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French 376 A: Culture, Politics, And Society In France From The Religious Wars To Revolutions

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
JHN 175
Geoffrey Turnovsky

Syllabus Description:

Geoffrey Turnovsky
Padelford C-237
Office hours: Thurs 11-1pm, and by appointment



Description. This course offers a historical exploration of France and the Francophone worldfrom the Religious Wars in the 1500s up to the Revolution of 1789. This critical moment witnessed the emergence of France as a modern state and, ultimately, a nation, with a centralized administration, an official language, and the claim to a shared French culture and national identity. We will read a mixture of historical documents from the time -- literary texts, political and philosophical writings, and adminstrative documents – along with secondary works to study the following:

* new theories and practices of kingship and monarchical power (absolutism; divine right, Versailles, the court and the cult of royal grandeur; the importance of military campaigns) as well as efforts to limit the scope and power of the king (noble and Parlementary resistence and revolt during the Fronde; the rise of public opinion in the eighteenth century, emerging ideals of the "Nation" and theories of "citizenship")

* cultural, literary and linguistic politics; culture and literature in the service of royal propaganda and the court; writers as critics of the king in a period of control and censorship; efforts to elevate and regulate French as the language of the King and both the royal court and the judicial courts

* social upheavals; the traditional "orders" -- the nobility, the clergy, the "third estate" -- transformed by the expanding administrative state and by economic and cultural changes brought on by new realities: urbanization, mobility, new consumption patterns entailed by global trade and colonialism

* shifting attitudes towards marriage and gender; notions of private life and the domestic sphere

* religion and politics, after the Religious Wars of the 1560s-1590s, with the establishment of a large Protestant population in a commited but strategic Catholic monarchy; tensions with Rome and the development of an autonomous French Catholicism in Gallicanism

* the importance of new media and communications environments; the rise and impacts of printing and the expansion of books and literacy; royal propaganda, censorship, and the use of pamphlets to contest royal power; creating and shaping public opinion; the postal system and the establishment of new interpersonal networks and a sense of privacy


Course Goals.

1) to understand the key political and social changes of France from the 16th to the late 18th centuries;

2) to understand, against the backdrop of this history, the development of intellectual culture in its major articulations from Humanism through Classicism and the Enlightenment;

3) to reflect more broadly upon the notion of culture and its relation to events and to media;

4) to develop analytical, reasoning, and writing skills.


Work, Expectations, and Grades:

Written work:  2 tests, accounting for 40%of your final grade.

           Scheduled for 2/14 (20%) and 3/14 (20%)

3 papers – 2 short papers (1-3 pages) and a longer paper (4-5 pages), accounting for 45%of final grade.

            Due 1/22 (10%), 2/21 (10%), and 3/18 (25% including 5% for topic and outline)

Class work:     will account for 15% of your final grade. This will include:

* 6 writing exercises to complete before the classes indicated (these are brief reflections [1-2 paragraphs] on one or more of the readings assigned for that class)

* in-class writing exercises

* in-class activities and discussions

Grade conversion (from % to 4.0)


Our course has been assigned a teaching associate.

                        Florentina Dedu-Constantin


                        Office: PDL C-228

                        Office hours: Tues, Thurs 1:30-2:30

In addition to grading, Florentina will be available to discuss paper ideas and will run workshops and reviews sessions throughout the quarter.



  1. Academic honesty and use of sources. Students in French 376, like all UW students, are expected to maintain “the highest standards of academic conduct,” and any misconduct will be taken very seriously. This includes cheating and plagiarism. Please consult the statement on “Student Academic Responsibility” prepared by the Committee on Academic Conduct in the College of Arts and Sciences:
  2. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the office of Disability Services which coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities:



Catalog Description: 
Studies the development of intellectual, literary, and artistic cultures in the context of the profound political and social evolutions of the Renaissance through the early nineteenth century in France. Taught in English.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 10:00pm