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The Story of Modern France

Module Code: FR121
Module Name: The Story of Modern France
Module Coordinators: Dr Cathy Hampton & Dr Philippe Le Goff
2 Term Module
Module Credits: 30

Module Description

  • What are the major landmarks (political, social, cultural) in the creation of modern France?
  • How should we understand modern French identity, and where do ideas about French and francophone identities come from?
  • How are national narratives created? Why are storytelling and mythmaking such powerful tools?
  • How has France's relationship with the francophone world developed and changed over time?
  • What artistic and expressive forms do France and the francophone world use to tell their stories? How effective are these?

These are just some of the questions we will explore on this introductory module. Examining primary texts from major periods and events in French and francophone history, the module will equip you with an understanding of the nature of modern France. It will also examine how different expressive forms can communicate ideas (both positive and critical) about nationhood and identity. Amongst other things, we'll look at protest posters from May '68, prints and pamphlets broadcasting the events of the French Revolution to the nation, a film challenging myths of Resistance heroism, a 16th-century essay examining the impact of early French encounters with the New World, and a semi-autobiographical Guadeloupian novel exploring the intersection of the experience of colonisation and questions of personal, familial and national identities in the second half of the 20th century.

The module will provide you with the foundation to study further aspects of French and francophone culture in the later stages of your degree.


1500 word essay (30%)
Seminar participation (10%)
Creative task and presentation (30%)
1.5 hour examination (30%)

Syllabus and reading list

The reading list for this module, presented in the order in which it will be covered, can be found here.  

If you would like to sample some taster material on the texts and topics set, please find some web links here.  


Dr Cathy Hampton

Dr Philippe Le Goff