FR20260 Reading Prose in the Early Modern Period

Academic Year 2023/2024

The seventeenth century in France, known as le grand siècle, was a period of tremendous literary and artistic output: the development of classical drama, the birth of the modern novel, as we know it, of Cartesian philosophy, of the great moralists, of scientific and geographic discovery, of political propaganda and political dissent, of court ceremonial and social satire, at the court of Versailles. This module aims to examine three types of texts from this period: firstly, three short political texts from the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King; secondly, extracts from one of the earliest French travel accounts to India; and finally a short novella either by the woman who created the first modern novel, Mme de Lafayette, or by her contemporary Mme de Villedieu.

The aim of the module is to develop understanding of the political, cultural and literary contexts of C17 France while developing reading and analytical skills across a range of texts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

understand key political ideas in circulation regarding authority and governance in Louis XIV's France;

demonstrate understanding of early modern travel accounts of the 'Orient' and their reflection on the France of the time;

be able to analyse in detail a passage from Lafayette's *Princesse de Montpensier* or Villedieu's *Le Portefeuille*- both products of court society - and understand the key characteristics of their fiction;

articulate their ideas in a coherent essay form.

Indicative Module Content:

Le siècle de Louis XIV:

Les mémoires de Louis XIV (extraits sur Brightspace)
Félibien, Relation de la fête de Versailles du 18 juillet 1668 (extraits sur Brightspace)
Fénelon, Lettre à Louis XIV (1694)

Le siècle des voyageurs:

Extracts from François Bernier's travel accounts to India (1670s) (extraits sur Brightspace)

Le siècle du roman psychologique:

Lafayette, La Princesse de Montpensier (1662)


Villedieu, Le Portefeuille (1674)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; critical writing; seminars. 
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: In-class assignment Week 8 n/a Graded No


Examination: End of trimester exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Portfolio: Portfolio based on weekly preparation submitted Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.