France Since 1815

Fall 2014


Instructor: James R. Munson
: E. Ruffner 234
Office telephone: 395-2218
Office hours: MWF 1-2
                       TR 11-12 and by appointment
E-mail: munsonjr@longwood.edu



(Images of "Marianne", female personification of the republic, one by Honoré Daumier from 1848, the other a sculpture of the actress Catherine Deneuve from the 1960s, courtesy of  http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/histoire/mariannes/marianne_mere.asp and  http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com respectively)

Course Description
Required Texts
Course Objectives
Class Schedule
Course Requirements
Attendance Policy
Honor Code and Plagiarism

Course Description: The history of major developments in French politics, culture, and society in the modern era.

    Return to Table of Contents


Popkin, Jeremy, A History of Modern France, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005.

Burns, Michael, France and the Dreyfus Affair: A Documentary History,
(The Bedford Series in History and Culture), 1999.

Jackson, Julian, De Gaulle, Haus Publishing, 2005.

Wylie, Lawrence, Village in the Vaucluse, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, Third Edition, 1977.

   Return to Table of Contents

Course Objectives:

The goal of this course is for students to develop the following:

1. A better understanding and appreciation of history and historical inquiry by means of an in-depth study of modern France.

2. An ability to think critically, analytically and systematically about complex historical events and issues.

3. An ability to organize different types of source materials, relate them to each other by means of critical analysis, and use them to isolate essential issues and themes of the period covered by this course.

4. An appreciation of the variety of disciplines and approaches necessary to gain an understanding of the past.

5. A sense of how France's history relates to the broader development of modern Western and world civilization.

6. A greater ability to express oneself clearly and concisely on paper, as well as an ability to articulate pertinent observations and questions orally.

7. A general familiarity with the course and significance of the history of one of the leading nations in the modern West.

8. A greater understanding of the human condition and experience by examining the dilemmas and challenges faced by men and women in a society undergoing rapid change.

   Return to Table of Contents

Class Schedule:

Week 1 (Aug. 25-29)

Introduction: Course Information and Requirements.
France, Europe and the West  

Readings: Popkin, pp. 1-6, 25-49.
Wylie, pp. v-xvii, 3-34.
On Canvas (Modules):
Polasky, The Legacy of the French Revolution and Lyons, the Legacy of Napoleon

Note: The add/drop deadline is Sept. 2, 5 p.m.

Week 2 (Sept. 2-5)

Labor Day Holiday:  Sept. 1

The Old Regime and the Revolution
Legacies of the Revolution and Empire

Readings: Popkin, pp. 52-82.
Wylie, pp. 37-54.

Week 3 (Sept. 8-12) 

The Bourbon Restoration
The Revolution of 1830 and the "Rule of the Notables" under Louis-Philippe

Readings: Popkin, pp. 83-114.
Wylie, pp. 55-97.
Canvas:  Robert Tombs on the "Franco-French War"

Week 4 (Sept. 15-19)

The Revolution of 1848: Democracy at the Crossroads
French Liberalism and Social Thought in the Early Nineteenth Century

Readings: Wylie, pp. 98-184. 
Canvas:  Tocqueville on the July Monarchy and the Revolution of 1848, 215-41.

Prospectus due on Friday, Sept. 19, by 5 p.m.

Week 5 (Sept. 22-26)

Napoleon III and the Second Empire
The Paris Commune and the Origins of the Third Republic

Readings: Popkin, pp. 115-141.
Burns, 1-60.
Canvas:  Higgonnet on Paris in the Nineteenth Century

Prospectus critiques due on Wednesday, by 5 p.m.

Week 6 (Sept. 29-Oct. 3)

Consolidation of the Third Republic
Education and the National Consciousness

Readings: Popkin, pp. 142-178.
Burns, 61-123.
Canvas:  Anti-clericals in the Third Republic, pp. 350-366.

Take Home Exam: Due Friday, Oct. 3, by 5 p.m.

Week 7 (Oct. 6-10)

Culture and Society in the Belle Epoque
From Boulanger to the Dreyfus Affair

Readings: Popkin, pp. 179-199.
Burns,  124-192.
Canvas: Price on education

Note: The withdrawal deadline is October 15 (5 p.m.).

