FR20250 Social Networks: Experiments in Early Modern Friendship

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module examines the notions of sociability which animated seventeenth-century French salons and underwrote the Republic of Letters. Students will consider some of the models of friendship, conversation, and intellectual exchange to which seventeenth-century scholars aspired and analyze how and why these models featured in their practices of collective curiosity. Students will study the writings of male and female luminaries as well as the letters of lesser-known intellectuals, and then experiment with early modern scholarly epistolary and conversational practices for themselves and reflect upon the utility of such methods today.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this model, students should be able to:

• Recognize the cultural choreography surrounding favors, gifts, introductions, jokes, collaboration, apologies, and thanks, in seventeenth-century France.
• Articulate how the conventions of early modern intellectual networking expressed the philosophical and cultural values of the Grand Siècle.
• Reflect upon contemporary practices and ideals of scholarly sociability and compare them to those of the early modern period.

Indicative Module Content:

Selected letters from Élie Bouhéreau and Mme de Sévigné, Les Maximes of La Rochefoucauld, Madeleine de Scudéry’s Conversations sur divers sujets, etc.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Small-group teaching; critical reading; group work; class discussions; lectures; practice/experimentation. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Salon practice, weeks 9-12 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: Letter writing portfolio, weeks 3-7 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Class Test: In-class test Week 8 n/a Graded No


Examination: End-of-trimester exam Coursework (End of Trimester) No Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.