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States of the Nation: French Cinema and Society from 1995 to the present

Module Code: FR340
Module Name: States of the Nation: French Cinema and Society from 1995 to the present
Module Coordinator: Dr Mary Harrod
Term 2
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

  • This module offers a detailed overview of key trends in French filmmaking and society since the mid 1990s, from both a domestic and a transnational perspective. It examines cinema’s role in representing and negotiating a range of social issues, from France’s wealth divide to issues of identity politics linked to questions of (trans-/)national, ethnic, gendered and sexual identity or technological, eco-environmental and other social changes. It simultaneously explores a variety of current approaches to the study of French film, placing emphasis on industrial processes as well as critical and reception contexts, notably in relation to the concepts of arthouse and mainstream cinema. The aesthetics of French cinema will thus be analysed alongside the medium’s mediation of major recent socio-cultural developments.
  • Representative student feedback on the module since I began teaching it in 2014/15:

'The course leader's expertise is extremely high, which subsequently produces high-quality and engaging material. The pace is very clear and the use of film extracts helps to break up the lecture and solidify and exemplify new ideas and concepts.'

'What made this module stand out for me was its contemporary content, which we don't often have the opportunity to study.'

'Expertise great but also communicates it really well [...] I feel Mary is one of the most approachable tutors. Always replies promptly to emails. [...] Find transnationalism fascinating, like contemporariness aspect, so useful for understanding today's France.'

'Very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Good rapport with the group. Just wish we had more time!'

'Mary's teaching is among the best I have experienced at Warwick.'

  • All films for this module will be made available for viewing via the Transnational Resources Centre (as a digitised copy available for streaming on your own devices). The module will be of particular interest to students who took a French cinema module in their second year; but it is open to all students whether or not they have studied film previously.
  • Students are reminded that roughly four hours attendance per week are required for this module, including lecture, seminar, and roughly two hours of screenings.

Reading list

There are no core set texts as such for this module, other than the films to be viewed and set articles or chapters each week, but intending students will find the following reading useful:

  • Alistair Fox et al. 'Introduction: Contemporary French Cinema - Continuity and Change in a Global Context,' in Fox, Marie, Moine and Radner (eds.), A Companion to Contemporary French Cinema (Chichester: John Wiley, 2015). 
  • Phil Powrie (ed.), French Cinema in the 1990s: Continuity and Difference (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999).

If you have not studied film before, the following texts are also recommended overviews:

  • David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (6th edition, New York, Knopf, 1998).
  • AND/OR Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience (Boston, Bedford, 2004 edition). See especially a section in the latter on 'Writing a Film Essay' (pp. 474-80 and following examples).
  • Alistair Fox, Michel Marie, Raphaelle Moine & Hilary Radner, (eds), A Companion to Contemporary French Cinema, Chichester:John Wiley: 2014 (Introduction and browse).

Assessment Method:

1 x 3,000-3,5000-word essay (80%).

1 x 1,000-word review of a recently published book about contemporary French cinema (20%).

The first assessment for the module will develop analytical, visual and synthetic skills as well as subject knowledge. You will adapt this knowledge and these skills to a different kind of writing in your review. This second assessment will strongly encourage students to hone evaluative skills by reflecting critically on others' views and methods and in this sense to engage in original secondary research themselves. The module thus develops academic skills alongside transferable skills that may be applied outside academic contexts.