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Modern French Thinkers

Module Code: FR345
Module Name: Modern French Thinkers
Module Credits: 30

This module explores some of the most important ideas and significant developments in French thought from the 1750s to the late twentieth century. It addresses a selection of important works by key thinkers of this period, setting these works in their wider intellectual and historical contexts. In Term 1 we read three major landmarks of thinking about property, ownership, rootedness and belonging. Term 2 is focused on the concept of myth and mythology. This module offers crucial insights into some of the pressing concerns and key questions that continue to spark off intense public debate in France today. The module is taught by Dr Oliver Davis in Term 1 and by Dr Amanda Hopkins in Term 2.

Some of the key issues and areas addressed include:

  • conceptions of property and ownership
  • ideas of cultural and national rootedness and belonging
  • social equality and inequality
  • the changing place of thinkers and social and political thought in France
  • conceptions of freedom and dilemmas of constraint
  • the relation between individual and society
  • sexual identity and sexual difference
  • gender and politics, and gender politics
  • the interaction of philosophy, language and psychoanalysis
  • modernism, postmodernism, structuralism, feminism

Core texts

Term 1
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Qu’est-ce que la propriété? (1840), Livre de Poche edition, pp. 285-440. Please note this edition can also be found with a plain cover featuring blue squares and lettering slightly at a diagonal.
  • Simone Weil, L’Enracinement (1949), Gallimard/Folio edition, 'Les besoins de l'âme', pp. 9-57 and pp. 246 ('Depuis 1789...') - 380. Please note this edition can also be found with a cover featuring a painting of a faceless woman in a factory landscape.
Term 2

Please ensure you buy the specified editions.

Assessment method

You may choose to be examined in the following ways:
100% formal three-hour examination
OR
100% assessed work, consisting of TWO assessed essays, each of 4,000-4,500 words in length
OR
50% formal two-hour examination plus 50% ONE assessed essay of 4,000-4,500 words in length.