BA French and German / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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

Unit code FREN20681
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by French Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

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

This unit is available as free choice with knowledge of the target language.

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 

 

Teaching and learning methods

Some of the lectures for this unit will be delivered online.

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 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

Commentary - 40%

Essay Plan - Formative

Exam - 60%

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 preparation 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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