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FREN 371 - 19th Century Best Sellers

In this course, we will read many of the most widely-sold (but not necessarily the most well-received) works of the nineteenth century; learn about how they were published, marketed, and received by critics and readers alike, and locate their place in today's literary canon. Our inquiry will be framed by essays on developments in print technology, literacy and the culture of publishing in the nineteenth-century. Some of the questions that will guide us during the semester are: How did drastic changes in primary education, print technology, literary patronage and publishing in nineteenth-century France affect the kind of books that were sold? Did high sales in one century translate into literary value in the next? Is there a correspondence between negative nineteenth-century criticism and critical importance in the twentieth? Was there a social difference between those who were reading and those who were evaluating this literature? How does the notion of literary value respond to the pressures of mass media markets? Readings with include Eugène Sue's Les Mystères de Paris (excerpts) and Victor Hugo's Les Misérables (excerpts), la Comtesse de Ségur's Les Malheurs de Sophie, Jules Verne's Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, Emile Zola's L’Assomoir and a 21st century bestseller, Muriel Barbery’s L’Élegance du hérisson. This course fulfills the upper-division post-1800 literature requirement for the French major.
Core:HALC - Hum, Art, Lit, Cul
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