French Detective Fiction - FREN6380

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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 will be studied in French. Tuition is given partly in English and partly in French.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay (2,000 words) – 40%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
Examination (2 Hours) – 40%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:

Boileau-Narcejac. [1952] (2010). Celle qui n'était plus. Paris: Folio
Clouzot, H-G. (1955). Les Diaboliques [Film]. Filmsonor
Daeninckx, D. [1984] (2010). Meurtres pour mémoire. Paris: Folio
Leroux, G. [1907] (2014). Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune. Paris: J'ai Lu
Podalydes, B. (2003). Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune. [Film]. Canal+
Poe, E.A., translated by Baudelaire, C. [1856] (2004). Excerpts from Histoires Extraordinaires. Paris: Folio
Vargas, F. [2002]. Salut et liberté. Paris: J’ai Lu

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of French detective writing and the development of this genre from the 19th century onwards;
- 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;
- Demonstrate assured and accurate skills in close reading and evaluation of literary texts and of film, and be able to transfer and apply these skills in various contexts;
- Participate in discussion (in French), make their own contributions to the discussion, and listen to and respect the contributions of others;
- Demonstrate an improved ability to communicate effectively in French and in English;
- Demonstrate their ability to read French quickly, and to listen and understand spoken French accurately.


  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.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.