Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module MELA40230: Conflict and Crisis in Modern French/Francophone Cultures

Department: Modern Language and Cultures

MELA40230: Conflict and Crisis in Modern French/Francophone Cultures

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap


  • MELA53830,MELA40530


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module examines the role played by a range of writers, film-makers and intellectuals during the political and social crises that have shaped French society over the past hundred or so years. It explores how various cultural practitioners have intervened in the public forum, how they have represented issues related to crisis in their works, and their influence on subsequent social and political developments.


  • The seminar programme begins with a historical overview, and the study of a selection of key texts illustrating the intervention of writers in the public forum from the late 19th Century onwards (such as Zola's J'accuse!, Versors' Le Silence de la mer, Alleg's La Question). Participants then choose a particular topic to explore in more detail, focusing on its mediation and representation in literature, film, theoretical writing. Topics studied might include the Dreyfus Affair, the Front populaire, the Occupation, the Algerian War and decolonisation, May 68, sexual politics and gender. Works studied might include these by Zola, Camus, Satre, Beauvoir, Godard, Foucault, Barthes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire a more detailed, more specific and more in-depth knowledge of issues relating to personal and public identity in modern France than in the core module and be able to apply and enhance the concepts and methodological strategies learnt in the core module to particluar corpus of works.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Having gained a broad knowledge of historical and cultural shifts marking nineteenth- and twentieth-century France, students should be capable of undertaking sophisticated analyses of cultural works of various sorts (literature, film, theoretical writing), and able to draw out how they reflect, respond to and articulate changes in the historical contexts in which they are embedded.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Both the formative and summative essays give students the opportunity to examine a specific topic in depth and offer scope for detailed analysis of various forms of cultural text. In so doing, they also provide necessary training for the dissertaion module. Seminar preparing and presenting research-type papers.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Tutorials 2 Monthly 0.5 1
    Seminars 6 3 Weekly / 3 Fortnightly 2.0 12
    Preparation and Reading 287
    Total 300

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay 5000 words 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    One 2000 word essay

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University