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FR245 - In the Family Way: Birth Sex & Death in French 17thc Culture & Text

  • Module code: FR245
  • Module name: In the Family Way: Birth Sex & Death in French 17thc Culture & Text
  • Department: French Studies
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

"Well before any notion of the human gene, seventeenth-century French society theorized and fantasized about the relationship of the human person to his / her environment, and about the role of blood ties. This module will explore a range of texts that reveal how this society articulated moral, ethical, social and political concerns emerging from their conceptions, real and symbolic, of how the human life cycle and the notion of family operated. These include medical questions (childbirth, the issue of abortion); anxieties over power at the level of family and state (sibling and generational rivalry, the role of gender); and fantasies of the journey from innocence to sexual maturity (fairy tales and the unconscious). Our investigation of the impact of the notion of family will take place across a number of genres: first-person accounts (the letters of the aristocrat Mme de Sévigné; the testimonies of the midwife Louise Bourgeois); theatre (the tragedies of Corneille and Racine); prose narrative (Perrault's fairy tales - written for adult salon-goers or for children?) "

Principal learning outcomes

This module will focus attention upon the acquisition of research and presentational skills using library, teaching grid and learning grid resources. It will culminate in a student-led symposium where you will get the chance to showcase your ideas to your colleagues.

Timetabled teaching activities

Teaching will be by a combination of lecture and seminar; there will be one lecture and one seminar per week.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: FR245-15)
C (Assessed/examined work) Assessed Course Work 50%
Examination - Main Summer Exam Period (weeks 4-9) 50%
Assessed Course Work 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Undergraduate French with Sociology (R1L3) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate French Studies with Portuguese (R1R5) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Italian and European Literature (RQ32) - Year 3