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Approaches to Reading in English and French

Module Code: FR105
Module Name: Approaches to Reading in English and French
Module Credits: 30

In this module you will build on your previous experience of textual analysis to develop advanced skills in close reading and criticism, learning the appropriate critical vocabulary and practising various approaches and methods. You will translate French literary texts into English and analyse the original texts, giving some thought to the particular linguistic and cultural issues arising in accommodating an Anglophone readership of a French source text. You will also learn effective techniques of comparative literary analysis by examining paired French and English works.

In order to maintain a coherent and holistic approach, the textual focus is on short poems which can be examined in their entirety and in depth during a single session, allowing you to develop and hone skills in ‘deep’ reading that you can usefully apply to longer works. You will develop key skills and strategies — such as reading alertly, searching for meaning(s), selecting and deploying evidence to support your interpretations, examining the relation between form and content — that can be applied to other, longer and sometimes very different works — verse or prose; literary, popular, theoretical or technical — in other modules and beyond the learning environment.

The focus on poems also means you can investigate poetry as a significant means of expressing ideas and emotions, and its importance within French and English literature from the fourteenth century to the present, considering how forms develop and alter and how French poetry influences English literature, as well as learning about key literary schools and movements.

Poetry has been a vital means of expressing and sharing experiences and emotions for thousands of years, and it continues to be a vibrant part of popular culture, both written and oral. This module offers a rare opportunity to explore some of the defining features of poetry, including

  • the relation of poetry to song and music,
  • the use and construction of set forms, and
  • the impulse towards free verse (vers libre)
and to consider why poetry remains popular with poets and readers. Why would an author choose to write within the constraints of verse instead of prose? What does formal verse bring — to the poet and to the audience — that prose does not? What is the effect of choosing one poetic form over another? How hard must words work if the form is strictly limited? What is free verse freeing itself from?


Assessment

One three-hour examination