Week 8  (Oct. 15-17)

Oct. 13-14 (Fall Break).

France and the First World War

Readings: Popkin, pp. 200-219.
Wylie, pp. 185-195.
Jackson, pp. 1-12.

Week 9 (Oct. 20-24) 

War and Reconstruction
France between the Right and the Left

Readings: Popkin, pp. 220-229. 
Wylie, 195-205, 243-277.

Week 10 (Oct. 27-31)

France, Versailles and the European Order
Rise and Fall of the Popular Front

Readings: Popkin, pp. 230-251.
Wylie, pp. 278-321.
Jackson, pp. 12-24.
Canvas: Readings on Colonialism
Canvas: Conklin on French W. Africa

Week 11 (Nov. 3-7)

Appeasement and Occupation
Collaboration and Resistance, 1940-1944

Readings: Popkin, pp. 252-262.
Jackson, pp. 24-43.
Canvas: Reynolds and Corbin on Women

Research Paper due on Friday, by 5 p.m.

Week 12 (Nov. 10-14)

The Fourth Republic
The Post-War Economic Miracle and the New France

Readings: Popkin, pp. 263-271.
Jackson, pp. 43-79.
Wylie, pp. 206-239, 325-339.

Articles on de Gaulle:  http://www.jstor.org/stable/3054237?seq=1 
Title:  De Gaulle and the United States: How the Rift Began  Author(s):  Julius W. Pratt  Source:  The History Teacher, Vol. 1, No. 4  (May, 1968), pp. 5-15

Title:  Christoper Flood and Hugo Frey on "Extreme Right-Wing Reactions to Charles de Gaulle's 'Mémoires de Guerre': A Scene from the French Civil War", South Central Review, Vol. 17, No. 4  (Winter, 2000), pp. 72-83

Week 13 (Nov. 17-21)

De Gaulle, the Fifth Republic and the Decline of French Power

Readings: Popkin, pp. 272-292.
Wylie, pp. 340-383.
Canvas: Gildea on the Post War French "Miracle" 
Canvas: Furlough on Club Med

Critical Film Review due Nov. 19 by 5 p.m.

Week 14 (Nov. 24-25)

Prosperity and its Discontents: May, 1968

Readings: Popkin, pp. 293-331.

Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 26-28.

Week 15 (Dec. 1-5)

France since 1968: Is the French Revolution Finally Over?

Readings: Jackson, pp. 79-143.
Canvas: Johnson on the Crisis of May 13
Canvas: Cogan.
Canvas: Shennan.

FINAL EXAM -- Due by Monday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m.

 Return to Table of Contents

Course Requirements: A mid-term take-home exam, a comprehensive final take-home exam and two research projects consisting of 1) a term paper and 2) a critical film review are the written requirements for this course. Failure to complete any of the requirements will be regarded as a failure to complete the course, and will result in a failing grade for the entire course (not a '0' for that particular assignment). In addition, each student will prepare a prospectus for their term paper, and, following that, a written critique of another student's prospectus.  Each student will submit five discussion questions for each Thursday discussion. The discussion questions are due by Wednesday at 5 p.m. before each discussion. The critiques and discussion questions will not be graded, but failure to post them on Canvas on time will result in a loss of 7 points from the final grade in each case. All major assignments (that is, excluding the prospectus, critique, and discussion questions) received in the seven days after the due dates indicated on the weekly schedule will be marked down up to one full grade. All major assignments received in the seven days after the due dates indicated on the weekly schedule will be marked down up to one full grade. Absolutely no assignments will be accepted after 5 p.m. on the seventh day.  Please be aware that you must earn a C- or better in the course in order to apply it toward the writing-intensive course requirement or credit toward the major.

Exams and papers must be handed in when scheduled. Extensions will be accepted only by prior consent of the instructor, and only for compelling reasons (as determined by the instructor). If a student, without gaining prior consent, is unable to turn in an exam or other assignment because of sudden illness or some other extraordinary event, the instructor must be notified immediately. If I cannot be reached directly or by phone, you must leave a message with the History Department (x2224). A doctor's note or other written documentation must accompany a student's request for a make-up exam.

