FR20140 Versailles: Power, Politics & Spectacle

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module examines the dynamics of court life in Louis XIV's Versailles, and the fashion in which art and spectacle contributed towards the construction of the cult of the Sun King. The focus will be on accounts of court festivities, memoirs, moralist texts and political texts. Throughout the module, we will anchor the artistic and literary culture in the political and historical context of the period. Attention will also be given to the criticisms of the king, and the fragility of the mythic cult surrounding his regime.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:identify and explain the key features of court society under Louis XIV;understand key political ideas in circulation regarding authority and governance; be able to assess the role which the printed book / festival book played in the monumentalisation of the king and court; evaluate the relationship between art and the representation of power;articulate their ideas in a coherent essay form.

Indicative Module Content:

Political concept of the 'ideal prince' - political theory and Louis XIV's memoirs
Festival books: Félibien's *Relation de la fête de Versailles*, 1668
La Bruyère's satirical portrait of court society in his *Caractères*
Fénelon's criticism in the *Lettre à Louis XIV*

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, critical writing, seminar discussion. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

An interest in cultural history would be an advantage. Considerable proficiency in French language is essential since all source material is in French (and is not available in translation).

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
FR10020 - French Language I b, FR10070 - French Grammar & Expression

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Essay / commentary Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: 2,000-word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback provided individually in tutor's written comments on returned work during the trimester and also globally in following lecture.