The City: Representations in 20th Century French Literature and Visual Culture

Languages & Cultures, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

College of Arts and Law


Code 20513

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester Taught across both

Module description

The City has been the major site where modernity has been played out in the last 150 years or so. The profound changes which transformed the conditions of daily life and our understanding of the world are inseparable from the ways in which cities expanded and became centres of political and economic power as well as magnets for artists and writers. Poets, novelists, artists, photographers and filmmakers have continued to regard the city as a major source of fascination and inspiration. Their work helps us to understand how we think and imagine urban space and its changes.
This module studies some key representations of the city in French literature and visual culture in the 20th century. The course predominantly considers prose texts but several films are also studied, as well as extracts drawn from poetry, art and photography - the exact programme will vary from year to year. Following a broadly chronological order, the course seeks to highlight recurring themes and ways of thinking the city such as: modernity and postmodernity, mystery and chance (and their link to surrealism) memory, identity, women in the city.