Skip to main content

Unit information: Fiction of the July Revolution: Romanticism and Realism in 2014/15

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 Fiction of the July Revolution: Romanticism and Realism
Unit code FREN30027
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Stephens
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The July Revolution of 1830 promised a new departure for France, ending the reactionary Bourbon Restoration with the constitutional monarchy of the ‘bourgeois king’, Louis-Philippe. But political and social uncertainty persisted, further enabling the flexible forms of the novel to appeal to writers who wanted to map and question their ever-changing society. 1830 marked the beginning of an extraordinary trend that produced some of France’s best-known and most influential fiction. Writers such as Victor Hugo, Stendhal, Balzac, George Sand, and Alexandre Dumas helped to legitimate the novel as the major literary genre of the modern age. This unit investigates how the modern novel developed from its sentimental origins towards a position of social relevance after 1830 that it had been previously denied. In particular, the apparently sudden shift from Romanticism to Realism will be examined as a necessarily reciprocal relationship that empowered writers and readers to engage with history.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to: (a) demonstrate their knowledge of developments in the French novel in a variety of ways: orally, for seminar presentations and discussion; and in writing, both through extended research for the coursework essay, and under timed conditions for the examination. (b) understand the relevance of the July Monarchy to French (and European) literary culture, and the socio-historical significance of the novel as a cultural product (c) sophisticate their understanding of the French language by engaging in detailed analysis of French prose fiction through both close reading and thematic approaches (d) make effective use of theoretical perspectives when analysing written material

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of tutor- and student-led seminars (1 x 2hr slot weekly across 11 weeks). A minimum of three novels and a maximum of five novels will be studied in any one academic session, depending on length (e.g. Dumas’s Les Trois Mousquetaires is over 600 pages long). Key seminar reading material, including links to online editions of the novels being studied, will be made available via Blackboard.

Assessment Information

2-hour written exam (67%), testing ILOs a, b and d in particular; 3000 word essay (33%), testing ILOs a-d; formative student presentation.

Reading and References

[The set novels may vary from year to year, but the following critical overviews remain key.]

Finch, Alison, French Literature: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Polity, 2010)

Hemmings, F.W.J., Culture and Society in France 1789-1848 (Leicester University Press, 1987)

Millet, Claude, Le Romantisme: du bouleversement des lettres dans la France postrévolutionnaire (Paris: Livre de Poche, 2010)

Petrey, Sandy, In The Court of the Pear King: French Culture and the Rise of Realism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005)

Prendergast, Christopher, The Order of Mimesis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)

Unwin, Timothy (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the French Novel: from 1800 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)