BA Film Studies and French

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Dangerous Liaisons

Course unit fact file
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 adaptation


Teaching and learning methods

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

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

Commentary - 40%

Essay - 60%

Feedback methods

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 20
Seminars 13
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jerome Brillaud Unit coordinator

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