Exams: The mid-term and final exams will consist of essays, and the final will be comprehensive in nature. The exams will be designed to test acquaintance with the class presentations lectures, the assigned readings, and issues raised during discussions. Taking careful notes on the readings and in class, therefore, is strongly recommended. The instructor will be looking for evidence of general knowledge, an organized and analytical approach to that knowledge, and an ability to combine the raw materials of the course -- text, lectures, discussions, and documentary sources -- into pertinent and meaningful insights. The instructor will also be evaluating your ability to communicate those insights. Points will be taken off for run-on sentences, grammatical errors, spelling errors, poor punctuation, failure to document sources or any other problems that, in the opinion of the instructor, affect comprehension of the student's work. Strive above all for clarity. 

Research Paper: The major research project for this course is a research paper organized around a central argument either for or against a particular interpretation of important historical events, documents, or individuals, with a special emphasis on the use of primary sources. The details will be explained in class and in handouts. This overall assignment will involve explaining the historical context of a document's formation, analyzing the text of the document itself, determining the historical significance of the document's content and ideas, and compiling a bibliography of the best historical research on the document and its significance. For research ideas, begin in all cases with the required texts and sourcebook. All students should meet with me as early as possible about their choice, because all the assignments must focus on the same document or set of documents. The prospectus will be distributed to other students in the class, each of whom will prepare a written critique due as indicated in the weekly schedule. The latter assignment will not be graded, but failure to complete it will result in a deduction of seven points from the final grade, as outlined above. The prospectus must be printed on a word-processor in a standard 10 or 12 pitch font (such as courier or times roman). They should be double-spaced, with a title page, and one-inch (and no more than one-inch) margins. The text (not including bibliography and title page) of the prospectus should be no less than 1 and no more than 2 full pages in length. The final paper must contain a minimum of seven full pages of text (not including the text used for the title page, headings, sub-headings, bibliography, notes, or supplementary material). This amounts to approximately 2450 words. Your name, the course name and number, and the date must be on the title page of all written assignments. Each assignment must include a bibliography of all sources. The bibliography and endnote citations must conform to the proper style as defined in the departmental style sheet (http://www.longwood.edu/philpolhist/resources.htm), or in Chicago style as described in the latest edition of Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. Do not use MLA, APA or any alternative style current in other disciplines. Unless you wish to see the instructor fly into a blind rage, do not even think of using parenthetical notes on any assignment other than the take-home. All assignments other than the weekly discussion questions must be submitted to me both in hard copy (under my office door), and as an attached Word file by e-mail. The discussion questions should be submitted by e-mail, in the text of the e-mail itself (not as an attachment).

The type of material that must be documented (i.e. cited in endnotes) includes: controversial or distinctive arguments and opinions, facts that are not a matter of broad general knowledge (that would appear in a standard textbook or encyclopedia entry on the topic), statistics, all quotes, and paraphrases or summaries of an author's argument. All direct quotes over two lines in length must be indented and single-spaced as described in Turabian.

It is imperative that you document source material, but the argument or thesis of your paper must be in your own words: excessive use of quotes or lengthy paraphrasing of sources will not be accepted, and leads easily to the grievous sin of plagiarism. The final paper must both be submitted as (through Canvas) to turnitin.com. On plagiarism, see below and the departmental style sheet.

