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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

FREN2340 Twentieth and Twenty-First Century French Fiction

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Prof David Platten

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of Level 1 BA French programmes

Module replaces

FREN2250 The 20th Century French Novel

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The French novel since the 1960s is characterised by a proliferation of styles and an expanding readership. We have seen fascinating developments in the art of storytelling, new ideas about society and politics, the continuing ascendancy of crime fiction, crises about French identity and the impact of the new technologies. This module aims to introduce and explore some of the major trends of the period, in terms of narrative techniques, themes and contexts. Narrative voices and devices, and the themes of memory, identity, social conflict, revenge and desire, will be explored and contextualized in the following four novels: Jorge Semprun's Le Grand Voyage (1963), one of the first novels to address the experience of deportation and the Nazi concentration camps; Jean-Patrick Manchette's Fatale (1977), a crime novel featuring a female assassin under contract to wipe out the bourgeoisie in a provincial town; Annie Ernaux's La Place (1983), a portrait of the author's father, a self-portrait and a critique of social class and values in modern France; and Virginie Despentes's latest novel Apocalypse Bébé (2010), featuring social satire, lesbian romance and road-book adventure.


- To develop and nurture students' abilities to read critically a selection of modern and contemporary prose narratives written in the French language;
- To enhance students' appreciation of the content and style of these novels, by using a range of diverse teaching techniques;
- To enable students to assess the impact of these works on the culture and society of the period;
- To develop students' research skills through their identification and use of secondary sources to support original arguments or critical positions on the set texts;
- To promote a participative approach to the study of literature, highlighting the benefits of guided autonomous learning;
- To introduce students to concepts of literary reception and especially how the literary press shapes our readings of fiction;
- To provide opportunities for students to broaden their knowledge of a given writer through the close study of other parts of the oeuvre.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students
- will be able to read critically and with more confidence prose narratives written in French;
- will have demonstrated their ability to evaluate a text with reference to how aspects of language and rhetoric inflect meaning;
- will have shown an enhanced understanding of how social and cultural contexts inform our understanding of fictional works;
- will have an enhanced understanding of literary reception and the roles of the press and the critic in determining meaning;
- will have developed more advanced research skills in relation to literary study
- will have a better appreciation of how teamwork and peer collaboration enhance independent study
- will have had the opportunity to apply their research skills and critical faculties via the conception and production of an independent research project based on primary sources derived from the oeuvre of a contemporary writer.

Skills outcomes
The module will help students to develop the following subject-specific skills:
- the ability to read, analyse and discuss important works of French literature in French
- improved French vocabulary and cultural awareness
- an understanding of the profound changes affecting French society since the 1960s.


Set Texts

Annie Ernaux, La Place (1983) (Larousse, Folioplus, 2006)
Jean-Patrick Manchette, Fatale (1977) (Gallimard, Folio policier, 1999)
Jorge Semprun, Le Grand Voyage (1963) (Gallimard, Folio, 1972)
Virginie Despentes, Apocalypse Bébé (2010) (LGF, 2012)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment11.001.00
Group learning33.004.00
Independent online learning hours30.00
Private study hours136.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for lectures and seminars: reading the primary texts, reading secondary sources, both material and online.
Preparation for seminar presentations.
Preparation for formative course essay.
Exam revision
Preparation for Group Presentation
Preparation for extended course essay/independent research project.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Performance in seminars, including individual and group presentations.
Short practice essay in Semester 1.
Exam revision sessions (Semester 1)
Individual and collective feedback post mid-session examination (Semester 2)
Individual 'essay preparation' consultations (Semester 2).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words45.00
PresentationOral presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)55.00

The assessed essay will offer students three options: - a traditional essay comparing and contrasting the two Semester 2 texts; - an essay on two or more works by the author of the second Semester 2 set text - a research-based project on the second text, looking at aspects of reception, reading habits, internet discussion groups, magazines of popular culture, and readings and performances by the author.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins45.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)45.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/04/2018


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