Si Versailles m'etait conte
Taught in French, this course examines the political, cultural, and artistic history of Versailles in the 17th and 18th centuries, emphasizing its role in the history of music. It analyzes the ways in which the Sun-King achieved the unification and centralization of the French nation through certain artistic politics which likewise set the scene for musical institutions. We will consider how the series of famous "querelles" (those of the so-called "Lullystes", "Ramistes", and "Bouffons") mobilized a critical reflection on music and the performing arts to spark an aesthetic revolution.
Although the works of Lully, Charpentier, Marais, Campra, Couperin, and Rameau – as well as their collaboration with writers, poets, dancers, and philosophers – testify to the extraordinary artistic ferment of this period, this rich heritage was largely forgotten after the Revolution. This seminar therefore seeks to investigate how these artists' creations articulated evolving ideas around the court, the monarchy, the State, and the private and public spheres, while exploring their resonances in present art and literature.
We will study comedy-ballets by Molière, lyrical tragedies by Corneille, opera-ballets by Lully, iconographic documents, texts by Diderot and Rousseau, critical essays by Beaussant and Apostolidès, as well as contemporary novels (Pascal Quignard, Tous les matins du monde) and films (Corneau’s adaptation of Quignard, Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette, Sacha Guitry’s Si Versailles m’était conté…).