FR30050 Proust

Academic Year 2020/2021

In this module we will study Marcel Proust's Du côté de chez Swann, the first volume of his great novel A la recherche du temps perdu, perhaps the most important work of French literature of the twentieth century. We shall explore Proust's treatment of the way individuals perceive and represent reality both in the process of living and in the creation of art. Seminars focus on close reading of major passages, on the basis of which key themes -- temporality, memory, subjectivity, artistic creation -- will be discussed. NB The course pays close attention to the fabric of the French text and thus assessment includes critical commentary. Reading the work in the original French is absolutely indispensable. Previous study of the French novel (eg Mme Bovary) is very strongly recommended. Students must have made a good start on the text before the beginning of the course. Please purchase the Gallimard Folio edition. Supporting your reading with an audiobook (see is highly recommended.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On assiduous engagement with and successful completion of this module (including regular attendance at lectures and seminars) students will have:
-- acquired a sense of the shape of A la recherche... from study of its opening volume;
-- developed your capacity to read extensively as well as in depth ('close reading') in complex French, with great benefit to language proficiency;
-- practised identifying connections and continuities across a significant corpus;
-- developed your ability to relate key passages of the text to major questions treated in class (subjectivity, temporality, the role and redemptive power of art and specifically of style and metaphor);
-- engaged critically with Proust's reflection's on these questions;
-- synthesised these skills of sophisticated literary reading into structured analyses of passages from the text as well as into essay form.

Indicative Module Content:

A study of Volume 1 of A la recherche du temps perdu (volume title: Du côté de chez Swann), tracing Proust's treatment of major themes including subjectivity, temporality (personal and historical), art (its role and redemptive power), style (especially metaphor/analogy).

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
A weekly seminar working through some of the volume's most important passages, accompanied by weekly lectures on major themes. NB the whole of the first two 'books' of Volume 1, "Combray" and "Un amour de Swann", are to be read.

Teaching delivery:
Given the extent to which social distancing and the wearing of facemasks would compromise teaching and learning on this module, all classes (lectures and seminars) will take place online at the scheduled time according to the university timetable. Active participation in these classes is required. This includes full engagement with preparation tasks and materials made available on Brightspace. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Pass in FR20020 (French Language II a) and FR20040 (French Language II b)

Learning Recommendations:

Level 2 French literature modules, specifically study of 19th- or 18th- century novel.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
FR20020 - French Language II a, FR20040 - French Language II b

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: essay question or critical commentary (1500-2000 words max) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Essay: 1500 words (10% tolerance): critical commentary on set extract from 'Combray' Week 8 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, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual written feedback accompanying returned assignments. Global feedback on assignments in final lecture.

Primary text:
Proust, Marcel, Du côté de chez Swann (Paris: Gallimard/Folio)

Secondary reading:
A detailed bibliography of secondary reading will be distributed at the start of the module.