French Detective Fiction - FR638

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
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5 15 (7.5) DR LE O'Meara


Students registering for this module will need to have proficiency in the target language at level B1/B2, as the module is taught partly in the target language


This module is not available as a wild module



Detective fiction is an extremely popular genre whose basic template can give rise to a multitude of approaches, settings, plots and values. This course is designed to give students an overview of the tradition of French crime fiction as it has evolved from the mid-19th century to the early 21st century. Short crime fiction, full crime novels, and film will be analysed. Close attention will be paid to generic conventions, and how they alter over time. Questions of social order and disorder will be central to our enquiry. We will also study the extent to which detective novels mount a critique of contemporary society. All texts are studied in French and teaching is partly in English, partly in French.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One weekly lecture (one hour), and one weekly seminar (one hour) for 10 weeks.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading:

Primary texts (any edition):

POE, E.A., translated by BAUDELAIRE, C. [1856] Excerpts from Histoires extraordinaires,
LEROUX, G. [1907] Le Mystère de la Chambre jaune [any edition]
PODALYDES, B. [2003] Le Mystère de la Chambre jaune [film]
BOILEAU-NARCEJAC [1952] Celle qui n'était plus [any edition]
CLOUZOT, H-G. [1955] Les Diaboliques [film]
DAENINCKX, D. [1984] Meurtres pour mémoire [any edition]
VARGAS, F. [2002] Salut et liberté [any edition]

Secondary texts (any edition):

TODOROV, T. [1980] 'Typologie du roman policier' in Poétique de la prose. Paris : Seuil.
GORRARA, C. [2003] The Roman Noir in Post-War French Culture: Dark Fictions. Oxford: Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the module will be able to:

11.1 demonstrate knowledge and understanding of French detective writing and the development of this genre from the 19th century onwards;
11.2 demonstrate analytical and critical skills for the study of structure, prose technique, cinema, and the rules of genre and be able to critically evaluate the appropriateness or otherwise of these skills when it comes to approaching and perhaps resolving questions within the subject;
11.3 demonstrate their skills in close reading and evaluation of literary texts and of film and be able to transfer and apply these skills in various contexts;
11.4 participate in discussion (in French), make their own contributions to the discussion and listen to and respect the contributions of others;
11.5 demonstrate an improved ability to communicate effectively in French and in English;
11.6 demonstrate improved reading speed in French.

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