FR20050 Introduction à l'âge des Lumières (18e siècle)

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module proposes a discovery of the Enlightenment as it emerged in eighteenth-century pre-revolutionary France, through its literature and via the history of ideas. Two or three literary texts will be chosen for scrutiny from amongst key thinkers and writers of the century. Authors studied in the past include Françoise de Graffigny, Isabelle de Charrière, Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Denis Diderot. Each writer brings a different vision of life and progress to the text, but all try to make sense of the complex world in which they live, against an exciting, if challenging, historical backdrop. The Enlightenment outlook on the world is one of constant questioning and challenging of the status quo. As an ensemble, the two or three works studied will offer an insight into a key historical moment where the individual is goaded into thought, reaction and responsibility in life, with a few inevitable mishaps along the way.

In 2020-21 the core texts under scrutiny are Voltaire, 'Candide' and Diderot 'La Religieuse'.
Core texts MUST be purchased in the recommended editions from International Books

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students should have:
1. A core introduction to key French Enlightenment thinkers and writers.
2. Familiarity with key eighteenth-century works in French.
3. Introduction to, or revision of, critical analysis skills, including new ways of analysing narrative.
4. The skill to discuss the Enlightenment in the context of contemporary texts and modern critics via short textual extracts (using critical analysis).
5. Confidence to read, analyse and engage with texts, ideas and textual excerpts from eighteenth-century France in order to situate them within the framework of the Enlightenment.

Indicative Module Content:

Voltaire's 'Candide' is a great starting point for students, simply because it is a perennial point of reference for any francophone person across the world. This is transcultural exchange at its richest.

The two or three selected texts will be available from International Books in the weeks before this module begins.
READ THEM EARLY to gain maximum value from your module lecture and seminar class time.

For 2020-21, the core texts are:
Voltaire, 'Candide'
Diderot 'La Religieuse'
Every student MUST get the Diderot text in the agreed editions, available from (they will post)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
--Lectures: background information and text-specific analysis, supported by online material on BrightSpace
--Seminars: small-group teaching that hones in on details/short excerpts
--Group work: active development and practice within peer group of critical analysis skills (core literary skill)
--Reflective learning: online BrightSpace postings where students are invited to step out of the text to respond to short textual extracts or illustrations and to reflect on their own learning processes

Please note for autumn 2020-21 due to COVID-19:
As the learning objectives of classes might be compromised by social distancing and the wearing of facemasks, all classes in this module (lectures and seminar groups) will now take place online, and are scheduled according to the university timetable. Active participation in these classes is required. In addition to that, full engagement will material and tasks made accessible in Brightspace is expected every week - students will update their own learning diary online weekly. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

In this module, students are expected to read literary texts in French.

It presupposes that students have passed Level One French language module FR10070 or attained an equivalent standard of language competence (Common European Framework Level B1). If in doubt, they should contact the module convenor.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
FR10070 - French Grammar & Expression

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Critical Analysis B (including plan) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Critical analysis A (including Plan) Week 7 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: BrightSpace Postings Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive personalised feedback on first two individual assessment elements to assist them in making progress in 1) the preparation of final written work [critical analysis draft plans (contextualisation; form/content; synthesis] 2) the standard of their own written work [crtiical analysis: content/form analysis, writing skills, argument shaping] and 3) interpretation of the excerpts and/or texts being studied [context; content; themes; style; ideas]