French Republics and the Politics of Difference 1870-1981 - 30 credits (HS1747)
Module tutor: Dr Emmanuel Chapin
The French republic is famous for its motto: liberty, equality, fraternity. Yet, at the end of the nineteenth century, French republicans granted different rights to different people and subordinated the liberty of individuals to the demands of social order. This course approaches French history from the perspective of the ‘politics of difference’. It identifies categories of discriminated people (women, colonized people, lower classes, immigrants, etc.) and examines the shift in the republican idea of justice from a utilitarian calculation of interest to the enforcement of equal rights and the promotion of equal opportunities. Lectures combine the close study of major events (e.g. the Dreyfus Affair) with an analysis of the larger debates surrounding them (e.g. reasons of state and individual rights). In seminars, students discuss a variety of primary and secondary sources.
Availability of module: Every year
A range of teaching methods will be used in each of the sessions of the course, comprising a combination of lectures and seminar discussion of major issues. The syllabus is divided into a series of major course themes, then sub-divided into principal topics for the study of each theme.
The aim of the lectures is to provide a brief introduction to a particular topic, establishing the salient features of major course themes, identifying key issues and providing historiographical guidance. The lectures aim to provide a basic framework for understanding and should be thought of as useful starting points for further discussion and individual study. Where appropriate, handouts and other materials may be distributed to reinforce the material discussed.
The primary aim of seminars will be to generate debate and discussion amongst course participants. Seminars for each of the course topics will provide an opportunity for students to analyse and further discuss key issues and topics relating to lectures.
Students will be assessed by means of a combination of one 2000 word assessed essay [25%] and one three-hour unseen written examination paper in which the student will answer three questions [75%].
The Assessed Essay will contribute 25% of the final mark for the module. It is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to review evidence, draw appropriate conclusions from it and employ the formal conventions of scholarly presentation. It must be no longer than 2,000 words (excluding empirical appendices and references).
The Examination will take place during the second assessment period [May/June] and will consist of an unseen three hour paper that will contribute the remaining 75% of the final mark for this module. Students must write 3 answers in total.
Summary of course content
Topics to be covered include:
- 4 September 1870: proclamation of the Third Republic. Empire, republic, war, and civil strife
- 16 May 1877: Jules Simon’s resignation. The institutional compromise
- 1881-82: Jules Ferry’s school laws. The republican platform
- 1893-94: the villainous laws. Republican government and political opposition
- 3 January 1898: Émile Zola’s J’accuse. Raison d’État and individual rights
- 9 December 1905: separation of church and state. The anticlerical Republic
- 15 July 1914: law on the income tax. The republican idea of justice
- 1916: The Battle of Verdun. The French nation and the German enemy
- 1922: Victor Margueritte’s The Bachelor Girl. Gender and sexuality in postwar France
- 10 August 1927: law on nationality. Republic, citizenship, and immigration
- 25 June 1928: adoption of the franc Poincaré. Liberalism and its critics
- 6 May 1931: opening of the Colonial Exhibition. The Republic’s empire
- 6 February 1934: the veterans’ riot. Right and left, far and beyond
- 22 June 1940: the strange defeat. The Vichy regime
- 25 August 1944: Paris liberated. The expansion of the welfare state
- 27 October 1946: creation of the French Union. Democratic standards and the end of empire
- 9 January 1959: André Malraux appointed Minister of Cultural Affairs. The Republic, the arts, and the people
- 10-11 May 1968: the night of the barricades. Youth’s challenge to authority
- 17 January 1975: law legalizing abortion. Women’s rights and opportunities in contemporary France
- 10 May 1981: François Mitterrand elected president. The socialist promise
On completion of this module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate a broad and systematic knowledge of the history of France from 1870-1981 and an understanding of the major interpretative issues;
- Identify the main developments in intellectual life, politics, economy and society, and gender relations, and in France’s relations with the wider world;
- Identify strengths, weaknesses, problems, and/or particularities of different historical interpretations of France in this period.
Students will extend their ability to:
- formulate and justify their own arguments and conclusions in seminar discussions
- communicate ideas and arguments effectively, with supporting evidence, in class discussion and in writing
- modify as well and defend their own position
- think critically and challenge assumptions
- use and evaluate primary sources and demonstrate an appreciation of how historians have approached them
- use information technology for research and assignment presentation
- manage their time and organise their own study methods and workload
- work effectively with others as part of a team or group in seminar or tutorial discussions
Suggested book purchases
Suggested preparatory reading
Charles Sowerwine, France since 1870 (London: Palgrave, 2000)
Rod Kedward, La vie en Blue: France and the French since 1900 (London: Penguin, 2006)
Robert Gildea, France since 1945 (Oxford, 1996)
Maurice Larkin, France since the Popular Front (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1988)