The Question of Evil from Voltaire to Camus (MSON) (US)

Grades 11–12
Prerequisite: Francophone Cultures or equivalent
Taught by: Maret School
May also be taken for a humanities credit

Students explore how Francophone literature represents and makes sense of the manifestation of evil in the modern world. From Candide’s satirical treatment of theodicy and optimism to The Plague’s absurdist yet hopeful approach, students examine the many facets of evil, how they face it, and its sources. Students also explore in detail the historical events that frame their readings, with a particular emphasis on the impact those events have had on the arts and philosophy. By the end of the year, students will possess the skills to read any literature that might be presented to them in college; to write a cohesive, well-articulated academic paper in French that is linguistically fluid and intellectually inquisitive; to deliver a TED Talk-style presentation on a literary or philosophical topic. Readings include: La peste (Camus), Huis-Clos (Sartre), Antigone (Anouilh), Le Horla (Maupassant), Tous mes amis (Ndiaye), Candide (Voltaire), Le Petit Prince (Saint-Exupéry). This class is conducted entirely in French.