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Unit information: Around Cubism in 2021/22

Unit name Around Cubism
Unit code FREN30096
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Harrow
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This interdisciplinary unit explores representations of city space, travel, objects, mechanicity, otherness, subjectivity, iconoclasm, the body, and new media before and during the First World War, a period characterized by transnational experimentalism in the arts. We focus on how writers (Jarry, Apollinaire, Cendrars), composers and choreographers (Stravinsky, Diaghilev), and visual artists (Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Sonia Delaunay, Robert Delaunay) constructed distinctive visions of the everyday, or, indeed, resisted material modernity in order to explore the autonomous space of the text or the canvas, the dance or the musical score. The works studied explore themes of subjectivity, exile, displacement, migration, technology, and intercultural values and practice through aesthetics of subversion. This unit aims to provide students with the historical background and critical vocabulary necessary to make an informed reading of selected early-twentieth-century texts in French, and assess critically related visual material. Students will develop practices for 'reading' both textual and visual material, and gain an understanding of the problems associated with the act of reading across genres (theatre, poetry, art writing) and across media (painting, photography, dance, music).


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. The content matter will include the following: experimental literature; innovative visual culture; social, cultural or political history (for the purposes of contextualisation); language study; cultural studies; and the interart study of music and dance.
  • To facilitate students' engagement with a body of critical literature, including secondary sources, texts, including non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Many of these sources will be in French and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills consolidating their knowledge-base and confidence in the use of the foreign language.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level 5.
  • To empower students to work together collaboratively on the creation of a digital curation of relevant visual culture, thus deepening and diversifying intellectual and practical skills and participating in activities which map to professional contexts, both directly and indirectly.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate or further study in a relevant field, and to equip them with skills of appraisal and evaluation which will empower them fr their future work experience.
  • To enhance students’ transferable skills through close analysis and discussion of image and text, and sound and visual media.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate sophisticated knowledge of experimentalism in a range of arts during the Cubist period;
  2. exercise critical interpretive skills of ‘reading’ across genres and media;
  3. evaluate, analyse and synthesize with a sophistication appropriate to the level a range of artistic genres and media and theory and criticism relating to them;
  4. present and defend their analyses and arguments orally and in writing with a complexity and register appropriate to this level of study;
  5. collaborate with other student group members in the effective design and creation of a digital mini-exhibition curation.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Information

1 x timed assessment (60%), testing ILOs 1-4.

1 x assessed group project (40%), testing ILOs 1-5.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. FREN30096).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.