Gender and Power in Contemporary France

Module code: FR3208
Module co-ordinator: Dr Nicole Fayard

This module is taught in French.

Feminist theory and practice are transforming the world. In this module we will study how such ongoing transformations have affected French society by looking at the changing position of women and men in contemporary France. We will examine political, cultural, and literary debates around gender issues, exploring how France has dealt with the volatile issues surrounding women's representation in the political sphere. Other topics will include women's visibility and agency in the areas of work, the family, language and cultural production, the body, sexuality, and masculinity.

The set texts are likely to include:

  • Simone de Beauvoir, Le Deuxième sexe (Gallimard, 1976)
  • Margaret Maruani (ed), Femme, genre et sociétés (La Découverte, 2005)
  • Virginie Despentes, Mordre au travers (J’ai Lu, 2005)
  • Annie Ernaux, La femme gelée (Gallimard, 1987)

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • Acquired a deeper understanding of the concept of gender and the sociological and political debates surrounding the changing positions of women and men since the Second World War
  • Understood and explored, both theoretically and critically, issues of gender in relation to selected texts
  • Explored your own views on gender and theories about gender through textual analysis, group presentations, essays, and seminar discussions


  • 12 hours of lectures
  • 8 hours of seminars
  • 130 hours of guided independent study


  • Small-group presentation, including a write-up of 1,500 words (30%) 
  • Bibliographical review, 700 words (10%)
  • Essay, 2,500-3,000 words (60%)