Conclusion The Spirituality of French Literature

  • M. Martin Guiney


The theory and practice of literary study within the rigid structure of French national education is a complex topic to which this book may serve at best as an introduction. Many issues alluded to in the previous chapters simply have not received the scholarly attention they continue to require. Among these are the failed attempt by radicals of the First Republic to create a national literature modeled on a regenerated French language; the sexual prohibitions, modeled on those of the clergy, imposed by the Third Republic on the pedagogical profession, especially its female members; the partnership between the French government and private publishing houses that not only provided textbooks for the republican school, but also printed the best-selling polemical and theoretical treatises that followed the advent of pedagogy as an object of scientific inquiry and political debate; the gap separating the French literary canon of higher education from the narrower and more distorted canon of primary and secondary education; and many more. Most important of all, perhaps, is the centrality of the School in contemporary analyses of institutionalized practices of reading or not reading literary texts, whether from the sociological perspective (especially Bourdieu and his disciples), or from the tradition of close reading (Barthes, Genette, Greimas, and others). The field of French literary studies is poised to undertake a more extensive discussion of many of these issues.


Literary Study Literary Pedagogy Literary Text French School French Literature 
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© M. Martin Guiney 2004

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  • M. Martin Guiney

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