Leanna Bridge Rezvani

Teaching Ideas

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Introduction: Before reading excerpts of Lafayette’s text, I encourage my students to read the biographical information on Madame de Lafayette and the plot summaries found on this website.  This background knowledge provides them with some basic information that can help them as they begin their exploration of La Princesse de Clèves.

Films: I frequently use the film segments listed on the film page of this site with my students.  Students will typically read an excerpt of Lafayette’s text, then we will compare and contrast the different representations in the various films.  Occasionally we will read an excerpt, watch the film versions, and then they will prepare a theatrical representation in modern French for their classmates.  For writing practice, they often read one of the critiques of the films and then write their own.  With Nous, Princesses de Clèves, we discuss the importance of French culture being accessible to all as well as immigration, the contemporary education system, etc.

Sarkozy and La Princesse: After having read several excerpts of the text, we discuss the importance of literature and culture in contemporary French society.  Students research the links between culture and politics, such as exploring the role of the Minister of Culture in France.  Then they consult all the pages, articles, and blogs about Sarkozy and La Princesse de Clèves.  They always have interesting reflections about Sarkozy’s comments and the response they sparked in French academic circles.  We conclude this portion with a debate where I divide the class into two groups, a pro-Princesse and anti-Princesse group, and they have to present arguments from their assigned position.  Students typically prepare both sides of the debate before coming to class that day and it is always a lively and engaging discussion.  Following the publication of the 2014 Pléiade edition of Madame de Lafayette’s works, I have also added a “still a hot topic in 2014-15” section to the page on Sarko & La Princesse.

Various Media: Please consult this page to direct students to various radio programs and television interviews on La Princesse de Clèves.  There are also some suggestions for different pedagogical resources that I have found to be quite valuable.

La Princesse de Montpensier: More advanced students can also read La Princesse de Montpensier and discuss the parallels between the texts.  A course more centered on films could include watching portions of Bertrand Tavernier’s recent adaptation of La Princesse de Montpensier.  I suggest sending students to this website which alludes to the Sarkozy controversy as well as Tavernier’s film. In my intermediate-level course, I offer this as an extra credit option for students who want to do extra work.

http://h-france.net/fffh/the-buzz/la-princesse-de-montpensier/

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