BA English Language and French

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Temptations of the Tragic: Love and Death in French Literature

Unit code FREN20682
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by French Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Love, death, murder, incestuous feelings, passions, excess and jealousy are some of the themes woven into the fabric of the texts selected for this module. We will start the semester with one of the best known plays of the French dramatic repertoire, Phèdre (1677) by Jean Racine, a tragedy of forbidden love, fate and power; we will then study, Carmen (1845) by Prosper Mérimée, a novella about outlaws, bad omens, passion and crime, which inspired the famous opera, and we will read a novel by Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin (1867), a tale of desire and murder denounced as “putrid” literature. Introductory lectures will present the main themes, genres and periods, while seminars will focus on questions of moral responsibility, freedom, determinism, tragic heroism and tragic pleasure, or how we find pleasure in reading or watching the pain of others.  

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
French for Modern Languages and Business and Management FREN10050 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
French Language 3 FREN51030 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Aims

 

  • To provide an overview of tragic drama and tragic literature
  • To familiarize students with different forms of representation of love, death and tragic passions
  • To provide students with key concepts of tragedy (‘heroism’, ‘fate’, ‘determinism’, ‘moral responsibility’, ‘tragic pleasure’)
  • To be able to analyse and discuss main stylistic issues in key literary and dramatic texts

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 

  • Analyse and discuss key concepts related to tragedy and tragic passions
  • Demonstrate some knowledge of issues related to moral responsibility, freedom and determinism
  • Show some knowledge of three different literary genres from different periods
  • Develop critical skills to analyse literary and dramatic texts

Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to tragic theory and main themes

Weeks 2, 3, 4: Racine, Phèdre

Weeks 5, 6, 7: Mérimée, Carmen

Weeks 8, 9, 10: Zola, Thérèse Raquin

Week 11: Review sessions in preparation for the final exam

Teaching and learning methods

 Week 1 is composed of three introductory lectures

Weeks 2-10: A combination of lectures and seminars totaling 3 hours per week

Week 11 is dedicated to review sessions and formative assessment

 

Teaching in French and in English


Overview of Blackboard content:
All class presentations and extra material will be posted on Blackboard 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 

  • Demonstrate a sound knowledge of issues related to freedom, moral responsibility, and tragedy
  • Understand historical variations in the representations of tragic passions by authors from different periods and literary traditions

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 

  • Think critically about literary representations of passion, love, death, tragedy, freedom and moral responsibility
  • Analyse and synthesize a range of texts pertaining to the tragic genre
  • Develop a coherent and well documented argument  

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 

  • Think critically about literary representations of passion, love, death, tragedy, freedom and responsibility

  • Analyse and synthesize a range of texts pertaining to the tragic genre

  • Develop original ideas and engage with tragic theories

  • Improve public speaking and group participation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 

  • Develop original ideas and engage with literary and dramatic theories

  • Improve public speaking and group participation

Employability skills

Other
Develop original ideas and engage with complex theories Improve public speaking and group participation Develop confidence Manage time effectively

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Length

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Coursework (commentary)

summative

2000 words

40%

Essay plan

formative

500 words

formative

Exam

summative

two hours

60%

 

RE-SIT ASSESSMENT

Assessment task

Length

Exam (1.5h commentary and 1.5h essay)

3h

 

Feedback methods

 

 

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

written feedback on the commentary

summative

written and oral feedback on the essay plan

Formative. The essay plan is prep for the exam

written feedback on the exam

summative


 

Recommended reading

 Primary sources :

Jean Racine, Phèdre

Prosper Mérimée, Carmen

Emile Zola, Thérèse Raquin

Secondary sources :

Marc Escola, Le tragique, Paris: Flammarion, 2002

John D. Lyons, Kingdom of Disorder: The Theory of Tragedy in Classical France, West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1999

Anthony Nuttall, Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002

George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy, London: Faber, 1961

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jerome Brillaud Unit coordinator

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