In answering any of the questions below, make sure that you both:
1. frame your answer with reference to existing historical scholarship
2. develop your answer by analyzing texts, images, and/or objects from the time, which you present as evidence in support of your over-arching argument.
PLEASE NOTE: When I say "frame your answer with reference to existing historical scholarship," I do not mean "paraphrase Popkin for four pages and then add a few details from some other source." Rather, I expect you to have read Popkin (or Cobban, or some other survey text) as "background," in order to get a sense of the so-called "basic facts."
The links under each question take you to the weeks of this course that will probably be especially relevant. (You may, of course, draw on other parts of the course--and if you do it well, you will get extra points for creativity!)
Use the books and articles listed under each week's "Further Readings" to get a sense of the main debates that historians have about those facts. [Example: everybody admits that the German armies took six weeks to invade France in spring 1940, but some would see this as a failure of the French political system whereas others might term it a strictly military defeat and still others would point to the slow pace of French industrial recovery after the First World War. You need to decide which one of those arguments you find most compelling and you need to indicate why you find it persuasive.] The suggested readings, as well as the links to on-line materials, should help guide you to relevant sources. Feel free to use primary or secondary sources other than those I have listed--but remember that Wikipedia (for instance) is not a work of serious scholarship. The topics listed below all ask specific questions: you should try to answer the question, not narrate or describe events.
For good pointers on how to assess a website's reliability, see here.
For further guidance on writing, see here.
For specific instructions on foot/endnotes and bibliographies, see here.
You may also want to consult the History Department’s writing guidelines for J-300 and J-400 courses.
As a general "rule of thumb," you should aim to consult at least 3-4 secondary sources (history books or articles) and an equal number of primary sources (texts or images produced at the time) in writing your paper.
If you have your own idea for a paper topic, I would be happy to talk with you about it. You must let me know
in advance if you are planning to write on something other than the questions below.
Whatever you do, remember to give your paper A TITLE!
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY OF THIS--please come talk with me or send me an e-mail. I try to answer my e-mail within twenty-four hours but please do not expect me to write the paper for you (that is, answer questions of the form "What should my paper say?") or deal with last minute crises caused by poor planning on your part.
Policy on Academic Honesty: Every paper must include consistently formatted endnotes or footnotes and a full bibliography. Ignorance of scholarly reference form is no excuse and papers submitted without full references will be returned unmarked. Plagiarism and misuse of sources constitute intellectual theft and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you have any doubts or concerns, consult the College website's page on avoiding plagiarism. REMEMBER: You must provide a reference for anything in your essay that is neither "common knowledge" nor your OWN original argument.
Policy on Deadlines and Extensions: Extensions to the deadline will only be granted in the case of serious illness (with medical documentation), bereavement, or other grave personal circumstances. Students facing such circumstances should notify me as soon as possible. In the absence of any valid excuse, late papers will be marked down 1/3 of a letter grade for each day late (e.g., submitted one day late, a “B” paper will receive a “B-“). I am always willing to accept papers early, if that helps you to manage your overall workload.
1. In the 1930s, the German Jewish critic, Walter Benjamin, wrote an essay in which he called Paris the "Capital of the Nineteenth Century" (available in the volume of his writing entitled, Reflections, and in his Arcades Project). What did he mean by this, and do you think it tells us more about the nineteenth century or about the 1930s?
Introduction Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century Culture and Politics between the Wars
2. In what ways has the legal status and/or cultural significance of women in European France been comparable to that of men from the overseas colonies and departments? How have their experiences been different?
State and Nation Republicanism and the Third Republic Culture and Politics between the Wars "Events" in Algeria
3. Compare and contrast the political and cultural impact of the 1940 Fall of France with that of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.
Franco-Prussian War and the Commune The Fall of France Resistance and Collaboration
4. Before he wrote his open letter, "J'Accuse!," Emile Zola was known as a novelist. How does his status as an author of fictions contribute to his intervention in the Dreyfus Affair, and how did this affect notions of intellectual expertise?
The Dreyfus Affair Thirty Modern Years Algeria and the Intellectuals
5. What has been the relation of cultural innovation in modern France to social and/or political change? In addressing this question, you may want to consider elements of popular culture (consumerism, fashion, media) as well as the “high arts” (painting, literature, etc.).
Romantics, Realists, Socialists Mass Culture and the Modern City Thirty Modern Years
6. Since it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense screened The Battle of Algiers in 2003 (see here), it has been tempting to see the French-Algerian War as a "model" of sorts for later conflicts (especially the United States presence in Vietnam and/or Iraq). Based on your knowledge of the Algerian War, do you think this comparison valid? PLEASE NOTE: Your focus in this paper should be on Algeria, not on other conflicts.
Interview with the director of Battle of Algiers (2004) Algerian War and its Aftermath
7. Charles de Gaulle has sometimes been called "Napoleon the Fourth." Do you agree with this assessment?
The Problem of Legitimacy Resistance and Collaboration Fourth Republic
Algerian War and its Aftermath