Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Dr Christopher Watkin


Previously coded FRN3708


Many people today say there is no one 'truth' that holds for all people in all places at all times, or that none of us can really be sure of life's 'meaning' in an absolute sense. But just a century ago the story would have been very different. So what happened between our great grandparents' generation and ours to revolutionise the way we think about truth and meaning? This is the question that sparks our journey through French culture in this unit. With concrete examples and clear case-studies we will walk in the shoes of film-makers, writers, artists and thinkers as they wrestle with questions of truth and meaning in the rapidly changing twentieth century world, questions that have all-too immediate implications: How should I live my life in a world without certainties? What, if anything, gives my life meaning? And what is left worth fighting for, living for, dying for?


On successful completion of this unit, students can expect to have

  1. Gained an informed knowledge of key aspects of French literature, thought and visual culture in the twentieth century as they relate to themes of truth and meaning;
  2. Improved their reading and analytical skills, and acquired skills in analysing works of visual culture in terms of recognising and understanding features specific to the themes of the unit;
  3. Gained a clearer understanding of the importance and nature of questions of truth and meaning today through having studied the evolution of those questions in France over the past century;
  4. Built skills of self-reflexive questioning in relation to the material studied;
  5. Developed an ability to relate ideas to their literary or visual expression;
  6. Developed skills in written and oral argument and presentation so as to present the analyses and understandings above.

Students taking the third-year version of this unit (ATS3077) will be expected to demonstrate in their text analysis and their essay a more explicit and sophisticated understanding of theoretical concepts germane to the analysis of the texts studied


In-class test: 30%; Written work: 70%.

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Christopher Watkin

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour seminar per week.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

French studies


At least French Studies 4 at any year level (ATS1064 or ATS2064) if taken as part of a French Studies major or minor. No prerequiste for students not taking the unit as part of a French Studies major or minor.