History | Modern France
B357 | 27146 | Spang


Students must sign up for a discussion class at 12:20 Friday or
1:25 Friday
Above class carries Culture Studies credit
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only

Episodes in French history—such as the Revolution of 1789, the re-
building of Paris in the 1850s, and the Algerian War of the 1950s—
have been fundamental to the definition of modern Europe and of the
modern world.  Through its concentration on France, this course
hence helps students develop a critical, informed understanding of
modern history within a specific context.

Among the topics and questions covered: the emergence of a French
republican tradition; debates over religion and the state; tensions
and contradictions within French imperialism and nationalism; and
the relation of innovative artistic developments (such as
Impressionism and Surrealism) to social change and cultural
transformation.  Throughout, the “politics” of the course’s title
refers both to national public life and to power relations at many
different levels and in multiple registers.  Considering the
organization of self-conscious movements (such as Realism, many
forms of socialism, or the Resistance) as well as the development of
new technologies of communication and transportation, this course
encourages students to think about how people make history and about
how they write it.

Analytic skills are emphasized over synthetic ones and students are
required to confront the complexities and ambiguities central to all
sophisticated historical analysis.  We will meet twice weekly for
lectures; we will also meet weekly in smaller groups (15-17
students) to discuss readings.  Readings for discussion will average
40-50 pages per week and will include short novels, memoirs, and
newspaper articles, as well as selections from nineteenth- and
twentieth-century historians.  Considerable attention is also given
to visual materials.  No previous study of French history, culture,
or language is required, but students should be prepared to work
hard and think creatively.

Grading: Class participation (20%); 8-10 page paper (20%); final
exam (20%); three short writing assignments (5% each); midterm exam
(15%).