Feb 20, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
    
College Catalog 2023-2024

FREN 446 - The Animal and the Human in the French Enlightenment


In the French Enlightenment, the animal/human distinction lay at the center of key debates in literature, politics, philosophy, and the natural sciences. In this course, we will explore how writers used new conceptions of animal and human nature to formulate radical political views on the eve of the Revolution. We will critically examine eighteenth-century conceptions of anthropology, race, and human diversity developed in accounts of enfants sauvages and in natural science works. We will examine how new concepts of animality both reinforced and undermined traditional understandings of sex and gender. We will read literary speculations on hybridity and interspecies sexuality, and explore how materialists used the animal/human distinction to promote hedonism and vegetarianism and subvert conventional moral teachings. And we will review the place of companion animals (pets) in eighteenth-century French life, including Marie Antoinette’s royal menagerie. Primary works will include selections from authors including Buffon, Diderot, Julie de Lespinasse, Rousseau, Rétif, Sade, and Madame de Hecquet, and some contemporary theory. Taught in French. Prerequisite(s): FREN 306  . Offered occasionally. (4 Credits)