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Module LXF-2101:

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Armelle Blin-Rolland

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To give students an overview of the history of Paris and of a variety of major developments and events which have taken place in the city.
  2. To make students aware of the relationship, where appropriate, of such developments and events to the progress and identity of the French nation.
  3. To make students aware of urban planning and its effects on the social structures of the city and of the success or otherwise of responses to such issues.
  4. To help students appreciate the close relationship between the Paris of today and its past, including the historical and cultural significance of various monuments.

Course content

This module is concerned with Paris as cultural icon and touristic capital, on the one hand, and as a city built upon processes of exclusion, peripheral identities and creativity at the margins, on the other. Students will engage initially with the foundational urban architectures of the Second Empire (1852–70) before coming to study expressions of modern and contemporary Paris. Through lectures and seminars, this module will bring to life the multiple and contradictory representations of the city, as well as the marginal stories informing more official representations of its key monuments, museums and geographical sites. Students will engage critically with both global landmarks (such as la Tour Eiffel) and unofficial sites of artisitic inscription (such as street art). They will consider both central events that have celebrated and reinforced French Republican world-views (such as the Exposition Coloniale of 1931) and events on the margins that have challenged the very concept of Republicanism (such as the banlieues riots of 2005). They will learn to view Paris not just from a static ‘centralized’ perspective, but also as a city shaped by its peripheries, the diverse practices of its inhabitants, its mobilities and its ongoing capacity for dissent. Drawing from a broad selection of media, including documentary, film, fiction, exhibition catalogues, posters, architecture and contemporaneous newspaper reports, students will gain an important insight into the eclectic, colourful and often paradoxical nature of Parisian architectures, society and culture, while learning to question and challenge the touristic and governmental imaginaries of one of Europe’s most iconic cities.

Key texts

Primary texts and films include the following (these may vary from one year to the next): Films Caché. Dir. Michael Haneke. Artificial Eye. 2005 Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. UGC. 2001 Cléo de 5 à 7 Dir. Agnès Varda. 1962

Short Novels Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder (1997) Georges Perec's Les Choses (1965)

Assessment Criteria


D- - D+: In order to merit the award of credit, student should demonstrate a basic comprehension of the material presented, and demonstrate that they can clearly differentiate between the various portions of that material.


C- - B+: Students attaining the higher grades in this course will show a high level of clarity in sorting and analysis of the course material, and will show a creditable range of secondary exploration which is likely to help them explore the themes which link various periods and developments, forming their own conclusions.


A- - A*: Students attaining the highest grades in this course will additionally have produced innovative analysis of the subject matter and the broader themes emerging from it, and will be able to engage with and, at a high level, even challenge received ideas about interpretation of the story of Paris.

Learning outcomes

  1. On successful completion of the module, students will gain an awareness of the links between geographies and identities as they pertain to Paris

  2. On successful completion of the module, students will develop a good geographical knowledge of the city, and become aware of the relationship of the urban core to its peripheries.

  3. On successful completion of the module, students will become aware of key individuals and regimes with an influence over the development and life of the city, with particular reference to the 19th and 20th Centuries.

  4. On successful completion of the module, students will be able to critically evaluate literary representations of the city.

  5. On successful completion of the module, students will gain a greater historical and cultural insight into the form and life of Paris than might a casual or tourist visitor to the city.

  6. On successful completion of the module, students will gain a good sense of aspects of French identity as reflected by the various cultural representations of Paris in the modern and contemporary periods.

  7. On successful completion of the module, students will demonstrate an ability to discuss themes and techniques in cinematic representations of the city

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay 1

Students will write on one of the essay titles from the first 4 weeks of the course. The essay should be written in either English, Welsh or French.


Select one of the presentation topics from the module handbook. Please note that you may not select a topic that overlaps with your other assignments.

The presentations will be delivered in the final week of the module.

The presentations are to last 6 MINUTES.

You may (but are not obliged to) use PowerPower slides, handouts, props, short video or music clips and web resources to support your presentation. You are strongly not to write out the presentation in full, but to work from bullet points. You will be marked down if you are seen to be reading directly from your notes. You will be permitted 1 side of A4 maximum. Your notes and any other supporting materials (slides, handouts etc.) must be handed over the examiners at the end of the presentation along with a bibliography of all references used. The presentations will be recorded to assist with the examination process.

ESSAY Essay 2

Students should write a 2000-word essay on one of the topics set for Essay 2 in your module handbook. The Essay may be written in English, French or Welsh.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


1 x 1-hour lectures per week for 11 weeks Individual or small group meetings to discuss marked assignments, to be arranged locally as and when required.

Private study 174

1 x 1-hour seminars per week for 11 weeks


2x2hour film screenings to be arranged outside of class hours


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • The ability to critically assess historical and culture materials about the city of Paris (and its surrounding areas) and place them within an appropriate context.
  • The ability to comprehend and interact with critical assessments of the primary sources considered (incl. films and/or literature and/or other media in the target language) and their contexts. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4, 5.10, 5.11. 5.13)
  • The ability to comprehend aspects of French history, culture and language. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to critically understand cultural studies concepts on representation, the nation and identity, and their application to core texts (incl. filmic and/or literary and/or other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to comprehend and critically engage with issues related to national and cultural identity and to develop an understanding of these in relation to ideas of representation. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand French national identity, its historical evolution and contestation throughout key moments in the history of the Republic. (Benchmark statement 5.10)


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: