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Unit information: Paris 1857-1897 in 2015/16

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Unit name Paris 1857-1897
Unit code FREN20041
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
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


The unit explores how writers (Baudelaire, Zola, Maupassant) and visual artists (Manet, Caillebotte, Monet, Pissarro) constructed distinctive visions of modern life following Haussmann's controversial redesign of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s. Focusing on the interrelated topics of individuality, work, leisure, gender, class, politics and urban space, we ask how modernity in its material, cultural and psychic effects translates as a style itself singularly modern - fluid, fractured, and multi-perspectival. This unit aims to provide students with the historical, political and theoretical background and critical vocabulary necessary to make an informed reading of selected later-nineteenth-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 (narrative, poetry) and across media (painting, photography).


  • 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 details

2 X 1hr slots weekly.

Assessment Details

A written assignment of 2000 words and a 2 hour examination (50% each)

Reading and References

Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal

Zola, Thérèse Raquin (and Carné film version)

Zola, Nana

Maupasssant, Bel-Ami

Extracts from Benjamin, The Arcades Project.