Module LXF-2101:

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gillian Jein

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 the urbanism issues faced by the city and its people in the course of its history, 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): Code Inconnu. Dir. Michael Haneke. Artificial Eye. 2000 Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. UGC. 2001 Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder Leïla Sebbar’s Métro Instantanés (2007)

Main secondary materials include: Margaret Atack. ‘L’imaginaire de mai’ in May 68 in French fiction and film: rethinking society, rethinking representation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) Jean Baudrillard’s ‘The Beaubourg Effect’ Matthew Moran, ‘Power Relations and Representation: the Power of the Media’ in The Republic and the Riots: Exploring Urban Violence in French Suburbs, 2005-2007 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2012) Pierre Nora, ‘Between Memory and History’

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. Students will develop a very good geographical knowledge of the city, and become aware of the relationship of the urban core to its peripheries.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY assessment 1 40

The presentation will take place during class time in week 12.

ESSAY assessment2 40

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

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: