Basic Themes in French Literature and Culture

Photo of children in Luxembourg playing with toy sailboats on a pool in a public garden.

Enfants au Luxembourg jouant avec des bateaux à voiles sur le grand bassin du jardin. (Public domain image courtesy of Bibliothèque national de France.) 


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2011



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

Childhood is a source of fascination in most Western cultures. It is both a major inspiration for artistic creation and a political ideal, which aims at protecting future generations. Which role does it play in French society and in other francophone areas? Why is the French national anthem ("La Marseillaise") addressed to its "children"? This course will study the transformation of childhood since the 18th century and the development of sentimentality within the family. We will examine various representations of childhood in literature (e.g. Pagnol, Proust, Sarraute, Laye, Morgièvre), movies (e.g. Truffaut), and songs (e.g. Brel, Barbara). Course taught in French.

Related Content

Bruno Perreau. 21G.312 Basic Themes in French Literature and Culture. Spring 2011. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.