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FREN3024 Flaubert’s France

Module Overview

This unit examines the major works of Flaubert, one of nineteenth-century France's most important writers. It explores his representation and examination of cultural values, including sexual and racial politics.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• examine how the literary texts of a major 19th-c French novelist represent and elucidate the politics and ideology of the period, including the sexual and racial politics of France from 1830-1870; • explore how the issues in Flaubert’s works continue to be relevant to 21st-c debates about race, gender and power; • understand through detailed study of Flaubert’s language (and by comparison with film adaptations, visual arts and internet resources) how literary representation can express ideas and lived reality as well as aesthetic and cultural values.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the themes and generic innovations of the major works of Flaubert as a central 19th-c French and European writer;
  • key issues in France from 1830-1870 and how they continue to impact on contemporary ideas and geopolitics;
  • key aesthetic debates in 19th-c France;
  • how sex, race, creed and power are integral to cultural history and its specific representations in space and time;
  • various critical approaches to Flaubert’s works and their contexts
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • formulate, organise and develop your ideas in both oral and written form;
  • think critically (and self-critically) about a range of ideological issues through the engagement with, and proper use of others’ ideas;
  • evaluate and select from and a large body of material in order to produce a written or oral argument of some complexity within set timeframes;
  • undertake independent research on the basis of the many aspects of the taught module;
  • analyse the stylistic features of a given piece of writing.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply to the various topics a comparative method and detailed analysis; supporting argument with evidence from a range of resources;
  • use a range of appropriate critical perspectives and terminology;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • articulate a range of complex ideas about the interconnections of sex, race, creed and class, their representations and changing ideological values;
  • analyse literary texts for their cultural and aesthetic significance as well as for their stylistic features;
  • recognise the role of the past in understanding the present;
  • demonstrate a critical awareness of key cultural debates within 19th- and 21st-c contexts;
  • compare and contrast representations of 19th-c ideas drawn from a range of media;
  • Form your own ideas better by engaging with the works of a major writer and his critical community.

Syllabus

This course focuses on the major works of Flaubert as a particularly rich resource for understanding the ideological and aesthetic contexts of France from 1830-1870. Flaubert’s exploration and representation of taboo subjects, his fictional transgressions of the 19thc norms of sex, race, class or creed as well as accepted modes of literary representation, make his works deeply relevant to how to understand similar contemporary issues and debates (and their representations). Lectures will open up Flaubert’s texts in chronological order and set out questions for discussion in seminars, where close reading of passages from the texts will encourage reinvestigation of the wider themes and their treatment. Seminars will also take into account (i) secondary critical assessments of Flaubert’s works; (ii) similar representations of a topic in other media and (iii) students’ close readings of the set texts to develop independent and group research skills. By comparison with current takes on the same issues (and their cultural representations) what is transgressive and avant- garde in Flaubert’s works can then be assessed at the end of the course. This course focuses on the major works of Flaubert as a particularly rich resource for understanding the ideological and aesthetic contexts of France from 1830-1870. Flaubert’s exploration and representation of taboo subjects, his fictional transgressions of the 19thc norms of sex, race, class or creed as well as accepted modes of literary representation, make his works deeply relevant to how to understand similar contemporary issues and debates (and their representations). Lectures will open up Flaubert’s texts in chronological order and set out questions for discussion in seminars, where close reading of passages from the texts will encourage reinvestigation of the wider themes and their treatment. Seminars will also take into account (i) secondary critical assessments of Flaubert’s works; (ii) similar representations of a topic in other media and (iii) students’ close readings of the set texts to develop independent and group research skills. By comparison with current takes on the same issues (and their cultural representations) what is transgressive and avant- garde in Flaubert’s works can then be assessed at the end of the course.

Special Features

Guided analysis in the lectures of the primary and secondary texts and the ideas central to the course will provide a range of methodologies and critical approaches to be applied by students both in seminar discussion/presentations and in the assessed work for the course. Independent reading and thinking forms an integral part of the preparation for all elements of the course, but students can then expect to improve their skills of analysis, synthesis, close reading and sustaining of a cogent argument. Debating, negotiating and diplomatic skills will also be extended in seminar preparation and discussion in the light of studying Flaubert’s literary ways of saying difficult things.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Weekly lectures set the given text in its various cultural contexts to open up the questions and debates for class discussion; weekly seminars are student-led presentations (in pairs or groups) followed by group discussion in response to various set tasks which engage with these questions through close reading of specific passages from the set texts and from analysis of secondary critical resources. • Independent reading of the set texts and secondary critical materials in advance of the relevant lecture/seminar and consultation of other media as appropriate to fulfil the seminar tasks. • Preparation of written assignments by independent study, including use of library resources not referenced on the course materials, one-to-one consultation by arrangement with the course tutor to develop course-specific or generic skills. Learning activities include • Preparation to participate in weekly seminars. • Fulfilment of designated seminar presentation tasks in collaboration with other students. • Essay and/or dissertation writing. Innovative or special features of this module ? The use of other media (including the visual arts, film adaptations, newspaper articles internet sites) to develop comparative critical skills to evaluate representations of ideas in Flaubert’s texts. ? Engagement with complex contemporary cultural issues – gender, race, conflicting creeds – through the medium of 19th-c French literature and its cultural contexts.

TypeHours
Independent Study126
Teaching24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Girard, R (1972). La Violence et le sacré. 

Gustave Flaubert. Madame Bovary. 

Gustave Flaubert. L'Education sentimentale. 

Jones, C (1994). The Cambridge illustrated history of France. 

Porter, Laurence M (2001). A Gustave Flaubert Encyclopedia. 

Eagleton, T (1991). Ideology: an Introduction. 

Czyba, L (1983). Mythes et Idéologie de la Femme dans les Romans de Flaubert. 

Mendus S., and J. Rendall (eds.) (1988). Sexuality and Subordination: interdisciplinary studies of gender in the nineteenth century. 

Said, E (2003). Orientalism. 

Brombert, V (1966). The Novels of Flaubert,. 

Birkett J., and J. Kearns (eds.) (1997). A Guide to French Literature: from early modern to Postmodern. 

Orr, M (2000). Flaubert: Writing the Masculine. 

Gustave Flaubert. Trois Contes. 

Gustave Flaubert. Salammbô. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback ? Peer and tutor feedback on seminar presentations and seminar materials prepared. ? Discussion of essay and/or dissertation plans by arrangement with the course tutor.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Critical commentary  (2000 words) 40%
Essay  (3000 words) 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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