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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Postgraduate Course: Passion and Politics in 17th century French Theatre (and beyond) (ELCF11008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will look at developments in French drama in the 17th century, from Baroque to Neo-classicism.
Course description This course will look at developments in French drama in the 17th century, from Baroque to Neo-classicism. Particular attention will be paid to Corneille, Molière and Racine and the social context which influenced their writing practice, but also on the influence they have subsequently exercised on modern writers such as Sarah Kane and Liz Lochhead.

Students will study the plays in their political and philosophical, and the way they contributed to contemporary discourses on the theatre. The plays will be discussed in relation to both their formal aspects (with reference, for example, to the Aristotelian tragedy revived by the neo-classical movement) and the role they play in exemplifying and shaping contemporary thinking.

We will also look at the way in which 20th century works, both original (Phaedra's Love) and adaptation (Misery Guts) address some of the issues raised in 17th century drama.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Further develop their knowledge and understanding of the ways in which performance and theatre have been discussed in a specific historical context.
  2. Explore in detail a range of dramatic material and discourses from the period.
  3. Develop an understanding of the relationships between dramatic practice and the society that generates it.
  4. Deepen their knowledge and understanding of selected themes and topics in ways that enable them to select and execute an independent piece of research.
  5. Gain a grasp of the methodological issues and problems of dramatic and cultural analysis, equipping them to create original academic work.
Reading List
Primary texts :
Jean Racine, Phaedra
----------------, Athaliah
Pierre Corneille, Cinna
---------------------, The Theatrical Illusion
Molière, Don Juan
-----------, The Misanthrope
Sarah Kane, Phaedra¿s Love (1996)
Liz Lochhead, Misery Guts (2002)

Secondary reading:
Aristotle, The Poetics
Barnwell H. T., The tragic drama of Corneille and Racine (1982)
Barthes, On Racine (1992)
Calder A., Moliere: The Theory and Practice of Comedy (1996)
Clarke D., Pierre Corneille, Poetics and political drama under Louis XIII (2209)
Cruickshank, ed., French Literature and its Background- Vol. 2 The seventeenth Century (1969)
De Mourgues O., Racine or the triumph of relevance (1967)
Goldmann L., The Hidden god (1970)
Hammond N., Creative Tensions: an introduction to Seventeenth-Century French Literature (1997)
Hubert J. D., Molière and the comedy of intellect (1962)
Knight R. C., Racine: modern judgements (1969)
Knutson, Harold C., Molie¿re : an archetypal approach / Harold C. Knutson (1976)
Moore W. G., Molière, a new criticism (1949)
Phillips H., The Theatre and its Critics in Seventeenth-Century France (1980)
Pocock G., Corneille and Racine: Problems of tragic form (1973)
Graham Saunders, Love me or Kill me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002)
Stone, Harriet Amy, The classical model : literature and knowledge in seventeenth-century France (1996)
Turnell M., The Classical moment (1947)
Phaedra's Love by Sarah Kane, Review by: Elizabeth Klett, Theatre Journal, Vol. 55, No. 2 (May, 2003), pp. 337-339
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar Plan:

Week 1:
General introduction to political, philosophical and critical context of the plays that will be studied, notions of genre, terminology, etc
Reading Drama in translation.

Week 2:
Pierre Corneille, The Theatrical Illusion
Playwright¿s approach to genre, the purpose of tragedy, evolution of the genre

Week 3
Pierre Corneille, Cinna
Tragedy, passion and politics

Week 4
Jean Racine, Phaedra
Neo-classicism, the French understanding of ancient tragedy, passion versus reason

Week 5
Jean Racine, Athaliah
Biblical plays, religion and Politics

Week 6
Sarah Kane, Phaedra¿s Love (1996)
What makes a tragedy? Violence on the stage, why Phaedra?

Week 7
Molière, Don Juan
Religion in theatre, comedy as a political tool

Week 8
Molière, The Misanthrope
Passion vs reason, comedy as a mirror of society

Week 9
Liz Lochhead, Misery Guts (2002)
The enduring themes of comedy, politics on the stage

This final session will look back on all the texts studied in this option to discuss the main themes that have emerged from our previous sessions.

A number of short articles will be suggested for preparation to each week¿s seminar
Course organiserDr Veronique Desnain
Tel: (0131 6)50 3054
Course secretaryMiss Kara Mccormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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