FR30390 Postcolonial Narratives in French

Academic Year 2023/2024

This is a reading module. We will read three postcolonial narratives in French. The emphasis will be on improving students' ability to read text in French, while exploring what colonialism was/is, how it worked and also its legacy, namely postcolonialism. Because this is a vast question, our particular approach to it will highlight how colonialism is inscribed in the family relationships at the heart of the three set narratives. All of the contact hours will normally be devoted to close readings of texts, and to Q&A on those readings. The texts will usually be extracts from the three core narratives. Students will be encouraged to do further reading and to attend guest lectures, film screenings etc. and there may be input into the contact hours from guest tutors also. The optimisation of our use of the weekly Friday 10-12 sessions is not yet set in stone. The three narratives at the heart of the course are: 'Le Cœur à rire et à pleurer' (Maryse Condé), 'L'Africain' (J.M.G. Le Clézio) and 'L'Amant' (Marguerite Duras). They are set between Paris and Guadeloupe, between Nice and Cameroon/Nigeria, and between France and Vietnam (Indochine) respectively.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, students will have
(1) gained enhanced confidence and ease in reading French. They will have practiced unpacking complex syntax and sense-making through targeted analysis of three very different narratives and styles of writing;
(2) gained a sense of what colonialism was/is and how it worked/works;
(3) developed a critical awareness of how colonialism has been depicted/memorialized in three very different francophone contexts (American, African and Asian);
(4) thought about postcolonial storytelling in French
(5) reflected on the way Francophone colonialism shaped family relationships, particularly relations with, or constructions of, mothers and fathers.

Indicative Module Content:

The module will centre on works by Maryse Condé, JMG Le Clézio, and Marguerite Duras.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The central work of the module will be deep reading of the three set texts and the assessment too will consist in critical analysis of, and critical reflection upon/discussion of specific passages. This work will gradually involve some comparative analysis of the treatment of similar issues in the three texts.
There won't be essay-type questions or lecture-type presentations as such.
Instead, all the contact hours will be dialogical reading sessions in which students will be participating actively, thus developing the reading skills that will be assessed in the mid-term and end-of trimester tests.
Of course background reading will also be encouraged, and excerpts from certain key
background material will be introduced, but the focus will be on deepening critical reading and reflective skills. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Class Test: Written test in class time Week 7 n/a Graded No


Examination: Written examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

As well as individual written feedback, there will be class feedback given verbally as well on the mid-term assessment. The critical skills assessed in both the mid-term and in the end-of-term assessments will be practiced and reflected upon constantly in class-time.