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Unit information: Propaganda, Politics, and the Islamic Other: Literary Responses to the Crusades in 2021/22

Unit name Propaganda, Politics, and the Islamic Other: Literary Responses to the Crusades
Unit code FREN30117
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Marianne Ailes
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

What were the crusades? How are they represented in literature in French? How is the Islamic Other presented in text and image? These are the questions addressed in this unit, which is taught through an interdisciplinary lens. Students examine (in translation) early accounts of the calling of the First Crusade and study examples of both fictional and non-fictional French-language texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. French was at the time a transnational language and these texts mostly come from France or England, but there are also opportunities to expand to Occitan texts. The study of the depiction of the religious and/or racial Other is complemented by a consideration of the representation of the Saracen in visual culture. The narrative texts studied deal with crusading in the Holy Land and the nearer threat of Islamic Spain, while the lyric poetry explores the emotional impact of crusading. The study of the potential of some texts to serve as propaganda is explored and dissenting voices also heard.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. This will combine literature, history, and image analysis.
  • To enable students to develop a more nuanced understanding of religious struggles through an understanding of a specific historical period To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature and manuscript material relating to the medieval crusades
  • To develop students’ ability to analyse both written texts and images and to engage critically with secondary reading
  • To develop students’ presentation skills in both oral and written presentation
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in Medieval Studies or comparative literature

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a significant cultural and historical aspect of French studies;
  2. demonstrate advanced skills in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  3. evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, in both French and English, at an advanced level;
  4. respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style, in both writing and orally, with a complexity and at a standard appropriate to level H.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

1 x 4000-word essay (75%);

1 X 10 minute presentation (25%)

Both assessments test ILOs 1-4.


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. FREN30117).

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.