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Unit information: French Cinema: Aesthetics, Genres and Histories in 2015/16

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Unit name French Cinema: Aesthetics, Genres and Histories
Unit code FREN20020
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Nick Rees-Roberts
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will provide a thorough introductory survey of the history of French cinema from the early silent period to contemporary digital video production, through the classical era, the 1960s new wave, post-new wave realism, the 1980s ‘cinéma du look’ and on to issues and debates within contemporary film. Whilst not aiming to be comprehensive, the course will nevertheless provide a broad overview of key film moments and movements, the avant-garde, art cinema and auteurs, alongside mainstream popular stardom and genres such as heritage films, comedies, thrillers and action movies. The course will also provide students with foundational knowledge of French film theory and criticism, together with background information on the socio-political context of film production in France.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to second year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students' engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level C.
  • Some options may prepare students for the experience of the Year Abroad.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will have:

1. Knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;

2.Be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;

3. Evaluated and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;

4. Responded to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;

5. Transferred these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching Information

1 plenary hour (Lecture)

2 parallel seminar groups

Assessment Information

One written assignment of 2500 words (75%) and 1500-2000 word sequence analysis(25%) This assessment is testing ILO's 1-5

Reading and References

  • Phil Powrie and Keith Reader, French Cinema: A Student's Guide, Arnold Press: London, 2002.
  • Susan Hayward, French National Cinema, (second edition), Routledge: London, 2005.
  • Susan Hayward and Ginette Vincendeau (eds.), French Film: Texts and Contexts, Routledge: London, 1990.