Fall 2016

Dream Worlds: Utopia and the French Imagination

Listed in: French, as FREN-347


Laure A. Katsaros (Section 01)


In the aftermath of the French revolution, utopias proliferated in France as perhaps never before. Socialist thinkers such as Charles Fourier and Henri de Saint-Simon invented entire systems designed to improve social justice, equality, and harmony. Utopian dreams were not restricted to political thought, however: technology, science, and the arts also inspired, and gave shape to, visions of a perfect world. This class will be an introduction to utopian thinkers, designers, and artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century and will ask why utopia had such a strong hold on the French imagination at the time. We will discuss artists’ communes, such as the Ecole de Barbizon; city planning and utopia; the development of science-fiction as a utopian genre; Georges Méliès and the beginnings of film; as well as the link between the creation of the French colonial Empire and utopia, through the example of Algeria.

We will be reading, among other sources, excerpts from Charles Fourier, Henri de Saint-Simon, and Etienne Cabet; futuristic novels by Jules Verne and Villiers de l’Isle-Adam; poetry and essays by Stéphane Mallarmé; and essays by historians Mona Ozouf, François Furet, Antoine Picon, and Michelle Riot-Sarcey. Class materials will also be drawn from film, architectural plans, and the visual arts. Conducted in French.

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


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Languages Other Than English


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2022