FR2GFLS-Global French Life-Stories

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: FR1L1 Beginners French Language or FR1L2 Intermediate French Language or FR1L3 Advanced French Language I
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Prof Julia Waters


Type of module:

Summary module description:

French is a global language, spoken by over 275 million people across the world. Modern-day metropolitan France is itself an increasingly diverse, multicultural space, shaped by waves of migration from across the globe. This module explores how diverse experiences of migration and mobility – social and geographic; internal and global - are represented in a range of short 20th-century, French-language life stories (autobiography, novels and films), all of which blur generic, geographic and linguistic boundaries.  


Through close analysis and comparison of a range of semi-autobiographical novels (and their film adaptations) by ‘French’ writers - from rural Normandy, colonial Indochina, Algeria, the French Antilles - the module explores the implications of writing in French and of defining oneself as ‘French’ in contexts of internal and global migration. The module, like the writers studied, seeks to answer the central question: what does it mean to be ‘French’ in an increasingly mobile, interconnected but unequal world?  The module also aims to deepen students’ understanding of literary genre and to develop their skills of literary and film analysis, by exploring the fluid boundaries between fiction and autobiography, ‘French’ and ‘francophone’, centre and periphery, source text and adaptation. While based primarily on close textual analysis of the set texts, the module will also consider their historical, geo-political and cultural contexts. Drawing on approaches from postcolonial thought, gender studies autobiography and literary analysis, the module will explore issues of individual and collective identity, language, class, gender, education, social and geographic mobility. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students who complete this module successfully will be able to:

  • analyse and compare a range of French and francophone fictional, autobiographical texts and film adaptations

  • demonstrate an awareness of broader theoretical, methodological and contextual issues

  • develop an informed understanding of the interrelation of issues of migration, language, literature and identity in global French-speaking contexts

  • situate the novels studied within their broader historical and theoretical contexts

  • develop their own critical responses to literary texts, autobiography and film

  • reflect on critical languages and practices

  • engage critically with ideas discussed in seminars

  • read and interpret literary and visual texts from different critical perspectives

Additional outcomes:

This module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and pair/ group presentation skills, as well as enabling students to develop their reading, analytical and interpretative skills in relation to literary and non-standard French. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. 

Outline content:

The module will consider: the history of French colonisation, decolonisation and post-colonial immigration; multicultural, postcolonial France; the role of language and literature in the construction of postcolonial identities; social and geographic mobility; diverse immigrant experiences; class, gender, education, family networks; individual, collective, national and global identities; generic mobility (novel, autobiography, film, récit). Primary texts to be studied may include: Annie Ernaux, La Place (1983); Marguerite Duras, L’Amant (1984); Azouz Begag, Le Gone du Chaâba (1986); Maryse Condé, Le Cœur à rire et à pleurer (1999). We shall also consider the film adaptations of L’Amant and Le Gone du Chaâba, as well as relevant secondary and theoretical material.

Global context:

Given France’s historical status as an imperial power, with former colonies and current DOMs across the world, the issues tackled in this module are profoundly global in reach and nature. The module examines the French nation and language in a historical and contemporary context that extends well beyond the limits of the Hexagon. It also considers the impact of inward migration on modern-day France’s demographic and socio-cultural make-up. Both primary texts and the theoretical works studied grapple with the quintessentially global dilemmas of postcolonial identity construction, linguistic and cultural hegemony, migration and mobility.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will be taught in Autumn and Spring terms, by means of weekly classes: a mix of lectures, group seminars, film viewings, and student presentations. Lectures will provide students with important contextual information and key concepts, an introduction to each of the writers studied, their works and main ideas, as well as comparative thematic and formal perspectives. The lecturer will also allot weekly assignments, to guide the students’ own study, and will provide advice on these. Although ample guidance will be provided, students will be expected to read the texts and view the films on their own, and to draw their own, informed comparisons and contrasts.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 10 10 2
Tutorials 5 5
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 25 25
    Exam revision/preparation 18
    Preparation for seminars 20 20
    Group study tasks 5 5
    Essay preparation 25 25
Total hours by term 90 90 20
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Class test administered by School 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will submit ONE essay or commentary of approximately 2000-2500 words (40%). The second assignment will be a 2-hour, 2-question class test, comprising ONE critical commentary and

ONE comparative essay (60%) in Summer Term

  • Essay 1 (40%), submitted in first week of Spring term

  • 2-hour, 2-question class test, comprising ONE critical commentary and ONE comparative essay (60%) in Summer Term.

One piece of assessment worth no more than 50% of the module mark can be replaced by a report produced after an academic placement. The placement must be agreed in advance by the module convenor; the length of the report is to be equivalent to standard departmental practice for coursework. 

Formative assessment methods:

Students may be asked to prepare individual presentations as part of class discussion. These will not be formally assessed, but feedback and an indicative mark will be provided by the lecturer and the other students. Students will also have ample opportunity to practise commentary and essay-writing skills, and to prepare for the class test, in assignments set for discussion and presentation in class.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    Resubmission of coursework (in the event of failure in this module and in Part 2 as a whole) by 1.00 pm on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed, the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Required text books: approximately £35 (though many second-hand copies are available more cheaply)

    Last updated: 1 July 2019


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