Twentieth Century France in Crisis - FR310

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR M Poizat-Amar







This module explores how four major 'crises' in twentieth-century France are reflected in cinema: World War I, World War II, the Algerian crisis, and the events of May 1968. Some films are almost contemporary with events, whereas others were made decades later. This module will explore themes such as realistic depiction, socio political agendas, nationalist ideologies and the politicisation of (collective and individual) memory.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay (1,800 words) – 60%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
Critical Writing Exercise (500 words) – 20%

Indicative reading

McMillan, J.F. (1992). Twentieth-Century France: Politics and Society 1898-1991. London: Hodder/Arnold.
Sowerwine, C. (2009). Culture, Society, and the Making of the Republic. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Films (in French with English subtitles):

La Grande Illusion. (1937) Film. Directed by Jean Renoir. [DVD] France: StudioCanal.
La Vie et rien d'autre. (1989) Film. Directed by Bertrand Tavernier. [DVD] France: KinoVideo.
Le Dernier Métro. (1980) Film. Directed by François Truffaut. [DVD] France: Gaumont.
Au-revoir les enfants. (1987) Film. Directed by Louis Malle. [DVD] France: MK2 Diffusion.
La Bataille d'Alger. (1966) Film. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. [DVD] Italie/Algérie: Rialto Pictures.
Milou en mai. (1990) Film. Directed by Louis Malle. [DVD] France: Pyramide Distribution.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Show an appreciation of a range of films inspired by the four crises (World War I (1914-18), World War II (1939-45), the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62) and the Student Protests of 1968);
- Demonstrate familiarity with the cultural and historical background of the works studied, and thereby assess the links between events and the films;
- Demonstrate an ability to analyse and describe films (in particular, characters and events);
- Demonstrate their critical understanding of historical milestones in contemporary France and their cinematic representation;
- Show an appreciation of cultural diversity in contemporary political debates in France.

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