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Week 1 Activities

1. Self, family, context

Read pp. 20 - 36 of the extract below:

Cholakian, P. 2000 Cholakian, P. (2000) Introduction: The Woman in the Mirror. In: Cholakian, P. Women and the politics of self-representation in seventeenth-century France. Newark; London: University of Delaware Press, Associated University Presses, Ch.1, pp.19-44(PDF Document)


Think about the following questions:

  • Why has this extract been chosen as a 'way in' to this module?
  • What new things have you learned from it?
  • What issues particularly influenced women's lives and family life in this period?
  • What do we need to pay particular attention to as we try to construct pictures of the family in this period?


2. Perrault: Contes en vers; Histoires ou contes du temps passé

Listen to the lecture podcast and follow the powerpoint slides (click here to access these)

Read the prefaces to the Contes en vers and Histoires ou contes du temps passé.

Close analysis:
the prefaces

Working individually, examine these analyses by Perrault of the literary, social and moral worth of his Contes. Think particularly about:


  • Images of the parent-child relationship presented here.
  • The role of education in the Contes as Perrault sees it.
  • The moral order endorsed by Perrault through the Contes.
  • The Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes and its social impact.

3. Perrault: Contes en vers

Griselidis and Peau d'âne (including the letter 'A monsieur... en lui envoyant Griselidis')

Work through the following tasks individually:

  • Find out about the history of these tales: are there previous versions? If so, do they differ from Perrault's?
  • Identify and analyse the role of mother figures in the tales
  • Now do the same with father figures
  • What might readers of these tales deduce from them about the experience of being a daughter?
  • What does Perrault say about his own social / cultural context through the tales? How does he do this?
  • Think about the form and structure of each of these tales.

4. Background and context

Watch the introductory lecture here to familiarise yourselves with the overall scope and shape of the module (key dates, ideas, approaches)