French 455 French Literature of the Renaissance Fall 2015

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French 455 French Literature of the Renaissance Fall 2015
Professor Bruce Hayes

Office hours: Tuesdays 4–5 pm, Thursdays 11–12 and by appointment

Office: 2067 Wescoe Telephone: 864-9028


Course Description
In this survey course on the literature of the Renaissance, we will be reading several works that represent the major literary currents of sixteenth-century France. In order to appreciate more fully these texts, we will be doing additional readings and conducting class discussions on the history, politics, aesthetics, and philosophy of this period. This course will expose you to a significant amount of the diverse literary production of the French Renaissance, a period marked by great activity, experimentation, and tumultuous change. One of the primary goals of this course is to discover ways in which these Renaissance writers are pertinent and relevant to our world today, as many of the ideas explored in their writings have contributed vitally to current conceptions and debates about education, politics, religion, and self-understanding.
This semester, as we read and discuss these texts, we will be considering questions of sustainability, conceived largely to include topics such as equity and social justice, as well as environmental questions. To guide our exploration, we will use a concept of great importance to Renaissance writers and thinkers—what Horace called the aurea mediocritas, or golden mean. We will look at how this concept can help us approach complex problems, ranging from personal challenges and choices to ideal forms of society and government. It is my hope that by the end of the course, you will see how many of the questions that occupy our society today were very much at the forefront of Renaissance literature and ideas.

Required texts

PLEASE NOTE: While I am aware that all of these works are available for free on the internet through various outlets such as Kindle and Project Gutenberg, you must purchase the physical copies of the books listed below and bring them to class with you. Failure to do this will result in a lower participation grade.

Rabelais, François. Gargantua (Folio, edited by Emmanuel Naya and Valérie Lagier)

Navarre, Marguerite de. Heptaméron (Flammarion)

Du Bellay, Joachim. Les Regrets (Gallimard)

Ronsard, Pierre de. Les Amours (Flammarion)

Montaigne, Michel de. Essais (Petits classiques Larousse)

Course requirements and grading

Preparation: Careful reading—including the necessary study of vocabulary—before class is imperative. Each of you will keep a Reading Journal in which you will note unfamiliar vocabulary with definitions in English (you should average at least two to three words per page read, but no more than five or six; for poetry, you should look up all unfamiliar vocabulary), summaries of the text (these do not need to be elaborate), and questions you may have. These will be checked and graded periodically and without warning. You are responsible for bringing your reading journal to class each day. If you forget it on a day I am checking journals, you will receive a ‘0’ for that reading journal assignment.
Attendance: Presence and participation in class is crucial. More than two unexcused absences will strongly affect your grade for the class. Beyond two absences (rather than check doctor’s notes and other such practices, I will assume that all of your absences are excused and grant you a maximum of two for the semester), you will receive a 3% reduction for your final grade with each additional absence. Tardiness will also adversely affect your grade for the class, as each tardy will count as half an absence. If you know in advance that you will be absent, please let me know. If absent, it is your responsibility to find out from a fellow student what was done in class and to be prepared to participate fully at the next class. If you miss a quiz or in-class assignment, you will not be allowed to make it up. The only exception to this is if you are participating in a university-approved activity or you have medical or other documentation which makes it clear that you could not have physically made it to class that day.
Participation: You will be expected to participate in meaningful ways each class. Your participation grade will be assessed based on both the quality and quantity of your class participation. If you overly dominate class discussion, speak out of turn, interrupt others, you will be assessed accordingly. On the other hand, if you spend the semester never saying anything unless under extreme duress, this will also have a negative effect on your participation grade. Problems with attendance and/or tardiness will inevitably have a negative impact on your ability to participate fully in the class. Participation in class should always be in French. If you make lots of comments in English, you will be assessed accordingly.
Writing: The main writing project for this course will be a well-researched five- to six-page research paper (1,500-1,800 words, plus bibliography). To achieve this, we will break the assignment down into multiple steps—you will first submit a 250­–300 word abstract (while this first version will not be graded, you will be penalized if you do not submit a reasonably well-written abstract), followed by a second version of your abstract, then an annotated bibliography (this should contain at least five to seven sources, including at least three books and four well-selected academic articles, with research materials in both French and English), before finally submitting the paper at the end of the term. Please note that I heavily penalize work that does not meet the minimum requirements for the assignment.
Group Project: You will be assigned to a group and will spend the semester preparing a presentation on a given author and exploring how that author addresses questions of sustainability in his or her writings. You will be given class time throughout the semester to work on the project and I will meet individually with the groups to discuss your project. Half of your grade for this project will be assessed by me; the other half will be assessed by your fellow group members.
Quizzes: There will be unannounced quizzes throughout the semester based on your readings and class discussion.
Recitation: At the end of the poetry section, you will be expected to memorize and to recite a poem in class which you will select from a list I will give the class. If you refer to a copy of the poem while doing your recitation, you will receive a ‘0’ for the assignment. You will prepare a 4- to 5-minute explication de texte on the poem after reciting the poem. For this part, you should use notes. Your explication should include a formal analysis of the poem’s versification and rhyme scheme, observations about poetic figures and devices found in the poem, and illustrations of connections between the poem’s forme and fond.

