Intimate Spaces of the French Enlightenment (MLF2066)

StaffProfessor Melissa Percival - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The tutor will share her research interests and interdisciplinary research strengths. Interdisciplinary thinking – the ability to construct arguments and make thematic connections across disciplinary boundaries – is a key transferable skill. Specifically, studying this module should enable you to understand that notions such as privacy, selfhood and interiority have a history, and may have been construed differently in the past. Also that this history, because subjective, is hard to access. You will gain an understanding what was specific about the eighteenth century, and why these notions of private life came to the fore, as well as becoming familiar with key artistic styles (e.g. Rococo) and modes of writing (e.g. epistolary fiction) from the eighteenth century. You will learn to make connections between visual and written sources, understanding their common cultural underpinnings.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a sound general understanding of the chosen texts and paintings, including reference to their place in the literary/visual/cultural context of their time
  • 2. Make meaningful thematic and stylistic connections across different disciplines

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. With some guidance from the course tutor, evaluate and apply a range of critical approaches to the material covered
  • 4. Following broad guidelines, locate and identify library and electronic resources on a given topic

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Intruding
  • on the Past: Methodologies
  • The Rococo Interior
  • The Rococo ‘experience’: Crébillon’s Le Sopha
  • Visualising Seduction: Crébillon, Boucher and Fragonard
  • Enlightenment Morality: Greuze and Family Values
  • Lettres de Mistriss Henley : Portrait of a ‘Rational Marriage’
  • Reading and Writing the Self: Letters and Interiority
  • Rousseau: Solitude and Reverie
  • Rousseau’s Landscape: Mirrors of the Self
  • Concluding roundtable

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching15Lectures/Seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching1Conclusion
Guided independent study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written task500 wordsn/aWritten and oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essays totalling 2500 words1001 x 2500 words1-5Written feedback on standardised feedback form

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essays totalling 2500 words1 x 2500 words1-5Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon [known as Crébillon Fils], Le Sopha (1742). Garnier Flammarion.
  • Isabelle de Charrière, Lettres de Mistriss Henley (1784). MLA Texts and Translations.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rêveries du promeneur solitaire (1782). Garnier Flammarion.

These three texts above should be purchased in advance.

  • Selection of paintings by François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Baptiste Greuze and others, available online.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • A History of Private Life , ed. by Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby, vol. III: Passions of the Renaissance, ed. by Roger Chartier (Cambridge, Mass./London: The Bellknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1989)
  • Jean Starobinski, L’Invention de la liberté (Geneva: Skira, 1964)
  • Michel Delon, L’Invention du boudoir (Paris: Editions Zulma, 1999)
  • Katie Scott, The Rococo Interior (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1995)
  • Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France, ed. Richard Rand (Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College/ Princeton University Press, 1997)
  • Emma Barker, Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date