Norms and Margins in French Cinema

Module code: FR3140
Module co-ordinator: Dr Marion Krauthaker

This module focuses on the representations of norms and margins in French cinema. You will explore different types of marginality – social, ethnic, cultural, religious, political, and sexual – through the study of five films and a series of marginal characters. Each narrative will be an opportunity to explore the mechanisms of exclusion and to appreciate the power of dominant figures and structures within contemporary French society. Key concepts such as norms, codes, conflict, resistance, and transgression will be examined in order to enhance your understanding of the dynamics and articulation of alterity. These figures of otherness will be read as an ideal that transcends social expectations and constitutes new hybrid forms of identity.

At the end of the module, you will be able to...

  • Discuss in detail the key themes drawn from the films studied in relation to the periods and contexts in which they were produced
  • Apply key concepts and techniques in the analysis of narrative and stylistic aspects of the films studied and how they relate to the codes and themes of French cinema
  • Give evidence of personal research and individual analysis of key sequences
  • Make meaningful contrasts and comparisons between the films and sequences studied
  • Argue at length about a key theme with evidence from the text and support from secondary sources


All seminar sessions will be interactive with short lectures, flipped classrooms, directed reading and viewing, and student-led seminars. You will be expected to participate actively in the analysis of the set films by means of discussions, personal research, short presentations, and participation in various group tasks.  


  • Five 150-word blog film reviews (20%)
  • Sequence analysis group presentation, 15 minutes (30%)
  • Essay, 2,000-2,500 words (50%)

Texts and resources

Recommended reading on film analysis

  • Bordwell and Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 3rd edition or later (McGraw-Hill, 1990)
  • Lacey, Introduction to Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
  • Monaco, How to Read a Film: Movies, Media and Beyond (OUP, 2009)
  • Roberts and Wallis, Introducing Film (Arnold, 2001)

Introductory reading on French cinema

  • Austin, Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction, 2nd edn (Manchester University Press, 2009)
  • Mazdon, France on Film (Wallflower Press, 2001)
  • Powrie, French Cinema in the 1990s (Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Reader and Powrie, French Cinema: A Student’s Guide (Arnold, 2002)
  • Temple and Witt (eds), The French Cinema Book (BFI, 2004)