Reading French Literature


The course considers a range of French literature from the sixteenth to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – poetry, fiction and drama – focusing on love and death. It traces these dual literary themes through courtly love, the erotic passion of Charles Baudelaire to the humanist love of Paul Eluard. Eluard and other war poets used literature to assert love in the face of the horrors of the world wars and their writing formed part of the French resistance to fascism. Similarly, Eugène Ionesco’s play, La Leçon, stands in resistance to totalitarianism in its many forms.

Although the texts are varied in genre and technique, all form part of the understanding of love in the period of their writing. While some explore how love and death are intertwined, and how literature may resist the death of love and the death of the writer, others show how love may stand against the death and suffering caused by war and totalitarianism.

The course will introduce you to some of the technical aspects of French versification, provide a framework for reading and analysing French literature, as well as strengthening cultural knowledge, vocabulary and fluency in French at an appropriate Stage 2 level. Taught in French.


Coursework + exam

For full course information see the Digital Course Outline for FRENCH 241.

Digital Course Outlines are refreshed in November for the following year. Digital Course Outlines for courses to be offered for the first time may be published slightly later

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




Eugene Ionesco, La Leçon

All other reading material will be on CANVAS..


Coursework + exam


FRENCH 241: 15 points


15 points from FRENCH 204, 269, 304