Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 7 hrs lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 13 hrs seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  75%
Semester Assessment 2 oral presentations (20 mins) on topic of student's choice, relating to the main debate of the module. Dates of such presentations varying according to topic chosen.  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay on a different topic (75%), and/or 15-20 min. script on a new topic, written as if for delivery, with accompanying visual aids (25%). 

Learning Outcomes

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

1. demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of post-1920 French literary texts in their cultural and theoretical contexts;
2. demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary debates concerning these developments;
3. demonstrate a critical understanding of the complex relationship between literature and society in contemporary France;
4. demonstrate that they have mastered advanced skills as critical readers of culture;
5. demonstrate that they have mastered sophisticated analytical skills;
6. express themselves clearly, coherently and in a logical fashion, both orally and in writing.


This module is designed to be an option module in the new MA in Modern European Culture scheme which will be on offer in 2008-09. It is intended to complement both the sociolinguistic option module (The Social History of French since 1900) and the other literature option module (The Monster in Contemporary French literature). It will offer students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of contemporary French culture and literature through study of a range of literary texts.

Brief description

Through close analysis of a range of key 20th C. texts and films, students of this module will explore the issues raised by French thinkers like Bataille, Caillois, Deleuze and Derrida, amongst others. More specifically, we shall examine how writers/film-makers are tackling, through their work, concepts such as body, literarity, alterity, transgression, most notably after WW1. We shall look at various ways to re-think the traditional links between body and speech, and how changes in the way one thinks of one's body radically alter the way one writes, and vice-versa. What we will see is, in fact, how for many writers, true physical freedom is played out through the redefinition/creation of a new language, be it mythical (surrealism; Artaud), musical (Cocteau; Vian), poetic (Artaud; surrealism; Cocteau; Bonnefoy) or cinematic (Cocteau; Chaplin).


1. Introductory lecture (1h lecture)
2. Antonin Artaud and the Corps sans Organes (CsO): 'Le Theatre et son double'; 'Le Pese-Nerfs'; 'Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu'; 'Suppots et Suppliciations' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
3. A. Breton: surrealism and the body: 'Manifestes du surrealisme'; 'L'Amour fou'; 'Arcane 17' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
4. Cinematic bodies: J. Cocteau, C. Chaplin: 'La trilogie Orphique ('Le Sang d'un poete'; 'Orphee'; 'Le Testament d'Orphee') and 'Modern Times' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
5. J. Paulhan: Malagasy mytho-bodies: 'Les Fleurs de Tarbes'; 'Les incertitudes du langage'; 'Le repas et l'amour chez les Merinas' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
6. B. Vian: musical bodies: 'L'Ecume des jours'; 'Lautomne a Pekin'; 'L'Herbe rouge' ; 'L'Arrache-coeur' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
7. Y. Bonnefoy: poetic bodies: 'Traite du pianiste'; 'Anti-Platon'; 'Rue Traversiere'; 'Le Coeur-espace' (1h lecture, 2h seminar)
8. Concluding seminar (1h)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Participating in seminars and writing of essay, as well as the two oral presentations, will require student to express their ideas clearly, cogently and coherently;
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent preparation for essay and seminars, independent research for essay and seminars.
Information Technology Students will be required to access bibliographical information and to submit word processed essays. (indirectly assessed)
Personal Development and Career planning Student will be expected to show an ability to manage their own time effectively and to engage in independent lines of research in preparing their essays. (indirectly assessed)
Problem solving Selection of reading material, answering questions posed by written assessment, seminar work
Research skills Researching for essay and for seminars by relating literary texts to historical, cultural and theoretical contexts and by synthesising information in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Students will be required to read material in French in order to prepare for seminars and/or essays. (indirectly assessed)
Team work This will apply in the seminars.

Reading List

Essential Reading
ARTAUD, Antonin Le Pèse-nerfs, in OEuvres Primo search ARTAUD, Antonin (2004) Le théâtre et son double, in OEuvres, E. Grossman, éd. Paris : Gallimard 'Quarto' Primo search ARTAUD, Antonin Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu, in OEuvres Primo search ARTAUD, Antonin Suppôts et suppliciations, in OEuvres Primo search BONNEFOY, Yves (2001) Le Coeur-espace Paris : Léo Scheer Primo search BONNEFOY, Yves (1992) Rue Traversière Gallimard 'Poésie' Primo search BONNEFOY, Yves, (2003) Traité du pianiste Paris : Mercure de France Primo search BRETON, André (2001) Arcane 17, enté d'ajours Paris : Le Livre de Poche Primo search BRETON, André (1976) L'Amour fou Paris : Gallimard 'Folio' Primo search BRETON, André (1985) Manifestes du surréalisme Paris : Gallimard 'Folio' Primo search CHAPLIN, Charles (2004) Modern Times DVD MK2 Primo search COCTEAU, Jean (2003) Le Testament d'Orphée Paris : Editions du Rocher Primo search COCTEAU, Jean (2005) Le sang d'un poète/Le Testament d'Orphée DVD Studio Canal Primo search COCTEAU, Jean (2001) Orphée DVD TF1 Video Primo search PAULHAN, Jean (1970) Le Repas et l'amour chez les Mérinas Paris : Fata Morgana Primo search PAULHAN, Jean (1990) Les fleurs de Tarbes ou La Terreur dans les Lettres Paris : Gallimard 'Folio' Primo search PAULHAN, Jean (1970) Les incertitudes du langage Paris : Gallimard 'Idées' Primo search VIAN, Boris (1982) L'Arrache-coeur Paris : Livre de Poche Primo search VIAN, Boris (2005) L'Ecume des jours Paris : Livre de Poche Primo search VIAN, Boris (1992) L'Herbe rouge Paris : Livre de Poche Primo search VIAN, Boris (1980) L'automne à Pékin Paris : Editions de Minuit Primo search
Recommended Background
BACHELARD, Gaston (1943) L'Air et les Songes - Essai sur l'imagination du mouvement Paris : José Corti Primo search BACHELARD, Gaston (1942) L'Eau et les Rêves - Essai sur l'imagination de la matière Paris : José Corti Primo search BATAILLE, Georges (1957) L'érotisme Paris : Gallimard Primo search BAUDRILLARD, Jean (1972) Pour une critique de l'économie politique du signe Paris : Gallimard Primo search BLANCHOT, Maurice (1967) « Le demain joueur », La Nouvelle Revue Française Paris : Gallimard Primo search BLANCHOT, Maurice (1969) L'Entretien infini Paris : Gallimard Primo search BLANCHOT, Maurice (1959) Le Livre à venir Paris : Gallimard Primo search DELEUZE, Gilles (1969) Logique du sens Paris : Minuit Primo search DELEUZE, Gilles et Félix GUATTARI (1972) L'Anti-OEdipe, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie Paris : Minuit Primo search DELEUZE, Gilles et Félix GUATTARI (1980) Mille plateaux - Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2 Paris : Minuit Primo search DERRIDA, Jacques (1986) « Forcener le subjectile », in Antonin Artaud - Dessins et portraits, éd. Paule Thévenin et Jacques Derrida 55-108 Paris : Gallimard Primo search DERRIDA, Jacques (2002) Artaud le Moma Paris : Galilée Primo search DERRIDA, Jacques (1967) L'Ecriture et la différence Paris : Le Seuil Primo search JACCOTTET, P., (1968) L'entretien des muses Paris : Gallimard Primo search RICHARD, Jean-Pierre (1964) Onze études sur la poésie moderne Paris : Le Seuil Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7