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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Love and Sex in French Culture


Is love a French invention? How do we explore, through literature, the substance behind the stereotypical association of love, romance, and sexual pleasure with French culture? Do sex, passion, and love always unite in the pursuit of emotional fulfillment in human relations, according to this literature? What affiliations does this literature interweave between such relations of love, requited or unrequited, and pleasure, enjoyment, freedom, self-empowerment, on the one hand, and on the other hand, suffering, jealousy, crime, violence, negativity, notions of perversion, morbidity, and even death? How are problems of gender roles and human sexuality?i.e. Hetero-, bi-, homo- and other forms of sexuality--approached in this literature? What connections or conflicts are revealed in this literature between human love relationships and the social norms and conventions within which they occur, as well as the forms of political governance that have been practiced in France over the centuries? Those are some of the issues that are investigated in this course, which offers a broad historical overview of selective ways in which love, passion, desire and erotic behavior in French culture have been represented and understood in Literature and, more recently, in film, from the middle ages to the twentieth century. Readings are from major French authors drawn from various centuries such as Marie de France, Beroul, Moliere, de Sade, Flaubert, Gide, and Duras. They will be supplemented with screenings of optional films that are based on those texts or are pertinent to them in important ways. (Gen. Ed. AL)
Course Details

Winter 2021

Base Cost: $1,608 ($402/credit)
Term Fee: $47
Start date: Dec 07, 2020
End date: Jan 16, 2021
Last day to add: Dec 11, 2020
Last day to drop: Dec 11, 2020
Last day to withdraw: Dec 31, 2020