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Defining France: An Introduction to French History and Culture

Module Code: FR120
Module Name: Defining France: An Introduction to French History and Culture

Module Credits: 30

First lecture: Thursday 6th October, 10 - 11 am, room H0.02 (ground floor of Humanities building)

First seminars: Tuesday 11th October, groups to be arranged

Like any language, French is a changing, organic thing that reflects, and to some extent shapes, the cultural and social trends of the age in which it was produced. This module explores the nature and impact of that process in specific cultural and historical contexts. How is French used and thought about in the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages? What effect did the invention of the printing press have on the way in which French was used in cultural and political contexts? How was French used to express dissent and effect social change at the time of the French Revolution? And what kind of artistic and cultural legacies have older uses of French left us with in the 21st century? ‘Defining France’ will encourage you to think about language, culture and history in a dynamic way: you will consider how words and images are combined by writers to create maximum impact in spheres as diverse as politics, women’s rights and love lyrics; how emerging and controversial spaces such as theatres generate new ways of using French that are now considered ‘classic’; how story-telling is used to open France’s eyes to social change at the eve of the 20th century. You will be guided by a team of lecturers who are passionate about the materials they teach. No previous knowledge or study of French history is required: just bring your enthusiasm.


2 summative essays of 1200 - 1500 words
1 exam: 2 hours

Syllabus and primary reading list

The material for study this year, presented in the order in which it will be covered, can be found here. (PDF Document)

(This is the module syllabus. For guidance on introductory reading for French modules prior to your arrival, please see this page.)


Cathy Hampton

Link to the tutor's web page

Lecture I video: introductions

Module moodle page

(the main source of information on the module)