French Language and Literature

visiting students

Students who are reading French at their home institution can take courses in translation and literature at St Edmund Hall. Visiting students will usually be taught alongside second-year undergraduates. A translation exercise will be sent to students before they begin the course. In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to place students in the first or final year cohorts. Visiting students are encouraged to attend relevant lectures at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.

Translation into English: Major; second-year undergraduate cohort.

Translation into French: Major; second-year undergraduate cohort.

These courses involve students work together and independently, translating a selection of literary and journalistic texts from French into English and/or vice versa. All students taking translation will be expected to learn vocabulary as relevant to the course. They will submit at least four pieces of written work per term.

Suggested introductory reading for translation:

Susan Bassnett, Translation Studies (New York, NY: Routledge, 2002)

David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: The Amazing Adventure of Translation (London: Penguin, 2012)

Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (2nd ed.). (Abingdon, Oxon, U.K.: Routledge, 2008)

Literature: a huge choice and range of options are available. These include:

This paper will introduce you to the techniques of close reading through the study of four short works:

(i) Montaigne, ‘Des Cannibales’ from Essais, vol. 1 (recommended bilingual edition by M. Tarpinian,  Ellipses, 1995)

(ii) Racine, Phèdre (recommended edition by Raymond Picard, Gallimard ‘Folio’, 2015)

(iii) Verlaine, Romances sans paroles (recommended edition by Arnaud Bernadet, GF-Flammarion, 2018).

(iv) N’Diaye, Papa doit manger (recommended edition: Paris: Minuit, 2003)

This paper introduces you to three narrative texts written between the C18th and the C20th: Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses, Sand, Indiana, and Condé, Traversée de la mangrove.

This paper will introduce you to four twentieth- and twenty-first century film directors. In your essay writing you will be able to engage with their ideas and with their particular way of realising them. The prescribed films are: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Le Corbeau (1942) Jean-Luc Godard, Vivre sa vie (1962) Agnès Varda, Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000) Bertrand Blier, Les valseuses (1974).

This paper will introduce you to three twentieth-century literary critics. In your essay writing you will be able to engage with their ideas about literature and with their particular way of expressing them. You will be encouraged to apply these ideas to your own reading of texts. The prescribed texts are: Sartre, Qu’est-ce que la littérature? (Gallimard, ‘Folio’) [Sections I and II only] Barthes, Critique et vérité (Seuil) Todorov, ‘La notion de littérature’, ‘L’origine des genres’, ‘Les deux principes du récit’, ‘Introduction au vraisemblable’ in La Notion de littérature et autres essais (Seuil).

This period sees French culture developing as a dominant force in Europe and in the world. The period embraces major cultural movements (e.g. Renaissance humanism, baroque, classicism, and the Enlightenment), genres such as tragedy, poetry, comedy, and the novel, and such major writers as Rabelais, Marguerite de Navarre, Ronsard, Du Bellay, Labé and Montaigne from the sixteenth century; Corneille, Pascal, Molière, Lafayette, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, and Racine from the seventeenth century; Montesquieu, Diderot, and Voltaire from the eighteenth-century. The object in studying this paper is to explore texts not only for their individual merits, but also in relation to each other within the broad framework of the period’s cultural developments. You can follow the development of literary genres: drama, poetry or the novel. You can explore thematic similarities between texts, such as the treatment of social class or gender, attitudes to authority, responses to criminality, representations of the self. You can also consider texts for their contribution to the history of ideas, such as political and social reform, philosophical trends, religious faith and scepticism. There are no prescribed texts or authors; you are positively encouraged to develop your own interests and to read authors and explore topics of your choice.

This paper provides an opportunity to study a wide range of literary and cultural developments set against the background of the complex political and social developments which have formed modern France. The paper is not, however, seen as primarily historical in content or approach. It is possible to look at literary and intellectual developments in terms of the personal achievement of individual writers, as well as exploring larger movements and schools of writing such as the Revolution, Romanticism, Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism, Surrealism, Existentialism, Theatre of the Absurd or the nouveau roman. It is also possible to trace developments within individual genres (including less familiar genres from the récit to autobiography) and to consider the impact of non-mainstream groups, such as women, gay, and Francophone writers. The structure of the paper encourages the application of a range of theoretical approaches. Because of the sheer bulk and variety of the material which the paper potentially covers, the works studied will vary according to choices made in consultation with tutors. It is quite normal to limit coverage to a number of complementary topics in one or more parts of the period. In addition to approaches based on literary movements, possible topics include drame bourgeois, the epistolary novel, first-person fiction, Romantic drama, literature and the visual arts, literature and music, gender and writing, literary commitment, post-modern narrative, non-metropolitan Francophone writing, the representation of the city, the literary reflection of national identity, cultural marginalization, and AIDS writing.

These include from the Early Modern period: Rabelais, Montaigne, Molière, Pascal, Lafayette, and Racine; and from the Modern period: Baudelaire, Flaubert, Mallarmé, Beckett, Barthes and Djebar.
Close study of any TWO of these authors constitutes a primary (8 hours); any ONE counts as a secondary (4 hours); students will be expected to write two or three substantial pieces of written work for a secondary, and between four and six for a primary.

For more information, including a range of further papers – classified as Paper XII – a selection of which are offered each year, see this PDF.

Visiting Students

More information about becoming a Visiting Student at St Edmund Hall – including finance, accommodation and how to apply

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