French 2112G
Sex and Seduction in the French Novel

Offered in English


Click here to read the article published in Western News (April 4th, 2013)


Syllabus - Click here to download


Course description
What is the relationship between seduction and the French novel? From its beginnings, with Mme de Lafayette's Princesse de Clèves (1678), the French novel has developed as a narrative of seduction, with sex, either explicitly or implicitly, at its centre. Yet sex also represents a form of impossibility; it is that which is gestured towards but can never be fulfilled. While all narratives can be said to be acts of seduction, the development of the novel in France examines the different possibilities of sex and seduction: as romance, as power, as alienation, as submission. Desire is fundamentally dangerous; it threatens the social order as well as the rules of gender. In these encounters between sex, seduction and the social, "love unceasingly prepares its own disappearance, acts out its dissolution" (Gilles Deleuze). This course will examine the relations among sex, seduction and the French novel through a mix of canonical and lesser-known works from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Books to buy
  • Course Package (available at the UWO Bookstore)
  • Mme de Lafayette, The Princesse de Clèves (1678)
  • Choderlos de Laclos, Dangerous Liaisons (1782)
  • Pauline Réage, The Story of O (1954)
Class participation
1 textual analysis (750 words)   15%
1 midterm test (1.5 hours)  15%
1 essay (2000 words) 30%
1 oral presentation (10 minutes) 10%
1 final exam (2 hours) 25%
Total: 100%

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