Seminar in French Civilization: The Heroism of Modern Life

Subject associations
FRE 527
Spring 2022
Göran Blix
Registrar description
How can modern bourgeois life still claim to be, as Baudelaire suggested, worthy of heroic treatment, despite the rise of democratic values? While many post-revolutionary thinkers opposed heroism on political grounds, or judged it historically impossible, some fashioned new democratic heroes reconciling exemplarity and typicality. Meanwhile, reactionary thinkers revitalized an older heroic code to justify hierarchy and order. We will examine the nineteenth-century crisis of heroism in a wide range of authors such as Balzac, Stendhal, Marx, Nietzsche, Carlyle, Emerson, Baudelaire, Comte, Michelet, Hugo, the Goncourts, Barrès, and Bergson.