victor de l'Aveyron by J. Itard; selected poems and prose by Baudelaire; Les Malheurs de Sophie by the Comtesse de Ségur; selected stories by Guy de Maupassant; selected poems by Arthur Rimbaud; Jules Vallès, L'Enfant; and the Surrealist play Victor ou les enfants au pouvoir by Roger Vitrac. We will look at nineteenth-century artists' visions of childhood, with a particular emphasis on female artists such as Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and Berthe Morisot. We will also discuss films by Clement, Truffaut, Bresson, and Jeunet, among others. Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following--FREN 207, 208, 311, 312 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Katsaros.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2023