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Week 7 Activities


Racine: Athalie

Read the play.

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

Read the extract by Jonathan Dewald (Aristocratic Experience and the Origins of Modern Culture (University of California Press, 1993)). Click to connect to the electronic version here. You should read pp. 69 - 79.

Close analysis of the play

Read carefully and comment upon the following passages (each group will focus on one passage in particular, but you should all read them through):

1. The destiny of Joas: Joad and Josabet in conflict? I, 2, lines 173 - 296.

2. Athalie's dream: II, 5, lines 464 - 555.

3. Athalie meets Joas: II, 7, lines 620 - 737.

4. The destiny of Joas: the role of Jehovah: V, 6 - 8, lines 1768 - 1815.

As you read, think particularly about the following key themes:

  • Parenthood
  • Childhood
  • The importance of the figure of the mother
  • The locus of power in the play: who is in control?

For wider discussion

Think about the Dewald extract on aristocratic culture and its relevance for the study of this play. What does Dewald have to say about the significance of family and heredity in this period? The following prompts may help you to organise your thoughts:

  • Tension between self and family duty
  • Desire for resemblance / continuity between generations
  • Rank and competition within the family
  • The family and violence
  • The family and guilt

How significant, in your view, are Dewald's ideas about class to our study of the family, in this and the other texts we have covered so far?

Research questions

In your groups formulate a research topic relating to Athalie. Areas you might consider include:

  • The significance of time (past, present, future)
  • The role of the child / childishness
  • Heroism and gender
  • The nature of God / the gods
  • The Absolutist Court: an influence on the play?

Each group should source 3 items (book, web, journal articles; book chapters; books) relating to your topic or to the play more widely and add them to the bibliography on the wiki.

In the comments section, explain why these sources are useful.Choose one item and review it critically in no more than 200 words.


Each group should choose 3 terms of interest that emerge from the text and add them to the glossary.