Skip to main content

Unit information: War Stories: Representation and Memory of Conflict in France since World War One in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name War Stories: Representation and Memory of Conflict in France since World War One
Unit code FREN30041
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Hurcombe
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

War Stories looks at the way the three major conflicts in which France was involved in the twentieth century (both world wars and the Algerian War of Independence) are portrayed in French literature and film. The unit is divided into two interconnected parts. The first examines contemporaneous representations of each conflict, considering how individual works participate in key debates of the time, but also how they articulate verbally or visually the experience of war. The second part is concerned with how these three conflicts have been remembered since the end of hostilities, discussing a range of issues associated with trauma and memory and examining how individual works have contributed to the ‘memory wars’ surrounding each conflict. Areas covered in the first part may include the infantryman’s perspective of World War One; clandestine narratives of Resistance; and issues of political engagement and terrorism in relation to the Algerian war. The second part will focus on matters such as cinematic expressions of pacifism; the memory of collaboration and state violence in the late twentieth century; and contemporary French representations of the Holocaust and its legacy. The unit aims to

  1. Develop students’ knowledge of issues relating to the representation of war in film and literature;
  2. Refine students’ knowledge of the political, social and cultural impact of the three conflicts;
  3. Expand their understanding of the interaction of the social, the political and the cultural in a range of representations of these;
  4. Develop students’ understanding of cultural memory and the part played by film and literature in establishing and challenging existing narratives and myths.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  1. be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  2. will have advanced skills in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  3. be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at an advanced level;
  4. be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of tutor- and student-led seminars (1 x 2hr slot weekly across 11 weeks).

Additional material will be made available to students via Blackboard.

Assessment Information

2-hour written exam (50%) testing ILOs 1-4; 3000 word essay (50%) testing ILOs 1-4;

Formative: student presentation (delivered in seminar) testing ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Dorgelès, Roland, Les Croix de bois (1919)

Triolet, Elsa, Le premier accroc coûte 200 francs (1945)

Godard, Jean-Luc (dir), Le petit soldat (1963)

Renoir, Jean (dir), La grande illusion (1937)

Daeninckx, Didier, Meurtres pour mémoire (1984)

Modiano, Patrick, Dora Bruder (2000)