Masterpieces of French Realist Fiction
This seminar examines the relations between culture and power in nineteenth-century France through the study of masterpieces of realist fiction. The realist novel is a cultural artefact specific to the nineteenth century, a genre born with the modern democratic nation-state at a time when (relative) freedom of expression allowed for the emergence of a public sphere. The four novels studied in this course also have in common that they are romans d’éducation (or Bildungsroman) thematically focused on young men’s struggles to succeed in a democratized society, i.e., to reap the revolutionary promise of freedom, fraternity, and equality. By giving voice and shape to the sociopolitical aspirations of the French people, the novel responded to the needs of an increasingly large reading public that faced the same dilemmas and recognized itself in it.
MARIE-PIERRE LE HIR joined the University of Arizona in 2000. Her research and teaching focus on French literature and culture from1789 to the present. She is the author of a book on Romantic theater (Le Romantisme aux enchères: Ducange, Pixerécourt, Hugo); the coeditor of French Cultural Studies: Criticism at the Crossroads; and the author of The National Habitus: Ways of Feeling French, 1789-1871.