Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Humour in French Literature
Academic Year
Semester 2
eligibility for entry to Level 2 French
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 1-hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 1-hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment 2 x 1,500-2,000-word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination (2 essay questions, equally weighted)  60%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a better grasp of French language and registers.
2. Develop and demonstrate analytical skills in French literary texts.
3. Develop a non-stereotypical knowledge of various comic writings and genres seminal to French culture, and an understanding of different forms of humour.
4. Historically contextualise the studied texts and their use of humour.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of how humour is constructed in literary, political and aesthetic terms.
6. Relate and articulate 'ecriture comique' to other genres, and also to other 'national' humours.
7. Demonstrate a cultural awareness of its relevance to contemporary French issues.


The aim of this additional option module is to focus on the comic writings and the concept of humour and its uses in French literature, from 16thc. to 20thc., and to prepare students both culturally and linguistically for their year abroad, but it also aims to increase their analytical reading skills.
You are expected to use and quote properly secondary literature. Both the quality of secondary literature and the referencing are elements of the evaluation of your essay
Your essays and your exam answers cannot overlap. If you have in depth discussed a question in your essay, you cannot discuss it again extensively in your exam. If you do, your marks will reflect this: depending on the amount of reused material, a 50% reduction will be applied. If half of your exam answer is re-used, your exam mark will be reduced by 25%, etc.
Plagiarism, unreferenced used of foreign materials and excessive quote are not tolerated. Any plagiarised material will be considered inexistent, and depending on the amount of plagiarised materials penalties will be introduced: every plagiarised paragraph will lead to 10% deduction of the mark. Over 33% of plagiarised content the issue will be handled at departmental level.

Brief description

This module, taught in French, will introduce students to different forms of comic writings and how they introduce, redefine, manipulate and create humour. Through the combined study of novels, plays and shorts stories students will explore and develop their understanding of comic writing and humour, its varied facets (satire, parody, humour noir etc.) and its functions. The module will provide them with the critical tools to understand these forms of humour and to elaborate on the concept of 'comic writing' as a whole.


Week 1: Introduction (Les ecritures comiques)
Rabelais (Introduction generale)
Week 2: Rabelais (comique verbal et comique populaire)
Week 3: Rabelais (comique et pathetique)
Week 4: Beaumarchais (Introduction generale : le langage dramatique)
Beaumarchais (personnages comiques)
Week 5: Beaumarchais (comique et serieux)
Beaumarchais (galanterie et comique)
Week 6: Beaumarchais (Le monologue de Figaro)
Week 7: Laforgue (introduction generale: parodie)
Laforgue (Hamlet)
Week 8: Laforgue (Hamlet / Pan et Syrinx)
Week 9: Vian (Introduction generale)
Vian (Satire et invention verbale)
Week 10: Vian (humour, tragique et humour noir)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Possibly, evaluation of statistical data in the secondary reading.
Communication Oral communication developed in seminars; written communication developed in assessments and exam.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to assess their own progress week by week through their increased understanding of the issues raised and the skills developed.
Information Technology Use of on-line journals and source collections; delivery of course materials and information via email and e-learning system.
Personal Development and Career planning Acquisition of transferable skills; in-depth acquaintance with literary/cultural studies as an academic subject.
Problem solving Selection of appropriate reading material; development of evaluative analysis and critical skills and formulation of detailed arguments; answering questions posed by written assessment; seminar work.
Research skills Preparation of written assessment; preparation for seminars; detailed analysis of literary texts and contexts.
Subject Specific Skills Acquisition of French linguistic skills and detailed analysis of literary texts and wider cultural contexts.
Team work Debates and group presentations in seminars.

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
Beaumarchais (2007) Le Mariage de Figaro Bristol Classical Press Primo search Laforgue, Jules (1977) Les Moralites Legendaires Paris : Gallimard 'Folio' Primo search Vian, Boris (2007) L'Ecume des jours Paris : Le Livre de Poche Primo search
Reference Text
Barthes, Roland (1973) Le plaisir du texte Seuil Primo search Bergson, Henri (2004) Le Rire, essai sur la signification du comique PUF Evrard Primo search Franck (1996) L'Humour Hachette Primo search Raskin, Victor (1985) Semantic mechanism of humour Dordrecht: D. Reidel Primo search Sareil, Jean (1984) L'Ecriture Comique PUF Primo search Sauvy, Alfred (1988) Aux Sources de l'humour Odile Jacob Primo search Smadja, Eric (1993) Le Rire PUF, Coll. Que-sais-Je? no. 2766 Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5