Texts and Contexts 2 - FR338

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
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4 15 (7.5) DR L Duffy







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’ 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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay (1,500 words) – 40%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
Examination (2 hours) – 40%

Indicative reading

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

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- 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);
- 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 their 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.

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