Spring 2025

Mirrors of the World: The Nineteenth-Century French Novel 

Listed in: French, as FREN-344


Laure A. Katsaros (Section 01)


The nineteenth century stands out as the golden age of the French novel. From Romantic stories of doomed lovers to the serial novel, the novel of manners, the roman à clef, and the epic novel, the novel experimented with new forms and explored virtually every aspect of French society. Balzac anchored the novel in the scientific observation of social and economic mores; George Sand spoke up for women’s rights; Alexandre Dumas told tales of persecution, revenge, and heroism; Eugène Sue uncovered the hidden world of criminals and sex workers in Paris; and Flaubert dissected provincial life with uncanny accuracy. This class will examine how the blossoming of the novel in the nineteenth century both reflected and inspired ideas of modernity. We will discuss how the French novel held a mirror to the emergence of the modern city, technological innovations (such as photography), early feminism and socialism. We will pair textual sources with visual materials such as paintings, photographs, and maps. Secondary sources will be drawn from the fields of anthropology, history, art history, and literary criticism. 

Spring semester: Professor Katsaros.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work; readings; oral presentations; group work; instruction in languages other than English; visual analysis; possibly some creative work and independent research

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2025