Undergraduate Course Descriptions

01:420:316 - French Civilization from the Revolution to the Present

This course is intended for majors and minors.

Offered: Spring

Prerequisites: 420:215 and 420:216 or placement at the 300-level.

 Course Description

The course follows the evolution of the French Republic, from its radical onset, the Revolution of 1789, to the riots of 2005. Its primary aim is to provide French majors and minors with enough socio-political background to appreciate the literary and artistic productions of the XIXth and XXth centuries.

We will explore the ways in which historical events give way to cultural movements; how the dizzying succession of monarchic, republican, and imperial regimes fueled the Romanticist and Realist movements in XIXth-century literature and painting; how WWI and WWII inspired Surrealism and Existentialism, respectively; how the anti-authoritarian riots of May 1968 translated into Postmodernism.

We will also look, more critically, at the obstacles that the French Republic, though based on equal rights, imposes on diversity and inclusion. We will do so by studying the highly controversial 2004 ban of religious symbols in schools, as well as past instances of shortcoming or failure of the Republican ideal of liberté, fraternité, égalité, from the oppression of colonized people to the war waged against Algerian independentists, and from the massive corruption of justice surrounding the Dreyfus Affair to the collaboration with Hitler’s regime. A must for anyone interested in an in-depth and nuanced approach to the most visited country in the world!

Course URL - Canvas

Course Satisfies Learning Goals

  • to gain insight into contemporary French society
  • to gain insight into the complex interaction of history and literature, and of politics and aesthetics
  • to learn about XIXth and XXth-century French history and culture
  • to improve your French aural, oral, and writing skills

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

2 in-class exams 20%
2 oral (Zoom) exams 20%
1 final exam 20%
1 oral presentation and paper 20%
Attendance and participation 20%
A detailed explanation for each category can be found on the course syllabus.

Course Materials - Provided by the instructor.

Schedule of Undergraduate Courses