Jun 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2021-2022 
College Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

FREN 451 - Environmentalism in the 19th Century

Nature is a temple where living columns sometimes emit confused lyrics - Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal

To hell with civilization, long live nature and poetry ! - Théodore Rousseau, peintre

The Industrial Revolution and the rise of Capitalism had a major impact on the environment in France during the nineteenth century, as it did in other European countries and the U.S.  In what ways did the French respond to the environmental crisis in the nineteenth century and how did that set the stage for later developments?  In 1854, the same year that Thoreau published Walden, the French created the Société Nationale de la Protection de la Nature.  And in 1861 the first Réserve Naturelle was created by the French government to protect the forests of Fontainebleau from clear cutting, due in large part to the well-written petitions by writers and artists such as Victor Hugo, George Sand, and others.  In this course, we will look at a number of literary, cultural, and political texts written during the nineteenth century that focus on nature, the environment, and issues related to the rapid urbanization and industrialization of France.  We will also study artworks by the Barbizon school, and by later artists including the impressionists of the later part of the nineteenth century.  Texts will include works by well-known authors such as Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and Emile Zola, but also less well-known writers Olympe Audouard and Marceline Desbordes-Valmore among others.  We will also study a variety of
contemporary critical theories on the subject, from Claude Brosseau’s Romans-Géographes and Bertrand Westphal’s La Géocritique to Blanc, Pughe et Chartier’s works on l’écopoétique.
In the end, we will try to answer the question of why and how the green movement developed in France and why it has been so different (some would say “behind”) the ecology movements of other western nations in Europe and in North America. Taught in French. Prerequisite(s): FREN 306  . Offered occasionally. (4 Credits)