Texts and Contexts 1 - FREN3370

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Larry Duffy checkmark-circle


This module, which covers the period from the 17th century to the First World War, examines through the study of relevant literary and other texts some of the major historical, cultural, social, political and literary movements of France and its colonies during this era. Close textual analysis will be combined with study of the texts' various contexts: the module encourages students to analyse cultural artefacts in connection with the historical, social and cultural contexts and discourses within which they were created. The choice of primary materials covers a wide variety of genres: letters, drama, fiction, political texts, travel writing. Students will learn to adopt critical strategies to analyse all of these sources, and to reflect on moments of major historical and cultural significance in the development of modern France. Events such as the French Revolution, the Paris Commune and the Dreyfus Affair will be analysed as they are represented in the chosen primary texts. Students will be encouraged to consider questions of national and other forms of identity in France and in the Francophone world more generally as they are mediated through cultural production, thinking through the stereotypes often used to characterise nations, their citizens/subjects and their history.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

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

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Colette (1975) [1910]. La Vagabonde. Paris: Poche; (1980) The Vagabond. London: Penguin.
Daudet, Alphonse (2010) [1872]. Tartarin de Tarascon. Paris: Flammarion; (2015) Tartarin of Tarascon. CreateSpace.
Flaubert, G. (2013) [1869]. L'Éducation sentimentale. Paris: Flammarion ; (2008) A Sentimental Education. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rousseau, J.J. (2009) [1782-89]. Les Confessions. Paris: Gallimard ; (2008) Confessions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sévigné, Madame de (1988) [1670-71]. Lettres choisies. Paris: Gallimard ; (2003) Selected Letters. London: Penguin.
Stendhal, pseud. Beyle, H. (2013) [1831]. Le Rouge et le noir. Paris: Flammarion; (2009) The Red and the Black. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zola, Emile (2003) [1898]. J'Accuse ! et autres textes sur l'affaire Dreyfus. Paris: Librio ; (1998) The Dreyfus Affair : "J'Accuse!" and Other Writings by Zola. Yale University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate an appreciation of a range of cultural products originating in France and the French-speaking world from the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries (letters, plays, novels, political documents, travel writing);
Demonstrate analytical skills for the study of literary texts in a variety of genres, and for linking cultural products to their social, historical and political contexts;
Demonstrate skills relating to close reading and evaluation of literary texts and of images;
Plan and write an essay analysing cultural, historical and political questions as they are articulated in literary and cultural artefacts
Participate in discussion about cultural production and its contexts, make their own contributions to the discussion and listen to and respect the contributions of others;
Demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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