Contemporary French Visual Culture (MLF3066)

StaffProfessor David Jones - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesA level-2 HUMS module  
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to introduce students to a range of texts and other cultural artefacts from contemporary French visual culture. All of these pose questions of genre classification and narratorial / spectator positions and require that students critically assess assumptions in viewing and reading. The module aims to foster a range of critical responses to autobiographical projects and memorial practices in a range of media, including text, photography, installation and performance art. Gallery visits are encouraged, and we discuss art institutions, galleries and archives.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of debates surrounding representation of body and self in the modern period
  • 2. Show an understanding of the significance of artefacts studied in the broader cultural context in which they were produced.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. After initial input from the course tutor(s), apply and evaluate critical approaches to the material under analysis independently.
  • 4. Argue at length and in detail about an aspect of the topic, supporting the argument with evidence from the text and with opinions from secondary literature.
  • 5. Use a range of appropriate critical terminology, applying it to independently researched material as well as to material introduced by the course tutor.
  • 6. Access and use critically printed and, where appropriate, electronic learning resources identified as useful by the course tutor; find independently and evaluate critically other relevant resources.
  • 7. Analyse artefacts, showing awareness of their relation to the social, historical and generic context in which they were written, and present the results orally / in writing.
  • 8. Use available library and electronic resources to investigate a given aspect of the subject, and make recommendations for further study to the rest of the group
  • 9. Using recommended bibliographical tools, present a critical bibliography giving a balanced overview of an aspect of the subject.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Negotiate individual assessment tasks and/or topics with course tutor(s), identifying own areas of strength and interest.
  • 11. Undertake independent research on the basis of a taught course.
  • 12. Manage own learning time and learning activities with minimal guidance from course tutor(s).
  • 13. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of a large body of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument of some complexity.
  • 14. Present a cogent and sustained argument orally or in writing, in English, on an aspect of the subject of the student's own choosing, and selecting appropriate methods of exposition.
  • 15. Using bibliographical material provided, select, plan and carry out a programme of study leading to an essay on a chosen topic, to a specified length and deadline.
  • 16. Demonstrate ability to combine a variety of IT skills in researching and reporting on a topic.

Syllabus plan

Weeks 1-3: Introduction to French visual culture; installation art and the museum context

Weeks 4-8: Photography, performance and installation

Weeks 9-12: Trauma, video installation, archiving and the internet


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 activities10Seminars. You will need to prepare for the topic and present on a given topic on at least one occasion.
Scheduled learning and teaching activities5Lectures
Office Hour/Conclusion1
Guided independent study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative essay750 wordsAllFeedback sheet, feedback session

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
Essay1003,000 wordsAllFeedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssayAllRef/Def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Simon Donger, Simon Shepherd (eds.), Orlan: A Hybrid Body of Artworks (London: Routledge, 2010) or

Orlan, De l'art charnel au baiser de l'artiste (Paris : J.-M. Place, 1997)

Sophie Calle, The Address Book (New York: Siglio Press, 2012)

-Suite Vénitienne ((New York: Siglio Press, 2015)

Gumpert, Boltanski (Flammarion, 1994)

NB: it is not necessary to purchase the Gumpert title. Some materials will also be provided on Calle and Orlan. You should aim to buy a copy of the Orlan and Calle texts.




Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Kolbowski, Hiroshima mon amour

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Rebecca J. DeRoo, The Museum Establishment and Contemporary Art: The Politics of Artistic Display in France after 1968 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)


Kate Ince, Orlan: Millennial Female (Oxford: Berg, 2000)


Graham Clarke, The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History (Oxford: 1997).


Deutsche, Hiroshima after Iraq (New York: Columbia, 2010)


James Putnam, Art and artifact : the museum as medium (London : Thames & Hudson, 2001).


Jens Hauser (ed.), Sk-interfaces: Exploding Borders - Creating Membranes in Art, Technology and Society (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008)



Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

French; visual; culture; face; body; installation; illness; trauma; autobiography; video; archive; internet