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BA Latin and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Dangerous Liaisons

Unit code FREN30362
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by French Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


“Scandalous”, “libertine”, “decadent”, and “superb” are words used by readers to describe one of the most provocative and innovative French novels. First published in 1782, the posterity of Laclos’ Les Liaisons dangereuses is remarkable: the novel has been adapted for the stage (theatre and opera), radio, and the movies in different countries (USA, China, Korea). Some of the themes weaved into the fabric of the text are eroticism and modesty, manipulation and revenge, emancipation and bondage. In this course unit, we will read the novel alongside two cinematographic adaptations (one French, one Hollywood production), and a short play written in the former East Bloc by Heiner Müller. We will address questions of adaptation (novel to film) and modes of epistolary expressions (letters vs short messages including text messages).



To provide an overview of the main themes of libertine literature
To familiarize students with pre-revolutionary French culture and literature
To provide students with key concepts of epistolary literature
To introduce students to theories of literary adaptation

Teaching and learning methods

10 two-hour lectures and 10 one-hour seminars

3 hours of review sessions Week 11.

2 two-hour film screenings.

All class presentations and extra material will be posted on Blackboard. Questions for seminars will also be posted.

Lectures principally in French and seminars in French or English

Knowledge and understanding

Analyse movie and theatrical adaptations

Study epistolary texts (letters and messages)

Intellectual skills

Use appropriate literary and film studies terminology to study the novel and its adaptations

Use suitable skills and appropriate terms to study epistolary and message rhetoric 

Practical skills

Express ideas logically and elegantly in oral and written French

Communicate strategically using messages

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Refine critical skills

Develop original ideas and engage with existing theories

Improve public speaking and group participation. 

Employability skills

Confidence in written and oral expression Advanced communicating strategies

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

1 commentary


2,000 words


1 final essay


3,000 words








Assessment task


1 essay

3,000 words


Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or Summative

1 practice commentary


1 essay plan





Recommended reading

Dagen (Jean), « D’une logique de l’écriture : Les Liaisons dangereuses », Littératures, no 4, 1981, p. 33-52.


Humbert (Brigitte), De la lettre à l’écran. « Les Liaisons dangereuses », Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2000.


Pomeau (René), Laclos, ou le paradoxe, Paris, Hachette, 1985.


Seth (Catriona), « Genre et ‘gender’ : des Liaisons dangereuses (1782) au Mauvais Genre (2000) », D’un genre à l’autre, M. Guéret-Laferté et D. Mortier éd., Rouen, PURH, 2008, p. 163-177.


Versini (Laurent), Laclos et la tradition. Essai sur les sources et la technique des Liaisons dangereuses, Paris, Klincksieck, 1968.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jerome Brillaud Unit coordinator

Additional notes





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