FRENCH 378 A The Making of Contemporary France
Instructor: Florentina Dedu-Constantin Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lectures are asynchronous; there will be a live discussion class meeting on Zoom every Wednesday from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.
“A country that has two hundred and sixty-five cheeses cannot be conquered.” – “It cannot even be governed.” Real or imaginary, this exchange between Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle conveys the conundrum of France’s national identity: how to simultaneously be completely one yet infinitely divisible? Since the Revolution, the tension between unity and fragmentation, the one and the many, the universal and the particular, forms the basis of all approaches to France.
This course probes the development of contemporary France by considering the moments and documents that complicate narratives of a unified cultural space and make evident the very “heterogeneity” referenced above. One of the principal ways in which it does this is by examining how the idea of France is complicated internally by a number of opposing tendencies: its equally important revolutionary and reactionary political traditions; its credo of a singular culture (Republicanism) in the face of ascendant multiculturalism; its determined monolingualism and, in spite of it all, thriving minor languages; its anti-immigrant reflexes and status as birthplace of human rights.
It also does this is by juxtaposing events taking place in metropolitan France with those occurring in the former colonies, where connected events (e.g., the definitive end of hereditary monarchy in France vs. the abolition of slavery in the French Caribbean).
We will do so by examining a variety of types of texts: historical, scholarly, political, literary, cinematic, etc. Taught in English