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FR1: Introduction to French literature, linguistics, film and thought

The paper is designed to offer an introduction to French literary texts, film and linguistics. This range is both chronological (students will meet works from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth century) and generic (the paper encompasses poetry, theatre, discursive prose, film and linguistics). Students are expected to attend lectures on Linguistics but can opt in or out of Supervisions in this subject. Students will be expected to develop an independent critical voice as they approach literary works/film, while drawing, where applicable, on the insights of secondary criticism and theoretical approaches. Students will, ideally, be able to develop skills in close reading and critical commentary, to perfect essay writing in a concise and pertinent manner and pursue sophisticated comparative analyses of apparently discrete works. The paper presupposes no previous literary experience, but students will need an excellent command of the French language. They are expected to read all set texts in French, but the teaching and essay-writing will be conducted in English. Fr1 will allow students both to savour works which are highly stimulating and challenging in themselves, while providing a basis from which they can subsequently make informed choices for Part IB.

  • Renaud de Beaujeu, Le Bel Inconnu (Paris: Champion, 2003).
  • Pierre Ronsard, Les Amours (1552-1584), ed. Marc Bensimon and James L. Martin (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1981)
    Sonnets pour Hélène, Books I and II (pp. 261-314)
  • Corneille, Horace, ed, Jean-Pierre Chauveau, Collection Folio Théâtre no. 16 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994)
  • Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses, ed. Joël Papadopoulous, preface by André Malraux, Folio Classique, 894 (Paris: Gallimard, 2006)
  • New text from 2017/18: Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, ed. Stéphane Vachon (Paris: Le Livre de Poche Classiques, 1995) 
  • Agnès Varda (director), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962)
  • Plus Linguistics if selected 
Preparatory reading: 

Students may find the following texts provide a useful background: The Cambridge History of French Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2011), ed. B. Burgwinkle, N. Hammond, E. Wilson

A. Battye, M.A. Hintze and P. Rowlett, The French Language Today (Routledge)

H. Walter, Le Français dans tous les sens (Laffont)

Teaching and learning: 

The paper will be taught in lectures (at the Faculty) and through supervision and/or seminar (in College).  Typically, there will be two lectures per week in Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Students can expect a supervision every fortnight throughout the academic year.

For the Fr.1 Moodle site, please see here. The password can be collected from the paper coordinator.


The paper will be assessed in a three-hour examination.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Tim Chesters