FRENCH 115: The Rules of the Game: Social Constraint and Poetic Play in Medieval French Literature

Instructor: Raphaëlle Burns

This course will explore French literature and culture, from the 11th to the 15th century, including lyric poetry and narrative romance, history of medieval warfare, comedy, and class structures, through the lens of play. Games and entertainment were central to medieval life. But to what extent was literature itself conceived as a playful practice: a game with its rules and players, its strategies and rewards, but also with its tricksters and transgressors? Finally, how did medieval poets and storytellers mobilize metaphors of games and play to portray and problematize the political, moral, religious, and amorous codes of their time? Texts will be read in modern French. Discussion and assignments will be conducted in French.