FR30370 Equality and Feminisms in C17 France

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module examines the numerous discourses which can be said to constitute early modern feminisms in seventeenth-centrum France, a period of tremendous social and cultural power for women, despite the constraints of the patriarchal paradigm which defined their lives. Across a wide range of texts, we will examine the pro-woman arguments which fuel the debates regarding the nature of the sexes before turning to the three earliest egalitarian texts in the history of French literature, by Marie de Gournay, Poulain de la Barre and Gabrielle Suchon, which posit what today we call gender equality. Questions examined will include the links between feminism and social stratification, the influence of Cartesian philosophy on constructions of gender, the debate concerning functionalist education, and the right of women to voluntary celibacy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

* analyse the constituent elements of early modern feminisms

* evaluate the conflicting discourses which constructed gender identity and gender relations in early modern France

* demonstrate a broad understanding of the history of ideas of equality and difference

Indicative Module Content:


Marie de Gournay, Egalité des hommes et des femmes, 1622
Madeleine de Scudéry, Les Femmes illustres, Vol 1, 1642
Poullain de la Barre, De l'Égalité des deux sexes, 1673
Gabrielle Suchon, Traité de la morale et de la politique, 1693
Gabrielle Suchon, Du Célibat volontaire, 1700

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Group discussion; lectures; seminars, critical writing. 
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 (normally week 7) Unspecified n/a Graded No


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


Portfolio: Submissions during the term based on tutorial preparation 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

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