Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
frenchitalian masthead frenchitalian masthead
David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Spring 2008


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37065 W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
HRH 2.112

Course Description

In this seminar we will look at essays of Montaigne from multiple perspectives, including the political and religious context in which they were written, the use of rhetoric and paradox, the relationship to predecessors (for example, Seneca and Erasmus), the author's deliberations on some major topics (for example, death, torture, suicide, imagination, skepticism, friendship, and justice), and the use and function of stories embedded in the essays.
During the course of the semester we will also look at the relevance of reader response criticism to the study of Montaigne (for example, we will ask to what extent Montaigne guides us as readers, and to what extent we may be free to interpret at will.) Finally, we will address the problem of finding a paper topic in one's field, the need to have a "problem" as well as a topic, the importance of distinguishing a practical topic from a research topic, the role of evidence, and so forth. COURSE NUMBER MAY BE REPEATED FOR CREDIT WHEN THE TOPICS VARY.

Grading Policy

Class contribution: 50%
Research paper (20 pp): 50%


Montaigne, Les Essais (edition de Pierre Villey, revised by V-L Saulnier, 1965, and reprinted in the series Quadrige)

Note: You have the option of downloading and printing out for free the essays of Montaigne. See


bottom border