What is the people? Much of nineteenth-century literature is an effort to confront this urgent political question after the Revolution, and to give shape and voice to this amorphous new sovereign. At once ubiquitous and intangible, the people is an unsettling power that modern writing seeks to name, express, silence, or shape. This course examines some landmark novels (by Hugo, les Goncourt, Sand, and Zola) and social analysis (by reformers, hygienists, and intellectuals) at the crossroads between politics and aesthetics. Critical texts by Marx, Chevalier, Rancière, Foucault, T.J. Clark, Lefort, and Rosanvallon.