Pleasure, Pain and Nostalgia in Belle Époque


M-A. Visoi


The delightfully simple “joie de vivre” of Parisian music-halls and cabarets fascinated the Western world and art took new forms with Impressionism and Art Nouveau during “La belle époque”, a period in European history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. This course will explore ideas and cultural representations through examples of French art, philosophy, and literature with an emphasis on the critical discussion of two literary narratives that challenged tradition and authority: Gustave Flaubert, “Madame Bovary”; Guy de Maupassant, “Bel-ami”. The literary themes of “guilt” and “self-quest” as well as the inherent philosophical tension between “pleasure” and “guilt” will be discussed and analyzed in the context of the bohemian culture of “La belle époque”. Multimedia presentations and selections from Fernando Trueba’s 1992 film “Belle époque” will supplement the reading material in the course. The course will be held in English.

Required texts (print or electronic copies):

Flaubert, “Madame Bovary”
Maupassant, “Bel-ami”
Film: “Belle époque” (Fernando Trueba, 1992)
A selection of course notes, multimedia presentations, and electronic copies of the two novels will be available from the course menu in Quercus.

Assignments and evaluation:

In-class essay (30%); In-class Oral presentation (30%), In-class Final essay (25%); Class participation and Overall assessment (15%).