BA Film Studies and French

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 FREN30731
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In the digital age when everything can be tweeted, sampled and shared through social media platforms, how do French writers, artists and activists immerse themselves in and respond to this environment? This course unit explores how contemporary French cultural production is increasingly concerned with technologies of communication, digital technologies and information. We will examine how practitioners reuse, copy, reframe everyday materials, texts, images, or sounds. We will examine how they create new works that offer new ways of thinking about conspiracy theories, fake news, popular culture, identity, activism, and politics. For example, we will analyse artistic forms of plagiarism and will discuss key concepts like ‘story-telling’. This course will appeal to students interested in media studies, politics, contemporary issues, and the visual arts.



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).  


Week 1. Introduction

Weeks 2, 3. Repurposing, Plagiarism and detournements in the arts

Week 3 and 4: collective works and new encyclopaedias

Weeks 5, 7 and 8: Art and Social Media

Weeks 9,10: Factographies and uncreative writing

and 11: Conclusions.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Three weekly hours in the class for 11 weeks.
  • A blend of lectures and seminars.
  • Two consultation hours per week.
  • Further consultation on demand.
  • Useful web links and revision materials available on Blackboard. 

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  

Summative or Formative

Weighting within unit 

Draft plan of practical taskFormative 

1 assessed coursework practical task  



Draft essay plan Formative 

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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