French: The Diary of a Teenager

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It might seem that with the popularity of social media and the ‘selfie’, people are thinking and talking about themselves more than ever before. Certainly, it’s what some social commentators would have us believe! But in fact, if we look back in time across Europe, we can see that writing about the self is nothing new. And nor are the controversies surrounding it. In this module, we will focus on a particular form of writing about the self: diary writing. And we will use a particular diary as an example: a French-language diary written in the late nineteenth century by Marie Bashkirtseff, a young woman living in Paris. We’ll study short excerpts from a sequence of three diary entries she wrote at the age of eighteen, exploring what they tell us about life in France at this time, and reflecting on the language she uses. The module includes a brief introduction to the history of autobiographical writing in France, three separate but interlinked activities, a conclusion, and answers to the language exercises, along with suggestions for further reading.

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