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Post-War French Culture, 1944-1968 - ENG00013I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Geoffrey Wall
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

Ranging from the liberation of Paris in August 1944 to the riots of May 1968,  we explore the most challenging and creative examples of twentieth century French culture: films; novels; poetry; songs; life-writing; photography; journalism; theoretical, philosophical, political and polemical texts.

 Each week for twelve weeks, there will be a seminar with a theme and a range of set texts, as well as a one-hour workshop which will be devoted to translation skills. We will read works by Sartre and De Beauvoir, Camus and Duras, Perec and Levi-Strauss. We will discuss films by Resnais, Malle, Godard, Pontecorvo and Bunuel. We will translate poems by Eluard and Aragon. We will analyse songs and photographs. We will also explore the movements and the manifestoes, the group projects, political and aesthetic, which are a distinctive feature of French cultural life: existentialism, surrealism, structuralism, situationism. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

The aim of this module is to explore, across different media, the distinctive French culture of the period from 1944 to 1968, a culture intimately shaped by the collective experiences of military defeat and occupation, liberation, colonial warfare and urban revolution. 

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of post-war French texts, images, artefacts and narratives.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with concepts of national culture and the French experience of modernity.
  3. Examine key debates and critical contexts.
  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
  5. Demonstrate a sound knowledge of French, and an understanding of some issues at stake in the act of translation.


Task Length % of module mark
24 hour open exam
Post-War French Culture, 1944-1968
N/A 30
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

  • You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000-word formative essay in preparation for your formative essay. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.
  • The two-hour closed exam (which is 30% of the module mark) will focus on translation (15%) and commentary (15%). You will be expected to demonstrate a sound knowledge of French, translating from French into English short passages from the texts studied in the seminars and workshops. For the commentary section, you will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of some of the issues at stake in the act of translation. The twelve weekly one-hour workshops will be an opportunity to practise both of these skills. 


Task Length % of module mark
24 hour open exam
Post-War French Culture, 1944-1968
N/A 30
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours  Or for MA modules put MA convener, module tutor or your supervisor
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Primary texts will include work by Bresson, Godard, Truffaut, Cocteau, Blanchot, Breton, Giroux, Ponge, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Anouilh, Camus, Artaud, Genet, Le Théâtre du Soleil, Barthes, Althusser, Lacan, Guy Debord and Jacques Derrida.


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.