Sources:  The citation of at least six different sources is a minimal requirement for the paper.  The majority of these must be print sources (these would include articles from on-line databases like JSTOR or full-text sources you might find on various web collections, like the Internet Modern History Sourcebook below).  The secondary sources should be scholarly works of article or book length.  Whatever combination of sources you use, three or more of these sources must come from the library (Longwood, Hampden-Sydney or other college/university libraries), one of which must be a primary source (in translation, if orginally not in English) from the period.  I have put a vast number of sources from the library on reserve (see reserve list below), most of them containing primary sources for use in your papers.  Failure to consult and use these where relevant will make me very grumpy indeed.  Informational materials on the internet are notoriously unreliable, especially in history, since there is often no monitoring of the content for accuracy.  For that reason, you may use no more than one web site as a source.  When in doubt, contact me about any web sites you are using, and avoid those not affiliated with an institution of higher education (.edu sites) or a scholarly organization devoted to the subject in question (which are sometimes .org sites). Even those can be misleading, inaccurate or out of date. For a guide on what questions to ask about any web site you are considering for use in your paper, see the following web page developed by Robert Brown of the University of North Carolina-Pembroke:  http://www.uncp.edu/home/rwb/hst329-i.htm.  You may use encyclopedias and other reference works as a place to start, but only to get up to speed on a topic or as background information on the documents you are using.  These should not be listed in the bibliography, cited in the paper, or considered a replacement for a more substantial outside source.  Never cite a textbook (including our own), dictionary, encyclopedia or their on-line equivalents (including Wikipedia, Encarta, Sparksnotes, Spartacus, etc.) in the final paper.  Instead, find a scholarly source with the same information (such as the one cited by the textbook or encyclopedia):  if you can't find such a source, then don't use the information, no matter how well it fits into your argument.  Never, ever, ever, cite my lectures or comments, or those of other students in your paper.  Never use Internet sources the origins of which are murky or unknown to you (reputable ones always list the author or moderator somewhere).  Mark Lenker of the library maintains a useful guide for history subjects, but remember that in cases where that guide differs from my policies (say, the proper use of reference works), my policies take precedence (Home - History - LibGuides at Longwood University).  When in any doubt about what seem to be conflicting statements or suggestions, contact me before plowing ahead.  Double-dipping (submitting a paper for this course that is substantially the same as a paper submitted for any other course, past or present) is not permitted.  Some useful web sites containing primary sources and many links are:

The Internet Modern History Sourcebook -- http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook.asp
(the best and easiest to use -- it contains both excerpts and full-text on-line editions of important sources)
The Hanover Historical Texts Project -- http://history.hanover.edu/project.php
The Avalon Project --  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp
The Historical Text Archive --  http://historicaltextarchive.com/ (useful mainly for links)
The Voice of the Shuttle --  http://vos.ucsb.edu/browse.asp?id=2713#id877 (be sure to browse the special topics as well)
E-Server --  http://eserver.org/history/ (for selected topics)
EuroDocs --  Main Page - EuroDocs  (use both time period and national history links)
The McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought -- http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/  (this archive defines "economic thought" broadly, including most major thinkers [even poets], so take a look no matter what your subject)
The Marxists Internet Archive -- http://www.marxists.org or http://www.marx.org -- Yes, Virginia, there are still Marxists, and this bunch have put together a very good web resource that ranges far beyond the confines of Marxist thought itself.  No matter what your topic is, check this web site out first.  If you're doing any topic that is even vaguely related to left-wing politics, this is the best tool currently on the web.
Victorian Web -- http://www.victorianweb.org/ -- mostly Britain, but some good material on France.

This is hardly an exhuastive list.  I have found sites devoted to the Paris Commune of 1871, the Dreyfus Affair and any number of specialized topics, some of which may still be out there -- but I don't want to deprive you of the pleasure of the hunt.  Aside from the reserve list and research guide, the research form below should be used as a template to lead you through the process of gathering information on the primary source or sources you plan to use for the prospectus and paper. 

To Research Form

Reserve List

 Return to Table of Contents  

Second research project:  Students will also write a shorter critical film review (3-4 full pages, minimum 1050 words, excluding title page, endnotes, etc. as above) of a film related to French history.  This assignment will be worth fifty points.  Some of the film options will be have public screenings (I will give you a schedule of those later).  The others will be on my reserve shelf.  You each will view two films:  one at a public screening, and another on reserve, writing your paper on the second of these films (the one you view on reserve, in other words).  Nothing prevents you from attending two public screenings, if your paper happens to be on one of those films. The purpose of the review will be to place the film in the context of the historical era or events it depicts, and to discuss the orientation of the film-maker(s) to that period or those events.  Questions of cinematic style of the type you might encounter in a film class like the ones taught by Dr. Edwards, Dr. Amoss or Dr. McGee in the English/Modern Languages Department -- themes, imagery, narrative structure, framing, use of allegory or symbolism, special effects, even the overall quality of the film -- should be secondary to the discussion of the film's historical content and orientation.  You can present your personal opinion of the film, but do so in the context of analyzing its historical content.  This will require research into the era depicted, in addition to research wherever possible into the orientation of the film-maker(s) -- director, writers, etc. -- to the events.  If the film is an adaptation of a historical novel, play or non-fiction work, then that becomes part of the mix (although film-makers have been known to depart significantly from the original source).  Don't worry, you don't have to read the original Balzac or Jean Giono novel or historical memoir used for the screenplay to analyze the film, but it's worth knowing something about the original work from a review or other short source.  The section on sources above applies to this assignment as well -- Imdb.com or Wikipedia is OK to get up to speed on a film, but you need to proceed beyond that (or the "special features" disc available with the DVD) to research the film-maker, screen-writer, production team, their motivations for making the film, attitudes toward issues raised (race, class, gender, political climate, etc.) the critical and/or audience reception of the film at the time, and other such matters.

