Global Opportunities

FRE4019 : Explorations of the Self in Contemporary French & Francophone Writing and Visual Culture

Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, the aims of this module are:

> To introduce students to a range of autobiographically-grounded texts and visual materials which showcase the diversity of self-representation in the contemporary moment through an intersectional lens.

> To invite students to reflect on the concept of self in the contemporary moment and the ways in which it is creatively represented.

> To familiarize students with key critical concepts drawing from a variety of fields including queer studies, sociology, psychoanalysis, postcolonial theory, literary theory, and film studies.

> To expose students to current debates in contemporary French and Francophone society and culture around questions of class, race, religion, gender, human and legal rights.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will expose students to a variety of autobiographically-rooted texts, films, and visual materials which explore how selves are built and represented in contemporary French and Francophone societies. Seeking to offer a well-rounded view of contemporary life experiences, the module will address familial backgrounds and parental relations, exile and post-colonial displacement, religion and sexuality, LGBTQIA+ (in)visibility, ageism and intergenerational community-building, as well class-consciousness. The module will be structured around three key questions: How does lived experience inform our sense of self? To what extent does the chosen aesthetic form bend or enhance our understanding of a creator’s self? What role does community play in shaping the self? Built around three main thematic blocks, the module will familiarize students with both established and emerging practitioners in the contemporary French and Francophone sphere, as outlined below:

Filiation
•       Marie Nimier – La Reine du silence (book, 2004)
•       Céline Sciamma - Petite maman (film, 2021)
•       Xavier Dolan- J’ai tué ma mère (film, 2009)
Self, community, and family
•       Agnès Varda, JR -Visages, Villages (film, 2019)
•       Édouard Louis -TBD
•       Leïla Sebbar, Nancy Houston – Lettres parisiennes (book, 1999)
•       Marjane Satrapi- Persepolis (film and BD, 2000)
LGBTQIA+
•       Anne F. Garréta - Sphinx (book, 1986)
•       Fatima Daas- La petite dernière (book, 2020)
This course will be taught and assessed in English. Students will be required to read primary and some secondary material in French.

In addition to the primary texts, students will be provided with excerpts from a wide range of critical and theoretical works pertaining to the sphere of life writing as well as sources which are thematically relevant (queer studies, post-colonial theory, psychoanalysis, to name but a few). The students will be familiarized with a wide-range of critical and theoretical texts from thinkers such as Edward Saïd, Judith Butler, Adrienne Rich, Pierre Bourdieu, and Sigmund Freud.

NB: Part of this module will involve materials which may prove to be sensitive in nature on themes such as parental death, grief, exile and displacement, war, religion and LGBTQIA+ sexuality. Should this prove to be a concern, students are advised to make an alternative module option choice.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Online delivery
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities381:0038:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops112:0022:00Synchronous- PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Synchronous-PiP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study981:0098:00N/A
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module will run over 11 weeks, and will consist of a weekly 2h seminar and of a mixture of 1 hour or 30 minute lectures.


Rationale of Teaching Methods

Lectures will provide the essential context and will introduce students to theoretical notions around contemporary ideas of the self, autobiographical writing, and marginality, while underlining the specificities of the current social and political landscape of the French and Francophone world. Furthermore, lecture materials will highlight how theoretical notions are reflected in and through the texts and films. The lecture will also provide a first look into the text or visual material by looking at its main themes as well as its structure. Students will be expected to watch pre-recorded lectures in advance with lecture notes to be published on Canvas afterwards. Furthermore, students will be expected to work through accompanying directed reading and viewing as well as supplementary materials which will be clearly signposted on Canvas.
The module is designed following a blended learning mode of teaching as it has showed to be very effective as it allowed students to reflect in their own time.

The seminar is based on the systematic study of primary sources (texts, photographs, films, etc) together with relevant secondary sources (selected critical works, such as journal articles or chapters, alongside videos, podcasts, reviews, or author/director interviews). In seminars, students will analyse the materials in detail, working through the issues raised by the lectures with support and added clarifications or examples where needed. This will include detailed analysis of selected sections of a text or film as well as larger group discussions steered by questions prepared in advance by the seminar leader (in the form of a worksheet or a PowerPoint presentation). Seminars will include small group breakouts where students will be invited to answer different questions the seminar leader has prepared in advance that they can then share with the larger seminar group. Some weeks, students will deliver presentations on a pre-approved topic.

Lectures will provide the essential context and will introduce students to theoretical notions around contemporary ideas of the self, autobiographical writing, and marginality, while underlining the specificities of the current social and political landscape of the French and Francophone world. Furthermore, lecture materials will highlight how theoretical notions are reflected in and through the texts and films. The lecture will also provide a first look into the text or visual material by looking at its main themes as well as its structure.

The seminar is based on the systematic study of primary sources (texts, photographs, films, etc) together with relevant secondary sources (selected critical works, such as journal articles or chapters, alongside videos, podcasts, reviews, or author/director interviews). In seminars, students will analyse the materials in detail, working through the issues raised by the lectures with support and added clarifications or examples where needed. This will include detailed analysis of selected sections of a text or film as well as larger group discussions steered by questions prepared in advance by the seminar leader (in the form of a worksheet or a PowerPoint presentation). Seminars will include small group breakouts where students will be invited to answer different questions the seminar leader has prepared in advance that they can then share with the larger seminar group. Some weeks, students will deliver presentations on a pre-approved topic.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M30In-class presentation or pre-recorded podcast
Essay2A703000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Oral presentation (in English or French with visual aids, such as PowerPoint slides and/or visual materials) (30%)

Students will be expected to deliver a brief presentation (15 min max if working alone, 30 min max if they work as a pair) on a topic/question designed by the students (and approved by the seminar leader/module convenor) on one of the set texts or visual materials. The exercise will test the students’ ability to develop a coherent argument and to present it in a convincing, professional manner in oral form. It will assess the students’ capacity to engage with autobiographical texts and visual material and to situate them in a contemporary context while reflecting on their enmeshment with external forces, be they social, political, religious, or ideological among others. The students will be required to engage their peers by formulating a question which furthers the scope of their presentation following its conclusion. The students will receive written feedback from their module leader.
or

Podcast (in English or French, pre-recording) (30%)

Students will be expected to record a podcast (15 min max if working alone, 30 min max if they work as a pair) on a topic/question designed by the students (and approved by the seminar leader/module convenor). The podcast may either be an argumentative one-person piece or can take the form of an argumentative dialogue if produced as a pair. In the same way as the oral presentations, the exercise will test the students’ ability to develop a coherent argument and to present it in a convincing, professional manner in oral form. It will assess the students’ capacity to engage with autobiographical texts and visual material and to situate it in a contemporary context while reflecting on its enmeshment with external forces, be they social, political, religious, or ideological among others. The students will be required to engage their peers by formulating a question which furthers the scope of their podcast topic which will be discussed in class. The podcast will be pre-circulated for all students to be able to engage with the material. The students will receive written feedback from their module leader. Relevant podcasts will be circulated as examples/templates. This assessment provides a built-in alternative for students who may be unable to deliver an in-person presentation while still honing their oral argumentative skills.

Essay (in English, 3000 words) (70%)

The students will design their own essay question which will be approved by the module convenor/seminar leader. The question will need to test their ability to engage with the representation of the self in contemporary French and Francophone culture and to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the social, political and formal context. The students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to perform independent research, thus testing their ability to search for, identify, and select relevant sources. They will be tested on their capacity to build a coherent argument drawing from these sources while honing their own critical skills.

Reading Lists

Timetable