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FR120 Summative Assessment

For general information about all first-year exam procedures, please go to First-Year Examinations

The module as a whole will be examined by two 1200-1500 word essays (counting for 40%) and a 2 hour examination (counting for 60%). This is made up as follows:
  •  Essay 1: titles drawn from term 1 material
  • Essay 2 : titles drawn from end of term 1 & term 2 material
  • Exam : mock exam paper.(PDF Document) Dedicated revisions sessions at the beginning of term 3 will take you through how to approach this paper. Please see the Defining France Exam page for more detailed information.


Essay Titles 2015-16

Choose ONE of the following questions. For instructions about presentation, word length and so on, please continue to scroll down the page.

Term 1
  1. How do medieval women writers represent and construct authority in their texts? Discuss with reference to both Marie de France’s Prologue to the Lais and Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Cité des dames.
  2. Examine the relationship between the oral and the written in Marie de France’s Lais, with particular reference to ‘Le rossignol’.
  3. Discuss the relationship between the book and the city in the Livre de la Cité des dames.
  4. To what extent and in what ways is female authorship made a feature of the medieval texts by women you have studied? Discuss with reference either to Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Cité des dames or Marie de France’s ‘Le rossignol’.
  5. To what extent and in what ways does Rabelais' Gargantua seek to challenge the reading habits of its readers?
  6. According to Barbara Bowen, Rabelais, like Erasmus, was ‘genuinely religious, outraged by many attitudes, beliefs and practices of Catholicism […] and able to express serious religious view humorously.’ Discuss this statement with reference to Gargantua.
  7. ‘For Rabelais, language is power: he champions its possibilities and is acutely aware of its potentially damaging nature.’ Discuss this statement with reference to Gargantua.
  8. To what extent should Rabelais’ Gargantua be thought of as a text about heroism?
  9. To what extent should Rabelais' Gargantua be thought of as a courtly text?
  10. In her poetry, Labé 'recovers the lament as a woman’s art and appropriates its power' (Phyllis R. Brown). Discuss.
  11. Some scholars have called Labé an early feminist, while others, such as Mireille Huchon, have claimed that she did not exist at all. Discuss your opinion on this controversy, supporting your argument with reference to Labé’s Sonnets and Élégies. If you wish, you may also compare her treatment of gender with that of another female author on the module, such as Christine de Pizan or Marie de France.
  12. Examine the tensions between EITHER a) Desire and Restraint OR b) Memory and Regret in Labé’s Sonnets and Élégies.
  13. How does Labé shape her audience in the Sonnets, the Élégies, and in her dedicatory letter to Clémence de Bourges?
Term 2
  1. How does Racine exploit the rules and conventions of French neo-Classical theatre in Phèdre?
  2. ‘The tragedy of Phèdre is the drama of the divided self, the tragedy of beings whose existence is torn apart by the conflicting demands of unconscious desire and guilt’ (GREENBERG, adapted). Discuss this assertion in the light of your reading of Racine’s play.
  3. 'The universe of Phèdre is a universe of divine tyranny.' Discuss this assertion in the light of your reading of Racine's play.
  4. ‘To enjoy Tartuffe it is important to know that to Molière’s contemporaries every aspect of religion was an absorbing topic, but that one did not write about it in a comedy' (HALL). To what extent does Tartuffe push the boundaries of comedy?
  5. To what extent is Tartuffe a microcosm of contemporary seventeenth-century society?
  6. What is the relationship between language, actions, and hypocrisy in Tartuffe?
  7. Examine the dramatization of the judiciary in J’attends le procès de Louis XVI and J’attends le process de Marie-Antoinette.
  8. Analyse the interplay between official and unofficial discourse in J’attends le procès de Louis XVI and J’attends le process de Marie-Antoinette.
  9. Discuss the combination of fact and fiction in J’attends le procès de Louis XVI and J’attends le process de Marie-Antoinette.
  10. Analyse the use of symbolic imagery in prints of the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen.
  11. Discuss the themes of virtue and hypocrisy in Boule de Suif.
  12. In what ways, and to what extent, does Boule de Suif foreground the social divisions in C19th French society?
  13. Analyse the ways in which Maupassant both challenges and reinforces social and national stereotypes in Boule de Suif.
  14. Comment on the themes of loyalty and betrayal in Boule de Suif.
  15. ‘To what extent and in what ways is Flaubert's Légende a faithful retelling of a medieval story?’

Essay Submission deadlines:

Essay 1 (1200 - 1500 words): to be submitted on Tuesday 22nd December, 12 noon, via Tabula. To submit, please click HERE.

Essay 2 (1200 - 1500 words): to be submitted on Friday 29th April, 12 noon, via Tabula

For essays, please note:

  • These ranges are strict; that is, there is no variation at either end. These words include all footnotes and/or endnotes but exclude the bibliography/filmography, or similar. Staff may stop reading an assessment once the upper word limite has been met.
  • The requirements for submission of summative essays are set out here: First-Year E-Submission. Please read this page carefully.

Students are required to complete all parts of the assessment for this module (ie.both essays and the examination). An overall mark of 40% or better for the assessment as a whole must be obtained in order to pass the module; failure to do so will mean that the student is normally required to take a resit examination in the September session immediately following.

Late submission and extensions

  • Essays must be submitted by the set deadlines. Extensions will normally be granted only in exceptional cases and on compelling grounds, such as ill-health or severe personal circumstances. All information about the application for extensions can be found here: Extensions to Summative Essays.
  • Any essay submitted late without a formal extension being granted will be subject to a penalty of 5 marks per working day (or part of a working day) that the essay is late.


Non-submission of essays or Absence from the examination

  • Non-submission of an essay will normally result in a mark of zero for the piece of work concerned. Late submission without a formal extension will incur the penalties indicated above.
  • Absence from the examination (except on documented grounds of ill-health or compelling personal circumstances) will normally result in a mark of zero for the examined part of the module.


For the end -of-year examination, please note:

  • Term 3 Revision Seminars will be devoted to preparation for the examination