Approaches to Teaching Montaigne’s Essays

  • Editor: Patrick Henry
  • Pages: xii & 190 pp.
  • Published: 1994
  • ISBN: 9780873527194 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873527200 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Montaigne's Essays Cover

Approaches to Teaching Montaigne’s Essays is a thorough course preparation aid for instructors who are unfamiliar with Montaigne, and its valuable insights will challenge experienced teachers to consider new approaches to the text. It is a pleasure to recommend such a useful guide to teachers who will find stimulating ideas to enhance their own as well as their students’ appreciation of the Essays.”

French Review

“Highly recommended for all levels.”


Debated and discussed by countless writers and readers during the last four hundred years, Montaigne’s Essays constitutes the first example of a major new literary genre and originates the moralist tradition in France. While Montaigne has long been a staple of the French language classroom, recent scholarship on genre and gender studies, intertextuality, reader-response theory, rhetoric, and other critical perspectives has brought the Essays into an impressive array of undergraduate courses and seminars. This volume in the popular Approaches to Teaching World Literature series evaluates the abundant analytic and bibliographic material on the Essays and offers detailed strategies and suggestions for teaching the text in both French and English.

Like other books in the Approaches series, this one is divided into two parts. The first part, “Materials,” reviews French and English editions of the Essays and lists helpful reference works for students and teachers. The first two essays in part 2, “Approaches,” discuss effective ways of presenting background information on Montaigne and the Renaissance. Subsequent essays outline general, interdisciplinary, and contemporary critical approaches to the text: for example, Montaigne’s Essays and political philosophy; the ethics of the author; the book’s use of plastic arts, of other texts, of metaphors; the sociological significance of the language; “deconstructive moments” in the Essays; gender; a psychoanalytic interpretation of “Of Friendship.” The volume concludes with an in-depth look at how five of Montaigne’s essays have been taught in various undergraduate courses and contexts.