For Literature: The “Crisis of French”
Unlike the primary schools, in which one taught French literature with truncated, distorted, homogenized literary texts from the canon, or ones created ad hoc, to inculcate a nonliterary morale laïque, the secondary schools of the Third Republic were dominated by the principle of literature, in all its variety and integrity, as a foundation for pedagogy. The centrality of études littéraires (the term that competed with études classiques to designate literary studies) made the secondary school into a site of conflict. For centuries, the badge of accession to the upper classes was instruction in (though not necessarily knowledge of) Latin. As a result, the querelle lingered on in the form of a tacit assumption that classical culture stood for culture tout court. The challenge for French literary studies was therefore simply to accede to the status of pedagogical discipline, and then to develop a method.
KeywordsLiterary Pedagogy Literary Criticism Literary History Literary Text National Education
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