Attendance & participation 15%

Reading journals 10%

In-class quizzes 15%

Recitation and explication 10%

Abstract (second version) 5%

Annotated bibliography 5%

Research paper 30%

Group project 10%

Grading scale:

I use the +/- system:









Please note that I do not round up grade percentages. (e.g. 89.8% is a B+, not an A-.) Please also note that 94%, not 93%, is my cut-off point for an A.
Additional Information
Cell phones: This is a classroom, not your living room. Any questions? And yes, when you have it on vibrate, we can all still hear it. Also, this classroom is a laptop-free zone, with the exception of group project work days. I will be happy to discuss this with you if this is a problem.
Assignments: NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED, NO EXCEPTIONS. Papers must be submitted to me in Word format on Blackboard. (If you use a word processing program other than Word, remember to save the file as a Word document--.doc or preferably .docx.) When I have finished grading an assignment, I will send the class an e-mail notifying everyone that they can retrieve it on Blackboard. Students should be sure that all work submitted is entirely their own. This means that outside assistance is NOT allowed (that is, tutors, friends, native speakers, electronic and/or computer-assisted translators, translating programs, etc.). However, I will be happy to help you myself if you give me a draft two weeks before the due date, a practice I strongly recommend.
Blackboard and e-mail: I use Blackboard to provide you with various handouts, guides, etc. It is your responsibility to check Blackboard regularly and check e-mail at least once a day for messages I periodically send to the class.

Disabilities: Please let me know if you are having difficulty with any aspect of the course; I will try to help in any way I can. If you have a disability that might affect your work, tell me as soon as possible so that we can discuss appropriate adjustments to enable you to complete the course requirements. The staff of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), 135 Strong, 785-864-2620 (v/tty), coordinates accommodations and services for KU courses. If you have a disability for which you may request accommodation in KU classes and have not contacted them, please do as soon as possible. Please also see me privately in regard to this course.

Plagiarism: “Plagiarism and cheating are serious academic offenses that should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson or Language Coordinator. Whenever a student is caught cheating (whether copying from another student's paper or plagiarizing printed or electronic sources or other sources), the instructor will inform the Chairperson of the Department, who—upon concurring with the instructor—will forward a “CHARGE OF ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT FORM” to College of Liberal Arts with a recommendation for the appropriate sanction.”
Instances of students “Googling” their research and then either copying and pasting or slightly modifying content without citing their source(s) in the paper are on the rise. Below is a link to one section on plagiarism and how to avoid it from the KU Writing Center home page. I strongly encourage you to review this and other material in the section on plagiarism. Whether intentional or not, improper citation or not crediting your sources constitutes plagiarism, and in any instance where I find this, I will follow departmental and College procedures.

