Texts and Contexts 2 - FREN3380

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module, which covers the period from World War I to the present day, examines some of the major historical, cultural, social, political and literary movements of France and its former 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 discourses and contexts within which they were produced. The choice of primary materials covers a wide variety of genres: fiction, political texts, cultural criticism, popular song, film. 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 contemporary France. Events such as the Second World War, the formation of the 5th Republic, North African and South-East Asian decolonisation and contemporary debates about 'laïcité’ (the particular form of institutional secularism operative in France) will be analysed as they are represented in the chosen primary texts. Students will be encouraged to consider questions of identity – and their mediation through cultural production – in France and in the Francophone world more generally, thinking through the stereotypes often used to characterise nations, their citizens or colonial subjects, and their history.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay Plan (500 words) – 20%
Essay (2,000 words) – 60%
Screencast/Presentation – 20%

Reassessment method:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative List

Barthes, Roland (2007) [1956] Mythologies. Paris: Seuil ; (2009) Mythologies, trans. by Annette Lavers. London: Vintage.
Cantet, Laurent (2008) Entre les murs [film] ; The Class [film].
De Gaulle, Charles (1946-58). Selected speeches 1946-1958 ('le Discours de Bayeux' etc.) [available online in French and English at www.charlesdegaulle.org]
Gainsbourg, S., Brassens, G., Brel, J., Vian, B. [1950s and 1960s]. Selected chansons [available online]
Guène, Faïza (2004). Kiffe kiffe demain. (Paris: Poche) ; (2006) Just Like Tomorrow. London: Random House.
Sebbar, Leïla (ed.) (2001), Une enfance algérienne. Paris: Gallimard ; (2001) An Algerian Childhood. St Paul, MN: Ruminator.
St-Exupéry, Antoine de (1973) [1929]. Courrier Sud. Paris: Gallimard; (2000) Southern Mail/Night Flight. London: Penguin.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an appreciation of a range of cultural products in French from the 20th and 21st centuries (literary fiction, genre fiction, political documents, memoirs, film);
2. 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;
3. Demonstrate their skills relating to close reading and evaluation of literary texts and of images;
4. Plan and write an essay analysing cultural, historical and political questions as they are articulated in literary and cultural artefacts
5. 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;
6. Demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively;
2. Write cogent, well-constructed essays supported by textual evidence;
3. Reflect on their own learning, plan their use of time, and identify appropriate directions for further study;
4. Undertake independent research in the library collections and using appropriate academic databases online.
5. Present information orally in a structured and coherent manner


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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