The French Revolution and Stendhal’s "The Red and the Black": Linking the Personal and the Political Using “Reacting to the Past”

By Kathleen A. Kelly.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 18, 2015 Free Download

Students find Stendhal’s great novel "The Red and the Black" highly readable and appealing, and it has been taught successfully in a variety of contexts. Regardless of context, however, because of the enormous scope of change in French history that shapes the novel, teaching it poses challenges. As one particularly effective way to meet those challenges, I propose teaching the novel in tandem with a study of the French Revolution that employs “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy. RTTP pedagogy uses games to engender engagement in historical issues not only at the intellectual, but also at the experiential level. Studying the French Revolution through this method enables students to appreciate the complex relations between the personal life of Stendhal’s hero, Julien Sorel, and his political and social situation. A course with the game and the novel at its core ensures a deep appreciation of the political and personal challenges of living during a pivotal era in European history.

Keywords: Teaching, Stendhal, The Red and the Black, French Revolution, Reacting to the Past

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.53-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 18, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 256.307KB)).

Prof. Kathleen A. Kelly

Professor of English, Arts and Humanities Division, Babson College, Babson Park, MA, USA

Dr. Kelly is a professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Division at Babson College. She received her Ph.D. in English from the Ohio State University and teaches and publishes in both literary studies and the theory and pedagogy of writing. Most recently she has published on Strindberg, Tim Winton, Julian Barnes, and Jamaica Kincaid. Her current literary research focuses on contemporary narrative.