In many cases, a film may say more about the time period in which it was produced than about the time period it depicts.  A good example not related to this course is Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds from 2009, which departs completely from anything resembling historical reality about World War Two -- Hitler's face is shot off in a movie theater? -- for the purpose of telling a good yarn in Tarantino's usual violent, wildly funny manner.  Nobody would have found that movie entertaining in 1949, when heroes were stoic, violence was toned down, and humor consisted of wise-cracking G.I.s played by John Wayne, not Brad Pitt. Tarantino is an extreme example of present fantasy replacing past reality, but most films, even ones with strong attention to period detail, bring to bear attitudes of their own time.  Sometimes they express the beliefs, prejudices or stereotypes of their time, sometimes they pointedly criticize those same beliefs, prejudices or stereotypes. The issue becomes more complicated with an adaptation from another source, when the original author might, for example, have an attitude toward women or "inferior" races and classes that modern audiences don't share.  Screenwriters and directors have been known to change the story accordingly for modern sensibilities.  Your job is to be senitive to these realities, and that's why you need to do research.

In some cases, the films claim to be "based on actual events," in others they are works of fiction.  But be aware that even fictional works, good ones anyway, have some historical basis.  The Horseman on the Roof is based on a twentieth-century novel, but the cholera epidemic of 1832 it depicts was no fiction.  Films depicting actual events or people are necessarily going to compress or fictionalize, even when Tarantino isn't involved, so fiction creeps into those as well.  They even lie.  Example:  Director Oliver Stone claimed in his movie about the Kennedy assassination JFK that the phone system in D.C. was shut down (by the treacherous CIA, presumably) in the hours after Kennedy was shot in Dallas.  This despite the hundreds of reporters who made phone calls that very day to their Washington bureaus from Texas.  In other words, film-makers don't always like the truth getting in the way of their story, so be careful out there.

Researching the historical backgound for a film is like doing any historical research, so I refer you to the section on the research paper above.  For researching the film itself, you need to go beyond the usual Imdb.com (which gives you only bare bones facts, although with some good links) or Rotten Tomatoes (which tells you what critics and audiences think of the movie's quality) kinds of  sites to find out more about the people who made it, and why.  Use the research form above to compile information about the film:  the director, screenwriter, when it was made, when it was released, what source, if any, it was adapted from, when that source dates from, etc.  Use the library's research guide for film studies to find more in-depth information about the film:  interviews with the film-maker(s), articles about the film in journals, etc -- see http://libguides.longwood.edu/film.  Some of the directors of the films listed are legends, at least in France -- Jean-Luc Godard and Bertrand Tavernier, just to name a couple -- so there will be no lack of literature on them.  History journals like the American Historical Review, the Journal of Modern History and French Historical Studies have also taken to reviewing films of historical content more often, and all can be accessed through JSTOR or other library databases.  The idea isn't just to find out what source a director or screenwriter used, but why they used it, or the more basic question of why they made the film at all.  After all, films cost money, take time, and are really hard work.  Why would someone invest all that in a film about cholera, a dispute over a spring, a minor skirmish in Africa, or a small-time crook in Paris?  What's their point?  You tell me -- that's the assignment.  Or another way of putting it:  you need a thesis.  That's a surprise coming from a history professor. 

Public Screenings (these films are also on reserve, except during the week when they are shown):

Battle of Algiers (1966) -- This highly political film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France took "Best Film" honors at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. The bulk of the film is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957. September 2 @ 7pm in Wygal 204.

