Skip to main content

Unit information: Modern French Narrative 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 Modern French Narrative
Unit code FREN20039
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Stephens
Open unit status Not open

FREN10001 or equivalent standard in French language



School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines some of the key themes of modern and contemporary French prose fiction through the study of five narratives. It begins by examining the dynamics of the early twentieth-century novel, through the study of Thérèse Desqueyroux (1927), paying particular attention to issues concerning narrative voice, perspective, and authority, concentrating on the often problematic but productive investigation of such issues. It then considers political commitment in prose fiction in the mid-twentieth century in Le Sang des autres (1945) before examining the interaction of prose narrative and film, memory and the treatment of time, in Marguerite Duras's and Alain Resnais's Hiroshima mon amour. We will then examine the experimental crime fiction of Sébastien Japrisot in L’Eté meurtrier (1977), studying points of continuity between popular fiction and 'high brow' culture. The unit concludes with a look at how current French fiction promotes 'trash literature', simultaneously criticising and colluding with the erotic and commercial tastes of consumerist culture through the study of Plateforme (2001).


  • 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:

  • be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching Information

Normally one lecture hour and one seminar hour per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours), often with student presentations. In units with a smaller number of students the lecture hour may be replaced by a second seminar or a workshop. Units involving film may require students to view films outside the timetabled contact hours.

Assessment Information

A written assignment of 2000 words and a two hour exam (50% each)

Reading and References

  • François Mauriac, Thérèse Desqueyroux (Livre de Poche)Simone de Beauvoir, Le Sang des autres (Folio)
  • Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour (Folio – screenplay) / Alain Resnais (dir.), Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
  • Japrisot, L'Eté meurtrier (Folio policier)
  • Michel Houellebecq, Plateforme (J’ai lu)