Dusk and Dawn: 17th- and 18th-century French Writers

(Panel)


French and Francophone / Women's and Gender Studies

Stephane Natan (Rider University)

This panel will focus on uncovering the ideas and philosophies proposed by 17th- and 18th-century French writers to criticize, change, or improve their world. We will discuss their personal ideas, beliefs, and value systems in light of the reality of their time, a period equated with the Classicism of Louis XIV’s long reign and the Philosophy of the Enlightenment. We will investigate their relationship with Cartesianism, Augustinism, Enlightenment, and other ideologies and the role the 17th- and 18th-century French writers played at the Court of France or in the famous Parisian salons. We will also see how the 17th- and 18th-century French writers were able—or unable—to express their individuality within these trends of thought within the overpowering influence of the absolute monarchy and the prestige of the French literary academies. All in all, this will lead us to analyze the connections between our writers with philosophies and groups as diverse and contradictory as Port-Royal, stoicism, libertinage, the world of the theater, preciosité, honnête homme, and philosophers. By doing so, the panel will attempt to ascertain if literature could be used as a pragmatic tool to change society and liberate individuals from religions, superstitions, and governmental censorship. 17th- and 18th-century authors will include female and male philosophers, moralists, essayists, poets, novelists, and playwrights. The method of analysis is open; feminist or comparative interpretations are more than welcome.

This panel will focus on uncovering the ideas and philosophies proposed by 17th- and 18th-century French writers to criticize, change, or improve their world. We will discuss their personal ideas, beliefs, and value systems in light of the reality of their time. 17th- and 18th-century authors will include female and male philosophers, moralists, essayists, poets, novelists, and playwrights. The method of analysis is open.