ABOUT THE USE OF TRANSLATION PROGRAMS: The use of computer or on-line translation programs is NOT permitted in any French or Italian course and is considered cheating. As opposed to dictionaries and grammar references, these programs are not a learning tool because they simply provide a translation, rather than allowing you to choose among various words/tenses/etc. to come up with the best translation on your own. Moreover, translation programs produce bizarre and incorrect translations that are notoriously easy to identify. Students will learn far more by doing their own work than by risking serious academic consequences.
Final remark: Please remember that all of the content in this course (lectures, handouts, etc.) is my intellectual property. You are not to record me nor are you to distribute (electronically or otherwise) material from this course.

Emploi du temps


En classe

À préparer

25 août


27 août

La Renaissance et la durabilité

« Introduction à la Renaissance » ; Alex Steffen, « Worldchanging » (both available on Blackboard)

1 sep

Guide de lecture (Blackboard) ; Gass article (Blackboard) ; Gargantua: Prologue de l’auteur, chap. 1

3 sep

Group work (organizational)

Gargantua : chap. 3-4, 6-7, 11, 13-15

8 sep

Group work (end of class)

Gargantua : chap. 16-24

10 sep

Gargantua : chap. 25-33

15 sep

Gargantua : chap. 38-41, 45

17 sep

Gargantua : chap. 52-58

18 sep

À rendre avant 18h00 : brouillon, « abstract » (résumé)

22 sep

Heptaméron : Prologue, nouvelles 8, 19

24 sep

Individual and group consultations

2:30–5:00 pm

Preparation for individual and group consultations

29 sep

Heptaméron : Prologue de la 3e journée ; nouvelles 21, 22

1 oct

Heptaméron : nouvelles 24, 26, 30

2 oct

À rendre avant 18h00 : « abstract » (résumé)

6 oct

Research training 

Heptaméron : nouvelles 11, 33, 69 (cf. Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles #17—Bb)

8 oct

Louise Labé (Blackboard)

13 oct


15 oct

Meet at Spencer Research Library!

Du Bellay, Défense et Illustration de la Langue française : I.3, 7-8, 11 ; II.3-4 ; Conclusion de tout l’œuvre

20 oct

Meet at Spencer Research Library!

Du Bellay, Les Antiquités : 1, 3-6, 25, 30, 32

22 oct

Du Bellay, Les Regrets : 1, 4, 7, 9, 13, 31, 130, 180

27 oct

Ronsard, Les Amours : ‘vœu’ (p. 57), 1, 4, 9, 20, 23

29 oct

Ronsard, Les Amours : 49, 57, 66, 71, 101, 139

3 nov

Ronsard, Les Amours : ‘Ode à Cassandre’ (p. 153), Elégie III (p. 156) ; Continuation des amours : 1 (p. 157), 65, 70 ; Nouvelle Continuation des Amours : ‘A son livre’ (pp. 214-18) ; Sur la mort de Marie 5 (p. 238) ; Second livre des sonnets pour Hélène 24 (p. 298)

5 nov


Group work (end of class)

6 nov

À rendre avant 18h00: « Annotated bibliography » (bibliographie annotée)

10 nov


Group work (end of class)

12 nov

“Quitting the Paint Factory” (Blackboard) ; « Au lecteur » p. 24 ; « De l’oisiveté » (Blackboard)

17 nov

« Des cannibales » pp. 108-23

19 nov

« De l’expérience » pp. 226-46 (line 672), « Me, Myself, and I » (Bb)

24 nov

Group work (end of class)

« De l’expérience » pp. 246-69 (line 1423)

26 nov


30 nov

Date limite pour les brouillons

1 déc

« De l’expérience » pp. 269-90 (fin)

3 déc

Group presentations

8 déc

Group presentations

10 déc

No class (professor out of town at conference)

11 déc


11 déc

À rendre avant 18h00 : « Research paper » (article de recherche)

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