Jean de Florette (1986) -- Co-adapted by director Claude Berri from a novel by Marcel Pagnol, this hugely successful French historical drama concerns a bizarre battle royale over a valuable natural spring in a remote French farming community. City dweller Jean Cadoret (Gérard Depardieu) assumes ownership of the spring when the original owner is accidentally killed by covetous farmer Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand). Soubeyran and his equally disreputable nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) pull every dirty trick in the book to force Cadoret off his land, but the novice farmer stands firm. September 7 @ 6:30pm in Wygal 204

Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) (1981) -- Lucien (Philippe Noiret) is the bumbling police chief of Bourkasa, a dusty outpost in rural Senegal. Badgered by local thugs, Lucien initially comes across as a pathetic oaf unable to stand up for himself. Things at home are scarcely better, as Lucien finds himself harried by his nagging wife, Huguette (Stéphane Audran), who is carrying on an affair with a man she claims to be her brother (Eddy Mitchell). Without warning, Lucien embarks on a nonchalant killing spree, murdering everyone who has ever mistreated him. September 14 @ 6:30pm in Wygal 204

L'Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows) (1969) -- In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille, but not without consequences for his comrades. With then international stars Simone Signoret and Jean-Pierre Cassel (father of Vincent, of Ocean’s 13 and Brotherhood of the Wolf fame, among other films). September 23 @ 6:30pm in Ruffner 115

Other films available on reserve for Hist 358 at the Circulation desk:

Zéro de conduite [Zero for Conduct] (1933) -- The overtly autobiographical plotline takes place at a painfully strict boys' boarding school, presided over by such petit-bourgeous tyrants as a discipline-dispensing dwarf. The students revolt against the monotony of their daily routine by erupting into a outsized pillow fight. Their final assault occurs during a prim-and-proper school ceremony, wherein the headmasters are bombarded with fruit. Like all of Jean Vigo's works, Zero for Conduct was greeted with outrage by the "right" people. Thanks to pressure from civic and educational groups, this exhilaratingly anarchistic film was banned from public exhibition until 1945.  The library has it on VHS, if you want the DVD version, see me.

À bout de souffle [Breathless] (1960) -- The first feature film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and one of the seminal films of the French New Wave, Breathless is the story of the love between Michel Poiccard, a small-time hood wanted for killing a cop, and Patricia Franchini, an American who sells the International Herald Tribune along the boulevards of Paris. Their relationship develops as Michel hides out from a dragnet.

Les 400 coups [The 400 Blows] (1959) -- For his feature-film debut, critic-turned-director François Truffaut drew inspiration from his own troubled childhood. The 400 Blows stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, Truffaut's preteen alter ego. Misunderstood at home by his parents and tormented in school by his insensitive teacher (Guy Decomble), Antoine frequently runs away from both places. The boy finally quits school after being accused of plagiarism by his teacher. He steals a typewriter from his father (Albert Remy) to finance his plans to leave home. The father angrily turns Antoine over to the police, who lock the boy up with hardened criminals.

Noirs et Blancs en Couleur (Black and White in Color) (1976) -- Upon the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, a French trading post in West Central Africa finds itself at odds with a formerly peaceful German post, for no other reason than their parent countries are at war.

Madame Bovary (1991) – In this adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic nineteenth-century novel, Isabelle Huppert stars as Emma Bovary, a woman whose happiness depends exclusively on elements outside of herself.  She spends her days indulging in flights of fancy and endless romantic longings, emotionally estranged from her good-natured but ignorant husband Charles (Jean-François Balmer) a physician whom she married as an escape from her landowner father's farm.

Chocolat (1988) – Not be confused with the Johnny Depp/Juliette Binoche romance of the same name, this film is set in French Colonial Africa.  It is told from the viewpoint of 8-year-old Cecile Ducasse, who, with no other frame of reference, accepts the subjugation of the black natives by the white colonists as the natural order of things. The girl grows gradually aware of the social iniquities about her, but only in retrospect (the film is related in flashback, narrated by the grown-up heroine).

