Module Catalogue 2020/21

FRE4003 : Occupation and Resistance: Literary and Cinematic Responses to the Second World War in France

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kathryn Robson
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



-       To explore how the Occupation of France in the Second World War has been represented in history and in collective memory through the study of novels, films, historical and testimonial texts that retell/document aspects of the Occupation in fictional form
-       To acquire a working knowledge of the history of France between 1939 and 1945
-       To analyse a range of French representations of the Holocaust
-       To understand philosophical, ethical, moral and political debates about the representability of the Holocaust
-       To analyse French cinematic and textual representations of World War II/the Holocaust produced after the war and until the present in the context of wider national and international political and ethical debates around cultural memory, memorialization, and testimony

Outline Of Syllabus

This module has two main strands: firstly, it draws on and explores a range of different textual and cinematic representations of the Occupation in order to explore how the Second World War has been remembered in France; secondly, it looks at testimonial and cinematic representations of the Holocaust, particularly the concentration camps, from a French perspective. The module begins with a historical overview of the Second World War and its legacy in French cultural memory, before exploring selected textual/cinematic representations in the light of theoretical and philosophical writings in English and in French.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding of:

-       the history of the Second World War in France, of the Occupation and of the Vichy regime
-       deportation to the Nazi concentration camps
-       the position of the Jews in the Occupation
-       the notions of collaboration and résistance
-       the Liberation and épuration
-       how the Occupation has been remembered and represented in France since 1945
-       how specific literary texts and films reflect or rewrite history and collective memory of the Second World War
-       how to read novels and films in relation to the historical events of 1939-1945 in France
-       theories surrounding testimony, memory and bearing witness during and after the Holocaust

Students will be encouraged to think critically and independently about the relation between history and fictional texts (novels and films),as well as testimonial texts.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will practise and develop the following skills:
-       analysing literary texts and sequences of film closely and critically
-       understanding and evaluating theoretical writings on the Holocaust/Second World War
-       using literary and cinematic texts as a means to approach the study of history
-       understanding and taking notes in lectures given in the target language
-       presenting and discussing ideas orally in seminars
-       researching topics in detail in the appropriate books, journals and electronic sources
-       constructing a coherent argument based on textual evidence both orally and in writing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures allow definition of the scope of the syllabus, an introduction to a body of knowledge, and modeling of the level of analysis required (note-taking). Lectures will be (mainly) in French to familiarize students with the relevant vocabulary on the topics covered and to give additional practice in listening to (academic) French. Some lectures will be delivered in English, particularly on topics where English-language theories are introduced.

Seminars give students the opportunity of working in groups, researching topics individually and in groups, trying out their knowledge and understanding in group presentations, and asking questions (interpersonal communication and oral presentations). Seminars will (mainly) be in English to encourage student participation and to allow students to test out complex ideas that they might find difficult to formulate in French. Answering of assessed essay questions will entail initiative in individual research (note-taking), practice in written communication, analysis and in standard formats of presentation of work.


Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A30Examination of one hour: students answer one (essay-style) question, in French, covering material from across the whole module
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M70One essay of up to 2,500 words, in English.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MPractice essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay of 2,500 words (to be submitted in English and according to the guidelines in the SML undergraduate handbook at the end of the semester) allows students to demonstrate a reasoned and coherent argument in writing, based on evidence from the literary and cinematic texts. The essay is based on individual study and analysis and encourages students to work independently and to study in depth a particular aspect of the issues presented in the module. In addition, the essay enables students to show evidence of the following skills: bibliographical work, word-processing, footnoting and referencing.

The examination tests students’ knowledge and understanding of the module overall, ensuring a wide awareness of the key issues, events and theories surrounding the Occupation of France and French responses to the Holocaust. Students answer one question, in French.

Practice essay - Students can choose to write a practice/mock exam answer or a practice assessed essay answer to receive individual feedback that can help them to prepare for their assessed work.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.