French Visual History (MLF1121)

StaffProfessor Melissa Percival - Lecturer
Professor David Jones - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Through this module you will develop critical tools for analysing images in France in different historical periods. You will engage with a range of perspectives about the role of the visual in different cultural and historical contexts. Topics addressed may include the Château of Versailles and the absolutist monarchy of Louis XIV caricatures of the Revolutionary era, Paris as an artistic capital in the nineteeenth century; street art from May 1968 and the major buildings and structures commissioned by president François Mitterrand in the late twentieth century.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. appreciate and explain some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates informing the study of visual history
  • 2. analyse coherently the form and content of particular artworks and visual culture representations over different historical periods and cultural contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. research, present and evaluate relevant visual materials from contrasting contexts
  • 4. interrogate texts, artworks, images and representations, and relate them to the cultural contexts in which they operate

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. construct a coherent, substantiated, written argument in clear and correct prose, demonstrating appropriate research and bibliographic skills
  • 6. demonstrate effective oral presentation skills, working effectively with others to engage an audience

Syllabus plan

The module consists of a series of lecture and seminars. You will be introduced to a range of visual artefacts and the historical and cultural contexts in which they originated, as well as critical tools for assessing the place of the visual in French culture. The artefacts studied range from 17th century to the present day and include key examples of architecture, fine art, prints, posters and graffiti..

 An indicative week by week syllabus runs as follows:

    WEEK 1: What are French visual histories?
    WEEKS 2-4: Ancien Régime to Revolution
    WEEKS 5-8: Paris in the 19th century
    WEEKS 9-11: Modern visual cultures

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities5Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities1Tutorial
Guided independent study 134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay500 words1-6Oral and written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1002000 Words1-5Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-5August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading

Colin Jones, Cambridge Illustrated History of France (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

Anthony Sutcliffe, Paris: An Architectural History (1993)

Plus selected readings from texts listed below. These will be listed week-by-week on ELE.

Further reading

Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957)

Francis Frascina...[et al.]. Modernity and Modernism : French Painting in the Nineteenth Century (1993).

David Pinkney, Napoleon III and the Rebuilding of Paris

Andrew Ayers, The Architecture of Paris (Edition Axel Menges, 2003)

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (1999)

Berger, Robert W., Versailles: The Château of Louis XIV, College Art Association by Pennsylvania State University Press, 1985 [available as an electronic resource through Exeter University Library].

T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).

Dunlop, Ian, Versailles (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1956).

Marin, Louis, Le Portrait du roi (Paris: Minuit, 1981).

Pierre Nora, Les Lieux de mémoire (Gallimard, 1984)

Yaari, Rethinking the French City: Architecture, Dwelling, and Display After 1968 (Rodopi, 2008)


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Key words search

French; Visual Culture; Art History