French literature and culture 2 (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Paola Perazzolo
Paola Perazzolo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 1, 2018 al Jan 12, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

In accordance with the specificities of the course of study, lessons aim at providing an introductory knowledge of French history and culture via the presentation of the French capital’s socio-historical and urbanistic development. The course will equally focus on deepening the interrelation existing between society, culture and literature during a part of the modern era (late Eighteenth-Nineteenth century) taking into consideration literary texts by canonical authors related to the main subject chosen. Lessons will be held in French. The critical bibliography is also in foreign language. This will contribute to improve students' language skills. At the end of the lessons, students will acquire socio-cultural, historical and literary knowledge specific to the chosen tourist and commercial orientation. They will also demonstrate that they can apply, in an autonomous way and in a foreign language, the acquired knowledge to the analysis of literary texts concerning the central subject of the course (the literary representation of the French capital).


The course, held in French, is aimed at introducing the historical, architectural and touristic aspects of the French capital from its foundation to the present day. This presentation will serve to subsequently propose some elements of reflection on the literary myth of a city whose literary description becomes an emblematic narrative characterizing much of the modernity of France: "c'est Paris qui fait le Français" (Montesquieu). In accordance with the specificities of the curriculum, the evocation of the history and architecture of monuments and salient places will also be functional to the contextual presentation of the literary perception of the city during different historical periods. The reading of primary texts (in French and in the indicated editions) and the analysis of representative anthological passages (provided during the lessons and also available in e-learning as constituting an integral part of the exam program) will serve to introduce these different representations. Particular attention will be given to the literary perception of the capital from the end of the eighteenth century until part of the second half of the nineteenth century: at the end of the Enlightenment, Paris definitively returns to be the political center of power, and the emergence of a new vision of the urban walk also determines a changed literary representation that will progressively evolve in the following century, when numerous authors describe a massively modified urban reality whose characteristics, aporias and contradictions are linked to historical-social changes.


- Pascal Vareika, Paris, brève histoire de la capitale, Paris, Parigramme, 2000 (or: Yvan Combeau, Histoire de Paris, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, [1999], 2016)
- Paris, Michelin, «Le Guide Vert», 2016

N.B. The Hachette, National Geographic and Touring guides are equally possible in order to deepen the tourist aspects, as long as they are purchased in recent editions. The knowledge of the main monuments and urban realizations evoked during the course (history, characteristics topographic locations) are requested.

Primary texts and critical bibliography:

- L.-S. Mercier, Tableau de Paris, (selezione)
- H. de Balzac, Le père Goriot, Paris, Le Livre de Poche, “Classiques”(préface, notes et commentaires par S. Vachon), 2004.
- E. Zola, Le Ventre de Paris, Paris, LGF, “Le Livre de Poche” (introduction de R. Abirached, commentaires et notes de Ph. Hamon e M.-F. Azéma), ultima edizione.

- Critical essays to be defined.

The detailed program, as well as further information on primary and critical materials (primary texts, anthological passages, critical essays) will be indicated at the beginning of the course. Non-attending students are invited to contact the teacher in order to define the program. The complete program for attending and non-attending students will be published in e-learning.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
H. de Balzac Le père Goriot Paris, Le livre de poche 2004 préface, notes et commentaires par S. Vachon
E. Zola Le Ventre de Paris Paris, Le livre de Poche   Introduction de R. Abirached, commentaire et notes de Ph. Hamon e M.-F. Azéma, ultima edizione
L.-S. Mercier Tableau de Paris Laffont 1990 Selezione indicata durante il corso dei capitoli

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam, held in French, will consist of an oral test to be held during the official sessions. The first part of the exam will focus on the evaluation of the historical-architectural-urban knowledge of the capital (see the lecture notes and the bibliography on the touristic and historical aspects of the French capital). The second part will concern the knowledge of the literary representation of the “Ville-Lumière”(anthological texts, primary texts, critical essays on the subject): students should prove their knowledge as well as their critical analysis skills (see course notes, critical essays and materials indicated in the primary bibliography).