BA Film Studies and Arabic / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
History and Memory in Francophone Cinema

Course unit fact file
Unit code FREN30832
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Cinema has provided a privileged medium through which representations of history and memory have been constructed, articulated, and contested throughout the French-speaking world. Through its exploration of the intersections between these areas, this course helps students acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of how filmmakers across the French-speaking world have represented the past, while also equipping them with analytical means to interrogate the critical stakes of history and memory on screen, particularly regarding the uses of cinematic genre. By interrogating such works and notions of how history and memory have been represented by filmmakers across time, this course will appeal to students pursuing studies across French, film, history, politics, sociology, and the visual arts. 


  • to familiarise students with aspects of the broad history of Francophone cinema in relation to history and memory 

  • to introduce students to concepts of history and memory in relation to cinema in order to enable the analysis of Francophone film; 

  • to provide students with key concepts related to genre in film;  

  • to encourage and enable students to verbalise and intellectualise their emotional response to representations of history and memory in cultural production; 

  • to equip students with intellectual and analytical tools to consider the stakes of representation with regard to history and memory in Francophone film.  


Representative example:

Week 1: Introductory lecture and seminar on Francophone cinema and notions of history and memory in Francophone culture

Weeks 2–5: World War Two, the Holocaust and Documentary (three film case studies)

Weeks 7–11: Memories of the past across the French-speaking world: a range of films spanning diverse genres, conflicts, times and spaces (five film case studies)

Week 12: Concluding lecture and seminar (revision; coursework essay methodology)

Teaching and learning methods

Introductory 2-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar on Francophone cinema and notions of history and memory in French culture;

4 x 2-hour lectures and 4 x 1-hour seminars on three film case studies (World War Two, the Holocaust and Documentary)

5 x 2-hour lectures and 5 x 1-hour seminars on five film case studies (Memories of the past across the French-speaking world)

Concluding 2-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar (revision; coursework essay methodology)

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of some of the major aspects of history and memory as represented in Francophone cinema.  

Intellectual skills

Contextualise, analyse and discuss audio-visual material in a structured fashion; apply critically terminology and conceptual frameworks derived from film theory and relevant cultural theories on the cinematic representation of history and memory.  

Practical skills

Demonstrate the ability to carry out individual research for coursework essays, and express ideas and arguments coherently and convincingly in time-limited constraints, using an appropriate level of academic writing and exemplification. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Demonstrate powers of analysis; manage word-count effectively when writing coursework; manage time effectively when planning coursework; participate in seminars; work as part of a group; assess the relevance of existing literature through independent research; seek advice and feedback and develop confidence. 

Employability skills

Time management Responding to instructions Independent research; initiative Intercultural awareness Coherent expression (orally and in writing)

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 


Weighting within unit (if summative) 

Sequence analysis draft plan 




Sequence analysis 




Coursework draft plan 




Individual assessed coursework essay 




Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

Individual written and oral feedback on a sequence analysis 


Individual written and oral feedback on a coursework essay plan  


Individual written feedback on coursework essay performance 


Recommended reading

Austin, Guy, Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction, 2nd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008) 

Banaji, Ferzina, France, Film and the Holocaust: from Le Génocide to La Shoah (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) 

Cooper, Sarah, Selfless Cinema?: Ethics and French Documentary (London: Legenda, 2006) 

Greene, Naomi, Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in Postwar French Cinema (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999) 

McNeill, Isabelle, Memory and the Moving Image: French Film in the Digital Era (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010) 

Pollock, Griselda, and Maxim Silverman, Concentrationary Cinema: Aesthetics as Political Resistance in Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog (1955) (New York, NY: Berghahn, 2014) 

Rothberg, Michael, Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000) 

Saxton, Libby, Haunted Images: Film, Ethics, Testimony and the Holocaust (London: Wallflower, 2008) 

Spaas, Lieve, The Francophone Film: A Struggle for Identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000) 

Suleiman, Susan Rubin, Crises of Memory and the Second World War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006) 

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joseph Mcgonagle Unit coordinator

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