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Les Mémoires de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale en France: théorie, littérature, cinéma


Admission requirements

BA French Language and Culture or BA in another modern language.

Students from other tracks of Literary Studies or Media Studies are welcome provided they have a good reading and listening proficiency in French. In that case, the oral presentation and paper will be in English or Dutch. Please contact the teacher beforehand for admission.


This (French taught) course is about the multifaceted French memory of Worldwar II and its representations in literature and cinema. As a theoretical basis, we will study different kinds of memory: testimonial memory, memory and trauma, second generation memory or ‘postmemory’. Starting with a novel by an eyewitness (Nemirowsky) , we will see how soldiers, civilians and Jews did not share the same experience of the German invasion in May 1940. With her famous film Hiroshima mon amour, Marguerite Duras was one of the first to dare speak about French Collaboration. The film was the start of a less idealized picture of the French role during Worldwar II. From the 1970s on, Vichy and Collaboration were no longer taboo subjects (Modiano, Ronde de nuit). The second half of this course will focus on a specific memory, that of nazi concentration camps. Here too, there is not one single memory, but several ones. We will first study the narrative of Auschwitz survivor Charlotte Delbo, then see how this first generation memory compares with that of postwar descendants of Jewish survivors, for whom memory becomes a borrowed memory or ‘postmemory’ (Modiano, Grumberg). The course ends with Maillet’s contemporary fiction about the Black memory of the Holocaust, associated with the memory of slavery. A key question all along this course is how memory through literary fiction and film differs from current forms of memory.

Course objectives

  • thorough knowledge and insight into the studied literary texts and films

  • knowledge of the historical and cultural context of the works studied

  • knowledge and insight into current theories of cultural memory

  • the ability to do independent research in this field, using theory and secondary literature

  • ability to analyze a relevant subject of one’s choice and to present one’s findings in an oral presentation and written assignments

  • for students of the Educative Master: ability to apply the acquired knowledge to the practise of teaching.

  • ability to share analytical and theoretical arguments during class discussion.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar

Assessment method

  • Midterm assignment (1500-2000 words): 20 %

  • Oral presentation : 20 %

  • Final paper (approx. 5000 words) : 60 %

  • Additional requirement: the grade of the final paper should be at least 5,5.


Only for the final paper.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Charlotte Delbo, Aucun de nous ne reviendra (Poche Minuit)

  • Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour (Gallimard Folio)

  • Jean-Claude Grumberg, L’atelier (Etonnants Classiques ou une autre édition)

  • Michèle Maillet, L’étoile noire (Pocket)

  • Patrick Modiano : La ronde de nuit (Gallimard Folio) et Dora Bruder (Gallimard Folio).

  • Irène Nemirowsky, Suite française (Gallimard Folio ou Folio Plus Classiques) (nous lirons uniquement la partie « Tempête de juin »)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Attention, dans Nemirovsky, Suite francaise, lire la partie « Tempête de juin » avant le début des cours.