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Understanding post-68 France through Cinema - LAN00039H

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Angela O'Flaherty
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

In May 1968, France erupted in a wave of riots, strikes and protests as students and workers alike demanded the modernisation of society. What started as a movement to radically alter French society ultimately fizzled out but it set in motion the steady evolution of French values, societal mores and legislation. The roots of both the Feminist and the Gay Liberation movements of the 70s and beyond can be traced back to May 1968.

In this module, we use French cinema to look not only at the importance of Mai 68 but also at the evolution of French society it sparked. By using a curated list of films that both date from the decades in question, as well as more contemporary examples which reflect on this past, we will examine how France set about modernising itself and, perhaps more importantly, how it takes stock of the lengths still needed to meet the heady dreams of the soixante-huitards.

Related modules

Pre-requisite module

  • French language and cultures: Advanced

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The module will:

  • Examine in depth a selection of films in relation to Mai 68 and the modernisation of French society;

  • Discuss the evolution of the modernisation of French society;

  • Consider the treatment of associated key themes on screen;

  • Frame the discussion of the selected films with analysis of appropriate primary and secondary materials including articles, speeches, interviews, photographs etc.;

  • Introduce students to basic concepts of film analysis;

  • Explore the place of cinema ('le 7e art') in French society and culture;

  • Improve proficiency in written and spoken French.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a number of films in French as well as the cultural context they were produced in and the social, cultural historical context they refer to;

  • Critically evaluate the treatment of key themes in the selected films;

  • Compare and contrast differing treatments of key themes across a series of French films;

  • Interpret and analyse primary and secondary sources;

  • Demonstrate independent study skills and pursue personal research on the topics discussed;

  • Formulate and justify arguments related to the subject matter;

  • Communicate in both spoken and written French with increased confidence and accuracy.

Module content

The topics covered might include:

  • The May 1968 movement: students and workers’ perspectives;

  • The liberalisation of sexual mores/ Sexual revolution;

  • Women’s rights: abortion and sexual freedoms, professional rights etc.;

  • The AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s;

  • Issues of equality (Feminism; LGBTQ+);

3 one-hour seminars per week

  • Independent study in the form of preparation for class discussion is an essential part of students’ commitment

  • Particular emphasis is given to the development of analytical and critical skills through the study of authentic materials (i.e. resources in French for native speakers of French)

  • The module is taught and assessed in French.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 60
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Understanding post-68 France through Cinema
5 hours 40

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Research Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Formative tasks done individually or in groups throughout the module

  • Feedback will include written comments and oral feedback during class discussions.

Summative assessment and feedback

Students will be given written feedback and marks for their work within the University mandated schedule.

Indicative reading

Films which may be studied include: Milou en mai (1990), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962), Potiche (2010) L'Événement (2021), Les Témoins (2007), Les Nuits fauves (1992) and 120 battements par minute (2017).

Students will also consider primary sources from the period being examined: documentaries made during Mai 68 (ex: La reprise du travail aux usines Wonder), militant posters connected to the main themes (posters from the Beaux Arts students, MLF and Act-up ), manifestos, extracts of key legislation (Loi Veil) etc.

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.