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FR2102 Writing Romance and Desire


FR2102 Writing Romance and Desire

Terms 1 – 2

Convenor: Joe Harris

Tutors: Joe Harris, Hannah Thompson


Coursework (100%):
0% Formative written piece and four pre-block reading tests (0%)
30% Essay 1 (1,500-2,000)
70% Essay 2 (2,000-2,500)


This course will focus on four texts dealing with love and desire taken from pre-twentieth-century French literature; these will be studied in the light of their common themes and will be used to explore the following core issues:

    the persistent importance of the theme of passion and illicit desire to the Western literary canon (the constitution of a literary tradition);

    the variations in the literary responses to this theme in the light of prevailing moral climates, socio-economic structures and aesthetic considerations;

    the variables of the language of love and its literary realisation;

    the roles of the narrative voice;

    the key significance of spatial settings in the treatment of such a 'private' matter in a 'public' literary form

Key Primary Bibliography:

Set Texts

For French Students:

Prévost, Manon Lescaut (any edition)

La Princesse de Clèves (any edition)

Flaubert, Madame Bovary (any edition)

Dumas, La Dame aux Camélias (any edition)

For CLC students:

Prévost, Manon Lescaut (Penguin Classics)

The Princesse de Clèves, in The Princess de Clèves with The Princesse de Montpensier and The Comtesse de Tende, ed. and trans. by Terence Cave (Oxford World's Classics)

 Flaubert, Madame Bovary (Oxford World's Classics)

 Dumas, La Dame aux Camélias (Oxford World's Classics)


Secondary Literature: General, Theoretical, Introductory

Catherine Belsey, Desire: Love Stories in Western Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994)

Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot. Design and Intention in Narrative, Harvard University Press, 1992  

Peter Brooks, ‘Narrative desire’, Style, 18 (1984), pp. 312-327

Critical Terms for Literary Study, ed. Frank Lentricchia and T. McLaughlin, 2nd edn, Chicago and London, 1995 

Tony Tanner, Adultery and the Novel. Contract and Transgression, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979, repr. 1995  



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