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FR231 - Modern Masterpieces

Module Code: FR231
Module Name: Modern Masterpieces
Module Coordinator: Dr Susannah Wilson
Term 2
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

This module (re)introduces students to some of the most important prose works of the French literary canon of the first half of the twentieth century. Keeping in mind that labels such as “the canon” and “modernity” are fluid, we will pay special attention to where the texts appear to break with literary or cultural norms of the time.

We will investigate how these authors use form, style, and other literary techniques to convey meaning as well as what sorts of philosophical, social, or political factors may have motivated them. In other words, we will approach these texts in two different manners. At times, you will be asked to perform close readings of literary works where meaning is found within the text itself. At others, you will carry out contextual research which places the texts in their broader cultural significance.

Set texts:

Gide, L'Immoraliste (1902)

Proust, Combray (the first section of Du côté de chez Swann, 1913)

Colette, Chéri (1920)

Camus, La Peste (1947)

You will need to purchase the Folio (Gallimard) editions of these texts. These are all available in the library, or to buy online. There are always plenty of second hand versions of these editions in circulation.


In this module, you will continue your study of French language and culture as well as developing your mastery of textual analysis and written organization of ideas. You will leave this class having attained a competence in critical analysis that is appropriate to a second-year Modern Languages student. By the end of term, you will have gained a better understanding of the culture of the early twentieth century and, more generally, will have improved your ability to construct valid arguments when speaking and writing about literature.

Assessment Method:

2,000 and 2,500 word essay (50%)
1-hour examination (50%)