This course examines the development of antislavery thought in French literature from the end of the eighteenth century through the first half of the nineteenth century. We will analyze the imagery, narratives and presuppositions on which authors relied and in turn reproduced to express antislavery sentiment. We will pay attention to how the Haitian Revolution; French abolition of the slave trade and other models of abolition shaped a culture of moral repugnance at France’s ongoing economic dependence on the practice of chattel slavery. Referring to this context, we will consider the particular voice of antislavery literature in producing abolitionist arguments. On what grounds did French authors understand and denounce colonial slavery? How did antislavery texts participate in a movement towards abolition? How did authors depict enslaved individuals and how did these texts contribute to nineteenth-century discourses on gender and race in France? These questions will lead students to confront the ambiguous and complicitous intersections between abolition, antislavery literature, imperial expansion and racism prior to the definitive abolition of slavery in 1848 and the establishment of France’s Second Empire.
Max Enrollment: 14
Instructor: Michelle Lee
Distribution Requirements: LL - Language and Literature
Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring