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

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kathryn Robson
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


-       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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials120:306:00Recorded lecture videos each teaching week for students to listen to and respond to before each PIP.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00On campus present-in-person lectures to scaffold the learning.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching211:0021:0021 hours of PIP seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:00Key reading tasks with questions to prepare each week.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:002 hours of drop in surgery offered PIP/ on Zoom (both)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study821:0082:00Free reading on topic with peers. Student-led discussion. Other independent research and study
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study112:0022:00Guided independent study themed to the week’s lecture and seminar topic.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide the essential historical context both to the Occupation itself and to the texts and films covered in the module.

Lecture materials (in the form of recording) will provide the essential historical context both
to the Occupation itself and to its cultural memory since, and will work through a range of theoretical perspectives on trauma, loss and memory. They will also introduce students to the set texts and films through short videos, brief written case studies and longer Powerpoint recordings.

Students will be expected to work through the lecture materials and accompanying directed reading/viewing which
will be clearly signposted on Canvas.

In seminars, students will analyse both thematic/historical issues (eg the treatment of Jewish children in the
Occupation) or one of the set texts/films in detail, working through the issues raised by the lectures with support and added clarifications or examples where needed.

Students will be expected to carry out guided independent reading and to prepare questions – of a simple but also more extensive nature – in advance of seminars.

The drop in sessions will be mainly to go through assessment queries in person.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M301500 word essay in English
Essay2A702500 word essay in English
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MAn essay plan in English of 1000 words (optional)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first short essay mid semester will be focused on one or two films, requiring students to practise and develop their cinematic analysis in a very specific historical context.

The second essay assesses students’ ability to apply knowledge of the Occupation or the Holocaust, as well as of
cultural memories since then, to detailed analysis of chosen texts representing experience or memories of WW2 in
France. The formative essay will allow students to practise analytical and essay-writing skills and receive feedback before going on to write the main essay.

Students will be given general guidance on approaching essay writing in semester 1 for the formative essay and will be given individual and full-cohort feedback on the formative essay to help them to improve their work for the summative essay in semester 2.

Reading Lists