There was recent debate in France about the modern relevance of Madame de Lafayette’s seventeenth-century work, La Princesse de Clèves. This heated controversy began when Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that the study of this text was useless. His comments incited fervent discussion in French academic, artistic, and political circles. There were varied responses to his attack on the study of literature such as political calls to action via videos and blogs, a documentary about adolescents in a troubled suburb identifying with this text on a very personal level, and a modern cinematographic adaptation of the story. The compelling history of this text along with its importance in contemporary French society and culture make the study of this work highly relevant for students. This website has been designed to offer strategies for teaching this seminal work to intermediate-level college students in a way that is dynamic, engaging, and perhaps most importantly that highlights the connection between this literary text and contemporary social concerns of young people in today’s world. Bon courage!
*I would like to thank the MIT Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures for the Gilberte Furstenberg and Douglas Morgenstern Grant that allowed me to develop these pedagogical materials.