Le Corbeau [The Raven] (1943) -- A small French village is plagued by a poison-pen writer, whose principal target is Doctor Germain (Pierre Fresnay). The vitriolic letters wreak so much havoc that soon neighbor turns upon neighbor.  Made during the war, the film was  condemned as unpatriotic after the liberation, and director Henri-Georges Clouzot was banned from filmmaking until 1947.  Clouzot’s allies defended it as an attack on the paranoid climate created by collaboration with the Nazis, but to this day the film evokes strong partisan emotions.

Baisers Volés (Stolen Kisses) (1968) -- The episodic romantic comedy Stolen Kisses is the third installment in François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, which started with The 400 Blows in 1959. In 1968, Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is discharged from the military and comes home to Paris, where he struggles to find work and finds himself torn between commitment to a serious relationship and his urge to stray with other women.  Filmed during the tumultuous events of 1968 in Paris, although they don’t figure in the story.

Le hussard sur le toit [The Horseman on the Roof] (1995) -- Based on a twentieth-century novel about the cholera epidemic of 1832 in southern France, and the attempts by a young Italian patriot both to evade the disease and to avoid being captured by Austrian spies. He is joined by a beautiful French marquise searching for her husband, and, briefly, a cat with real acting chops. Lush and romantic, but with a good sense of period.

Prisoner of Honor (2003) -- Based on the true story of the Dreyfus Affair, with the usual liberties taken to compress the narrative.

La Grande Illusion [Grand Illusion] (1937) -- During World War One, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, like Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Marechal and Rosenthal still want to escape.  One of the classics of French cinema, Jean Renoir's film explores issues of both class and national identity.

Class participation: Class participation is an essential part of this course. In most weeks, the last class period will be set aside for discussion of the readings. In order to ensure this, I require each student to submit five discussion questions by 5 p.m. the night before (Thursday night, in all but exceptional cases) to serve as a basis for discussion the next day.  These questions should include anything that puzzles you about the reading, connections you see with previous readings, issues you would like to see cleared up, or just themes that you think would make a good basis for discussion.  They should not be merely factual questions you could have looked up yourself, like why Napoleon III wasn't Napoleon II.  I will not grade these questions per se, but I will more or less treat them as I do absences:  that is, if you fail to hand them in, I count them as absences even if you show up for the relevant discussion, and that counts against you when I weigh your grade at the end of the semester.  In general, the discussion questions, like class participation in the discussions generally, become part of the "non-numerical" factor in the weighing of grades.  Consistently thoughtful questions, especially if backed up by more than an occasional class contribution, will go a long way toward bringing your grade up.  At the beginning of each class, I will choose two or three students at random to be discussion leaders.  Those students will be graded for their contributions to the discussion that day.  Any who have not read the material or who are absent without prior clearance from me will receive a failing grade for that day's discussion.  I will arrange it so that everyone gets a more or less equal chance to be "on call".  Voluntary contributions from students not designated by this system will of course be both welcome and viewed positively, especially when they demonstrate acquaintance and engagement with the reading.  Discussions may also take the form of formal debates on key subjects during the semester.  Your overall grade for class participation will not be figured numerically into your final score, but will weigh heavily nonetheless.  It will be used to decide borderline cases, offset negative trends like absences, or, if judged to be above your performance on written work, bump you to a higher grade.  A "B" student who performs at a "B" level in class will still get a "B", or, at most, a "B+", depending on other factors.  But a "B" or "B+" student making "A" contributions in class significantly increases his or her chances of an "A-", maybe even an "A", depending on other circumstances.  A student whose contributions in class are few or show shallow acquaintance with the readings can expect negative consequences, even with all "A's" on the written assignments.  Since we went to a system of counting half grades in the GPA in 2012, all of this has become more significant.  For those of you who are conscientious but shy, this is the time to make an effort to overcome your performance anxiety.  So-called "stupid" or seemingly obvious questions often lead to the best discussions.  For those of you who like to cover up a tendency not to do the reading with blather and uninformed opinions, I will not be fooled;  in fact, I will be irritated.  I reserve the right if necessary to assign in-class essays, oral reports, group work, and, as stated above, formal debates to facilitate discussion, and to use these assignments in the determination of final grades. Knowing, as you do, how sick and sadistic history professors are, it is in each and everyone's direct interest to make the discussions work, and keep the beast at bay.


