Spring 2018

Enfants Terribles: Childhood in French Literature and Culture from Rousseau to the Surrealist

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 against nurture through the example of the "wild child" Victor. We will also discuss theories of child-rearing, the emergence of children’s literature, and the importance of childhood in avant-garde movements.  

Readings will include selections from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s treatise on education, L’Emile; Victor de l'Aveyron by Dr. Jean Itard; Les Malheurs de Sophie by the Comtesse de Ségur; stories by Guy de Maupassant; selected poems Baudelaire and Rimbaud; Jules Vallès, L'Enfant; and the Surrealist play Victor ou les enfants au pouvoir by Roger Vitrac. We will examine 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 classic films by René Clément and François Truffaut as well as contemporary French films about childhood. Conducted in French.

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


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


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