The Art of Memory: Childhood in Modern French Literature - FREN6200

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


It is commonly accepted that identity or a sense of self is constructed by and through narrative – the stories we tell each other and ourselves about our lives. This module explores the complex relationships that exist between memory, nostalgia, writing and identity in a range of twentieth-century autobiographical and first- and third-person fictional works in French. These texts foreground issues of childhood, memory, history, and trauma in the construction of identity.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Critical Writing Exercise (500 words) – 20%
Essay (2,400 words) – 60%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Ernaux, A. (2007). La Place. Paris: Gallimard.
Germain, S. (2001). L'Enfant Méduse. Paris: Gallimard.
Kofman, S. (2005). Rue Ordener, rue Labat. Paris: Galilée.
Perec, G. (2001). W ou le souvenir d'enfance. Paris: Denoël.
Proust, M. (2001) Combray. In: Du côté de chez Swann. Paris: Gallimard.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Explore in depth a range of twentieth-century literary works in French that reflect on the nature of childhood, memory, and memories of childhood;
Reflect critically on the role and significance of memory and childhood in a variety of literary genres;
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the narratological import of the relationship between the fictional and the autobiographical;
Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the ways in which memory can bear upon literary form;
Demonstrate confident analytical skills for the study of narrative technique and structure;
Demonstrate their ability to read in French.


  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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