The mid-term, the final, and the term paper are worth 100 points each, the critical film review 50. Your final grade will be determined by the total number of points you gain out of a maximum of 350. I do not grade on a curve. Attendance, evidence of progress or lack thereof in the course of the semester, and especially class participation (including discussion questions), will be used to decide half grades and borderline cases (which, experience shows, means most students). Serious attendance problems or disruptive conduct (as defined by me, not he student) in class can result in a lowering of grade. The grading scale is as follows:


          SCORE GRADE
         326-350 A
         315-325 A-
         305-314 B+
         291-304 B
         280-290 B-
         270-279 C+
         256-269 C
         245-255 C-
         235-244 D+
         221-234  D
         210-220 D-
         Below 210 F

Extra-Credit Assignments: Extra-credit assignments may be arranged with the instructor. These assignments must be approved in advance by the instructor on or before Oct. 12, and will not be accepted unless so approved. They are worth a maximum of  40 points. Under no circumstances will an extra-credit assignment be accepted as substitute for any other written requirement in the course. An extra-credit assignment can only elevate a student into a higher grade bracket (for example, from a B to an A) if the student has scored the higher grade on at least one of the three major exams or the paper. The assignment must take the form either of an analytical book review (not a book summary) 3-5 pages in length, or a research paper 7-10 pages in length, and must utilize sources not assigned in this course. Style of text, footnotes, bibliography and title page must conform to the guidelines of the departmental style sheet. If you decide to do an extra-credit assignment, it must be turned in no later than Nov. 9 for you to receive credit.

   Return to Table of Contents

Attendance Policy: Class attendance is a requirement of this course. Repeated unexcused absences will lead to a reduction of grade. Unexcused absences totaling 25% or more will result in an automatic F. The instructor will excuse a student only under the most extraordinary circumstances. Chronic lateness will also be penalized, since it presents a class disturbance. If a student arrives after roll is taken, it is the student's responsibility to place his or her name on the class roll by the end of the class period. Failure to do so will result in an unexcused absence, even if the student later produces class notes or other evidence that he or she was present for part of the class period.

   Return to Table of Contents

Honor Code and Plagiarism: Students are expected to observe the honor code. All work for this course must be pledged. Students found to have cheated on an exam or to have plagiarized material in a paper will be subject to the maximum penalty under college rules. For those in doubt about the definition of plagiarism, it consists of copying passages from a source without attribution and quotation. If you have reproduced the language of your source, you have committed plagiarism whether or not you have cited the source and page number. This includes passages that a student may have modified: for example, changed verb tenses, omission or replacement of occasional words, reshuffling of phrases, sentences or paragraphs, combining of different plagiarized sources. Writing a bad paper in your own words is far better than writing a good one using the words of someone else. One suggestion for avoiding inadvertent echoing of your texts and sources: close all books when writing, and consult them only for specific facts or direct quotes. Also proofread your paper with plagiarism specifically in mind. For more on plagiarism, see the departmental style sheet

Recording and Class Decorum: Recording of lectures is not permitted.  Students who are excused from class by the instructor must make arrangements with the instructor or with other students to cover the material missed.  Students who skip class without permission are responsible for making their own arrangements with other students (not with the instructor) for the material covered in class.

Students are expected to observe class decorum. Students engaging in behavior bothersome to other students or to the instructor (for example, eating or drinking, talking in class, text messaging, or the use of personal stereos, MP3 or other media players, cell phones or other electronic devices) will be asked to leave and/or marked as absent. Food and drinks are not permitted in the classroom.

   Return to Table of Contents

Bibliography: Materials to be used by all students in exams (but not in papers):

Popkin, Jeremy, A History of Modern France, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005.

Burns, Michael, France and the Dreyfus Affair: A Documentary History, (The Bedford Series in History and Culture), 1999.

Jackson, Julian, De Gaulle, Haus Publishing, 2005.

Wylie, Lawrence, Village in the Vaucluse, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, Third Edition, 1977.

And the weekly readings on-line and on Canvas.

Other references:

Consult the bibliographies in the required texts, the readings on Canvas and on-line, the library catalogue and the instructor for the outside references to be used in your research paper.

   Return to Table of Contents

Return to the Department Syllabus Page

Return to the Department of History and Political Science Homepage