The Enlightenment and Other Cultures

FRIT-F635 — Spring 2020

Guillaume Ansart
LI W305
Days and Times
4:00P-6:00P Thursdays
Course Description

This seminar will explore representations of non-European cultures in 18th-century French literature. Why is the reflection on cultural difference, cultural “otherness,” so central to the Enlightenment project? Is the figure of the cultural “other” a mere propaganda tool for 18th-century writers, or is their interest in such a figure a sign of genuine perception of different cultures and their specificity? How did Enlightenment thinkers see the relationship between the diversity of peoples and cultures on one hand, and the unity or universality of human nature on the other? Such questions as these will be raised during the course of the semester. Readings will focus mainly on the Enlightenment proper, but we will begin the course with texts from the Renaissance and end with works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tentative reading list:

Montaigne, “Des cannibales,” “Des coches
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
Prévost, Histoire d’une Grecque moderne
Mme de Grafigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne
Voltaire, L’ingénu
Raynal/Diderot, Histoire des deux Indes (extraits)
Diderot, Supplément au voyage de Bougainville
Rousseau, Discours sur les sciences et les arts
Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité
Rousseau, Essai sur l’origine des langues
Chateaubriand, Atala
Mme de Duras, Ourika
Lévi-Strauss, Tristes tropiques

Class number: 30539 (off campus students only)

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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