31028 - French Literature 1

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should know the general outline of literary history. They should be able to read, understand and translate texts from French into Italian and they should also be acquainted with the methods and analytical tools they need to interpret the works of the main authors, contextualising them within their cultural and historical period.

Course contents

Students will be offered an overview of XXth century French literature, with a focus on different forms of "writing the self": autobiography, autobiographical novel, autofiction, récits de filiation between the end of the XXth and the beginning of the XXIth century. The theoretical aspect of the matter will be based on texts by Philippe Lejeune, Dominique Viart and others. Students will also be offered some elements of narratology, based on Gérard Genette's Discours du récit. We will analyse a series of excerpts from works published in the XXth century and in the very beginning of XXIth. Students will read entirely in French two books within a list.
The teacher will refer to the history of literature, but students have to prepare by themselves the manual.



- André Gide, Si le grain ne meurt

- Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mots

- Albert Camus, Le Premier Homme

- Georges Perec, W ou le souvenir d'enfance

- Patrick Modiano, Dora Bruder

- Doan Bui, Le Silence de mon père

· a dossier with photocopies taken from these works will soon be soon available at Ecrire and on line)

For the 20th century literary history, students have to study one of these books:
- Lionello Sozzi (ed.), Storia europea della letteratura francese, II. Dal Settecento all'età contemporaneaONLY the chapter on XXth Century, p. 237-409, Torino, Einaudi, "Piccola biblioteca Einaudi", 2013, ISBN: 9788806216108)
- OR Michèle Touret (dir.), Histoire de la littérature française au XXe siècle, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2 vol. 2008 (only the selected pages you can find at Ecrire) 

As for the critical, theoretical and methodological ressources, students will study:

  • Philippe Lejeune, L'autobiographie en France (1971), Paris, Colin, "Cursus", 2003 (only some chapters)
  • Philippe Lejeune, Le pacte autobiographique, Paris, Gallimard, "Folio", 1996 (only some chapters)  
  • part of Gérard Genette, Le discours du récit (1972), Paris, éditions du Seuil, "Points Essais", 2007, p. 11-274, ISBN: 275780538X
  • a dossier of photocopies prepared by the teacher, which critical essays by Philippe Viart and others   

Primary texts: students have to read entirely 2 of the following books: M. Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu, t. I, parte 1, Combray; D. Chraïbi, Le Passé simple; A. Baillon, Histoire d'une Marie; N. Sarraute, Enfance; A. Begag, Le gone du Chaâba; A. Ernaux, La Place; P. Modiano, Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier ; P. Modiano, Un pedigree.

Students who can't attend the courses should also read (all copies on AMS Campus):

- P.-L. Rey, Le Premier Homme d'Albert Camus, Paris, Gallimard, "Foliothèque", 2008 (part of)
- Anne Roche présente W ou le souvenir d'enfance de Georges Perec, Paris, Gallimard, "Foliothèque", 1997 (part of)
- Joël Dubloscard, Dora Bruder de Patrick Modiano, Paris, Hatier, "Profil d'une oeuvre", 2006 (part of)

Teaching methods

The course will be held mainly in lecture form. The teacher starts explaining in French, then repeats in Italian. Later in the year, the part in Italian can be reduced, if students agree.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of two parts: a written test in Italian (in French for those who want it) and an oral test (mainly in Italian, but with at least a question in French). Those who don't pass the written test don't have access to the oral test. The oral examination is normally held in 3-4 days after the written test. The final mark is not a mathematical average of the two tests.
The written test consists of a series of 5-8 open-ended questions concerning the topics of the course and the XXth century literary history students prepare by themselves with the help of the manual (Teroni or Viart). At least one of the questions involves the comment of an excerpt among those that have been analyzed by the teacher. The two tests should verify the descriptive knowledge of the topics analysed during the course, the ability to contextualize the cultural and literary phenomena and to identify the originality of the texts studied. They also assess the ability of critical synthesis of the bibliography, as well as students' expressive properties, in terms of accuracy and appropriateness of language. 
Students who are able to demonstrate a wide and systematic understanding of the issues covered during the lessons, are able to use these critically and who master the field-specific language of the discipline will be given a mark of excellence. Those students who demonstrate a mnemonic knowledge of the subject with a more superficial analytical ability and ability to synthesize, a correct command of the language but not always appropriate, will be given a ‘fair' mark. A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability that is not always appropriate will be rewarded with a pass mark or just above a pass mark. Students who demonstrate gaps in their knowledge of the subject matter, inappropriate language use, lack of familiarity with the literature in the programme bibliography will not be given a pass mark.

Teaching tools

Power-point projection, photocopies, documents shared on line (Insegnamenti On Line).

Office hours

See the website of Maria Chiara Gnocchi