Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
"...ISMES" Cultural and Artistic Movements in 20th c. France
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Eligibility for entry to Level 2 French
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Oral Presentation  (ca 10 minutes) based on an artistic artefact (text extract, painting, film scene, piece of music, etc.)  30%
Semester Assessment Dossier based on presentation topic  (2000 words, +/- 10%)  70%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements    100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Understand the aesthetic, cultural and ideological context of a given artistic work, and develop a personal interpretation of its meaning and value.

2. Conduct research in the field of literature, history of art and film studies, locating source information and secondary literatures; critical reading of secondary literature.

3. Show a good awareness of the relationship between the different art forms within the same artistic movement and be able to provide an in-depth overview of the French cultural movements of the 20th c.

4. Express key ideas clearly both in speaking and writing through the medium of English (and/or French).

Brief description

This module, mainly taught in French, but flexible as far as the language used is concerned and open to debates in English, will approach the various forms of artistic artefacts as products of intellectual tendencies, ideologies and subversive movements of the French twentieth century. A large part of the content will be devoted to the iconography of the time. The students will be asked to engage actively with the different representative processes of these movements. Through lectures, seminars, presentations and dossiers, they will be made more aware of and assimilate what forms a large part of their own cultural inheritance. It will then allow them to establish links with their own artistic and ideologically post-modern contemporaneity.


This 10 week / 14 hours course will be divided into 3 sections covering 3 broad historical periods and cultural movements: I. “L’entre-deux-guerres”, the 20s and 30s, with Surrealism and Négritude; II. The Post-war Period, “La Libération”, Existentialism, and the “Nouvelle Vague”; III. The 1968 cultural revolution and its counter-cultural ideologies, Situationism, Structuralism, and popular art forms such as satire magazines and bande dessinée.

Block I. L’Entre-deux-guerres
Session 1. Lecture: The socio-historical context of the 20s and 30s. Marxism, Freudism, Pacifism (week 1)
Session 2. Seminar: Surrealism, poetry and visual art (week 1)
Session 3. Seminar: Négritude (week 2)
Session. 4. Presentations: Discussion of research methodology and finding presentation topics (week 3)

Block II. “La Libération” and the post-war period
Session 5. Lecture: The impact of the Second World War and of “La Libération” on intellectuals and artists (week 4)
Session 6. Seminar: Existentialism: Sartre and Camus (week 4)
Session 7. Seminar: “La Nouvelle Vague”: Godard, Truffaut (week 5)
Session 8. Presentations (week 6)

Block III. New Beginnings: Around Mai 68
Session 9. Lecture: The cultural revolution of the 60s, and the dawn of Post-modernism (week 7)
Session 10. Seminar: Barthes and Structuralism (week 7)
Session 11: Seminar: Situationism (week 8)
Session 12: Seminar: Subversion in the arts, “B.D.”, “Hara-Kiri” and “Charlie Hebdo” (week 9)
Session 13. Presentations (week 10)
Session 14. Seminar: Module conclusion (week 10)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Development of clear and accurate expression in speaking and writing.
Improving own Learning and Performance The essay assignment is based on independent research with consultation possibilities with the module convener. The quality of the independent thinking and depth of newly acquired knowledge will be assessed in both essay and presentation and the student will be expected to provide a high level of self-reflection.
Information Technology Power point can be used in presentation. Only resources are widely available on the taught topics.
Personal Development and Career planning A certain amount of transferable skills is built in the coursework.
Problem solving Students have to identify and chose artistic artifacts; they need to develop criteria to assess the relevance of the chosen material to the course.
Research skills Students have to perform independent research in preparation for their essays, including localizing source material.
Subject Specific Skills The study and interpretation of iconography or film extracts require skills different from the analysis of a text.
Team work Developed through seminar discussions and constructive feedback from peers on presentations.


This module is at CQFW Level 5