The University of Southampton
Courses

FREN2021 Identities in Crisis: Post-war French Literature and Film

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to psychoanalytic theories of trauma and their relation to post-war film and literature in French. You will be asked to consider how writers and filmakers have sought to remember both national and personal traumas, and how they have attempted to represent the effects of these traumas on collective and individual identities. Some of the prescribed texts respond to mass crises (such as the Occupation or the Algerian War) that not only scarred individual lives but traumatised the national psyche, while others constitute more intimately personal narratives.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Familiarise you with theories of trauma and their relation to literary and film studies. ? Consider the ways in which writers and filmakers have responded both to mass traumas and personal crises, and to reflect upon the relationship between the two. ? Consider experiments in literary and cinematic form in relation to traumatic subject matter. ? Encourage you to think about the specificity of literary and cinematic texts, asking what distinguishes these texts from, for example, historical accounts or journalistic writing, and what particular possibilities and insights they may offer. ? Enable you to conduct close readings of literary and cinematic texts.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Theories of trauma and their relation to literature and film.
  • The centrality of themes of memory and identity in twentieth and twenty-first century writing and film
  • relationships between cultural and historical contexts in twentieth and twenty-first century France.
  • the question of literary specificity.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • manage independent learning and learning through team work;
  • explore a variety of learning resources, including the library and the internet;
  • construct a bibliography and produce accurate and consistent referencing in your written work;
  • organise relevant material in written and oral discussion in order to communicate clearly and effectively;
  • construct both concise and extended arguments using literary texts, close analysis and theoretical material.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • produce theoretically-informed essays on a variety of different texts;
  • evaluate different critical perspectives and use them to inform your approach to literary or cinematic works
  • identify a range of formal strategies deployed in specific texts and suggest how these affect readers’ responses
  • operate with improved reading skills in French and an enhanced ability to engage with theoretical works in French and in English

Syllabus

This module will introduce you to psychoanalytic theories of trauma and their relation to post-war film and literature in French. You will be asked to consider how writers and filmakers have sought to remember both national and personal traumas, and how they have attempted to represent the effects of these traumas on collective and individual identities. Some of the prescribed texts respond to mass crises (such as the Occupation or the Algerian War) that not only scarred individual lives but traumatised the national psyche, while others constitute more intimately personal narratives. You will explore questions such as: How do writers and filmakers grapple with the difficulties of remembering events that many would rather forget? How do they seek to represent events that seem to defy representation and what experiments in literary and cinematic form does these attempts give rise to? We will also investigate what role film or literature might play in the healing of psychic wounds, and explore ethical questions connected with the exhibition of trauma such as: Where does empathy end and voyeuristic sentimentalism begin? Who has the right to display the suffering of another, and who should see it? Lectures will open up the texts, setting them in their socio-political and cultural contexts and raising questions for discussion in seminars. Seminars will involve close readings of the texts.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • twice-weekly seminars (with occasional lectures); seminars will normally consist of a presentation by a student or students, followed by class discussion. • an extensive bibliography will be provided, and you will be expected to undertake a programme of independent reading. • one-to-one consultations with the tutor (in person or by email) for those wishing to discuss their progress or to raise specific issues. • Screenings Learning activities include • preparation of seminar presentations, individually or in pairs • class discussion • independent study • essay writing

TypeHours
Independent Study126
Teaching24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

General Resource. Film

Roland Barthes (1980). La Chambre claire. 

General Resource. Film

Marguerite Duras (1960). Hiroshima mon amour. 

Caché. Film

Ernaux, Annie, and Marc Marie (2006). L’Usage de la photo. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback feed-back on presentations undertaken individually or as a small-group activity; email contact or meetings with tutor to deal with your queries and concerns.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary  (2000 words) 40%
Essay  (2500 words) 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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