Moliere: The Phenomenon of Laughter


A study of laughter as a human reflex – what makes us laugh? In the context of the Classical Age, and through the biography and the comedies of Molière.  The French theater has a deep-seated tradition of comedy dating from medieval times. The theater offers to the contemporary spectator a rich heritage as well as an opportunity for interrogation of contemporary life, then and now. The stage is a privileged site of collective memory, of entertainment, of meditation, of confrontation, of social critique, and of sociability. This course, centered on the problem of the phenomenon of laughter, aims to develop the students’ competence as theater critics, to explore together the question of the comical, and to address the following questions: What can the comical theater of the classical age still offer? We will also be mastering the language, the technical vocabulary of the theater. We will analyze the texts of Molière’s comedies in class. We will develop s socio-historical context that will help us to understand the reception of Molière’s theater in the 17th century, and consider what role Molière still plays today in the construction of French identity. Conducted in French.

Study of laughter as human reflex (what makes us laugh), and social critique (why and when), in the context of the Classical Age and through the comedy of Molière.
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Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • FL
  • ALP
Cross-Listed As
  • MEDREN 601S
Typically Offered
Fall and/or Spring