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Unit information: Around Cubism in 2015/16

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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, and the new media before and during the First World War, a period characterized by 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. 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) 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 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 I.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in a relevant field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • will have advanced skills 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 an advanced level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including postgraduate study.

Teaching Information

Two seminar hours per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours)

Assessment Information

One 3000-word essay plus 3-hour exam (33%/ 67%)

Reading and References

  • Jarry, Ubu roi
  • Apollinaire, Les Peintres cubistes
  • Apollinaire, Calligrammes
  • Cendrars, Du monde entier
  • Visual material, including BBC film Riot at the Rite