Narratives of the Self in Literature and Film

Module code: FR3206
Module co-ordinator: Dr Elizabeth Jones

This module is designed to introduce you to an area of French studies at the cutting edge of contemporary cultural production. We will study the different forms in which individuals articulate their own identities and life stories through writing and film, including conventional autobiography and more experimental texts. We will then consider some recent examples of narratives of the self and investigate topics such as AIDS writing and mother-daughter relationships.

By the end of the module, you'll be able to...

  • Recognise different types of contemporary autobiographical texts in literature and film
  • Apply techniques of literary and film analysis to selected life writing texts and films
  • Relate the study of these texts to wider cultural and political themes

The set texts will include:

  • Marie Cardinal, Les Mots pour le dire
  • Hervé Guibert, A l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie
  • Hervé Guibert, La Pudeur ou l’impudeur
  • Maryse Condé Le coeur à rire et à pleurer
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

Suggested background reading:

  • Paul John Eakin, Touching the World: Reference in Autobiography (Princeton University Press, 1992)
  • Philippe Lejeune, L'autobiographie en France (Colin, 1998)
  • Belle Brodzki and Celeste Schenck (eds), Life/Lines: Theorizing Women's Autobiography (Cornell University Press, 1988)
  • Michael Sheringham, French Autobiography: Devices and Desires (Clarendon Press, 1993)


This module meets in weekly two-hour seminars.


  • One seminar presentation (20%)
  • One literature review (20%)
  • One essay of 2,500-3,000 words (60%)