2023-2024 / LROM0110-1

Critical theories of literature


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in ancient and modern languages and literatures (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in French and Romance languages and literatures : French as a foreign language (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in French and Romance languages and literatures : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in French and Romance languages and literatures : general (60 ECTS)5 crédits 


Justine Huppe

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

What is the point of theory? Do we really need theory to read? Is literary theory anything other than a way for literary studies to give itself an air of scientificity, to compete with philosophy, or to fuel polemics that, in the 21st century, often leave us unmoved?

The challenge of this course is to show that literary theory is a living and reflexive space, crucial to equip us when questions arise about texts, their production, their meaning and their teaching.

If time permits, the course should be subdivided as follows:

- Introduction: What is the point of theory?

- I. What is literature?

- II. Can we dissociate the work from the author?

- III. Does fiction build worlds?

- IV. Does reading make us better?

- V. Should we read (and teach) everything?

Each of these five themes will be presented in lectures, alternating with more practical discussions (based on controversies or proposed topics for consideration).


Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The course introduces students to major issues in contemporary literary theory through polemical questions. 

At the end of the course, the student will be able to

- identify the crucial theoretical oppositions on a given issue (the author, literature, fiction, empathy and identification, the canon, etc.).

- to bring different theoretical frameworks into dialogue in order to analyse questions of literary theory with finesse and rigour

- to appropriate a body of scholarship and relate it to observed cases


Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Basic knowledge of the main concepts of the theory of language and literary theory.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Approximately ten class sessions, alternating between ex-cathedra classes and (participatory) discussion sessions based on a common reading => certain moments will require the presence and active participation of everyone.

Recommended or required readings

Recommended reading:
Antoine Compagnon, Le Démon de la théorie, Paris, Seuil, 1998; rééd. coll. "Points".

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Written work / report

Additional information:

Written work OR open course written examination (optional).

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

For the evaluation, it is a choice: EITHER the written exam; OR the written work


Justine Huppe

My office is located in building A2, on the 4th floor, at the very end of the corridor of the French Literature Department (second last door on the left).

Association of one or more MOOCs