BA History and French / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Art, Culture and Activism in France in the Age of Social Media

Course unit fact file
Unit code FREN30732
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit focuses on new forms of creative practices in the French and Francophone world today.  In a world where everything is increasingly digitalized, sampled and shared, how do French and Francophone artists respond to this changing environment? Taking stock of the new challenges offered by digital platforms and the Internet, this unit examines how French and Francophone artists increasingly copy, reuse, reframe everyday objects, forms of writing and media. Faced with the unlimited amount of materials available today artists repurpose what already exists to create new artistic forms and challenge traditional ideas about art and language, fiction and ‘high art’. Spam letters and newspapers are turned into fiction, stock image banks into films, user generated contents and company patents into choreographies, courtroom testimonies into graphs. By incorporating these materials into new genres and media (texts, films, music, choreography, digital practices), artists offer new ways of thinking about mass information, identity, popular culture and politics. For example, we will analyse artistic forms of plagiarism and we will discuss key concepts like ‘story-telling’.



Pre-requisite units

None, but note that this course unit is delivered in French.



  • To know and recognize the most stimulating art forms of 20th and 21st century French and Francophone cultures and understand their cultural and political meaning.  

  • To reflect critically on the notions of ‘repurposing’, ‘activism’ and ‘appropriation’, and the values of cross-media practices.  

  • To analyse a range of materials and to situate them in a clear historical and intellectual context, using an interdisciplinary methodology;  

  • To understand and use appropriate concepts for the analysis of these works (critical theory, media theory, production, reception, etc).  

Teaching and learning methods

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

Knowledge and understanding

  • To know major experimental practices of 20th and 21st c. French and Francophone cultures and understand their meaning and implications; 

  • To analyse works across various art forms in an interdisciplinary manner;  

  • To understand and use appropriate concepts for the analysis of these works (critical theory, media theory, production, reception, etc).  

Intellectual skills

  • To define and manipulate concepts and methodologies mainly drawn from media theory;  

  • To understand contemporary poetic practices as a semiotic system making sense through analyses of range of art forms and media 

  • To evaluate critically the notions of ‘political writing’ and ‘repurposing’ and ‘activism’  

  • To analyse and critically evaluate the construction of a new field of investigation in contemporary French and Francophone cultures. 

Practical skills

  • Reading, writing and speaking fluently in sophisticated French; likewise in English.  

  • To structure and write an essay individually, or as part of a team;  

  • To carry out independent research;  

  • To participate in class discussions in French and English. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

  • Engage in independent reflection and enquiry. 

  • Analyse sources and cultural meaning, and provide a synthesis of their findings. 

  • Carefully formulate a research question, and structure an answer in a logical manner.  

  • Write in formal French and/or English.  

  • Participating in group discussions in French and English 

  • Engage in group discussion. 

Employability skills

The course will have particular benefits for students interested in pursuing a career in teaching and learning, (media) journalism, social services and culture. The course enhances skills of analysis, synthesis and oral presentation. The course content also encourages students to reflect upon the world outside of University, thereby providing confidence in the use of rigorous academic research in a variety of non-academic environments.

Assessment methods

Assessment task  


Weighting within unit 

1assessed coursework practical task  



1 coursework essay  




Feedback methods

  • Formative, individual, in-class oral remarks on students’ participation and understanding.
  • Summative, individual written comments on the assessed coursework essay.
  • And finally, summative and individual written feedback on the final exam.

Recommended reading

There is no set text to buy for this course unit, but key recommendations include:  

David Bolter, Jay and Grusin, Richard, Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT Press, 2000) 

Leibovici, Franck, Des Documents Poétiques (Paris: Al Dante, 2007) 

Hanna, Christophe, Nos Dispositifs Poétiques (Paris: Questions Théoriques, 2010) 

Goldsmith, Kenneth, Uncreative Writing (Columbia University Press, 2011) 

Citton, Yves, Médiarchie (Paris: Seuil, 2017). 

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jeff Barda Unit coordinator

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