History of France: Keys to Understanding the Nation

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
History
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
French
Prerequisites: 

None

Contact Hours: 
45
Description: 

This course aims to give American students a general understanding of the history of France, from the beginning of the Revolution in 1789 to the present day. With a particular emphasis on historical moments and chronology, this course will focus on the present day in relation to history and other key events. The objective is to analyze cultural landmarks within French history and the history of the French people, in order to better understand contemporary French society.

“All of my life, I’ve had a certain idea of France.” -Charles de Gaulle, L’Appel, 1959.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory. Please note that absences and tardies will prevent you from fully understanding the material of the course and lowers your final grade. In case of illness, please alert your professor and the academics coordinator.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Characterize aspects of each of the Republics
  • Understand France as both a “state” and a “nation”
  • Analyze the major historical events in French history
Method of presentation: 
  • Student participation
  • Course readings
  • External work
  • Reviews of the previous week’s coursework
  • Regular review of pertinent vocabulary
Field study: 

During your time in Paris, visiting historic landmarks is highly recommended. You must choose at least one location to visit and write about; the essay will be discussed with the professor at the beginning of the semester. You must confirm with the professor before choosing a topic. Other locations are possible: give your ideas to the professor at the beginning of the semester!

Your visit must be planned before the presentation. You must provide your professor with a physical ticket to prove that you went to the site.

  • Le château de Fontainebleau
  • Vaux le Vicomte
  • Les Invalides
  • L’Arc de Triomphe
  • Le château de Compiègne
  • Le Château de Rueil-Malmaison
  • L’Opéra Garnier
  • Le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
  • Le Sacre Cœur
  • L’Assemblée Nationale
  • The museum of the First World War (Invalides)
  • The museum of the Second World War (Invalides)
  • The ossuary of Verdun and other sites of the battle of Verdun, or another memorial of the First World War
  • The martyr-village of Oradour sur Glane
  • The Caen Memorial
  • The D-Day beaches
  • The Carnavalet Museum
  • The Pantheon
  • The Pompidou Center
  • The François Mitterrand National Library
  • The Palace of the Porte Dorée and the Museum of Immigration
  • La Conciergerie
  • The Sainte-Chapelle
  • Waterloo (Belgium)
  • The Pere-Lachaise cemetery
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Oral participation, prepared work for each class - 10%
  • Quiz at the beginning of the semester - 10%
  • Essay based on a class visit - 20%
  • Mid-term - 20%
  • Commentary on a historical document (end of semester) - 10%
  • Final exam - 30%

Excursions and Written Assignment
You must choose at least one location to visit and write about; the essay will be discussed with the professor at the beginning of the semester. You must confirm with the professor before choosing a topic.

Conditions for Site Visit
  
Your class presentation must be based on a site visit. Therefore, your visit must be planned before the presentation. You must provide your professor with a physical ticket to prove that you went to the site.  

Presentation Outline

Introduction
Name the location and explain why you chose it, specify the date of your visit and the surrounding circumstances (guided tour, non-guided, group visit, individual…)

Next

  • Show the site on a map (a map of France or Paris, if necessary)
  • Present the history of the location, the context of its construction, its historical evolution in France
  • Show and explain the architectural specifications: elevation, basic map, a few architectural elements
  • Enter into more detail about a specific aspect of the monument or the historical period, or a symbolic event that occurred at this location

Conclusion
Evoke and discuss the historical importance of this location in relation to the global history of France. Provide useful information for visiting the site, and finish with a personal opinion concerning the visit

Bibliographic References for the Presentation

  • Print a few images of the site (exterior/interior); no more than 4 images please! All of the images must have a title, and one of them must have a detailed explanation
  • For references, identify the websites, including the official website (this is sufficient), brochures/documents from the site visit and other works dealing with the subject matter (especially if they are available at IES)
content: 

Lesson

Content

Lesson 1 The Old France (before 1789): society, economy, territory, institutions
Lesson 2 A “big bang,” 1789
Lesson 3 Attempt at the constitutional monarchy (1789-1792)
Lesson 4 The Republic, a “democratic” attempt and return to conservatism (1792-1799)
Lesson 5 From Bonaparte to Napoleon: Reorganization for durability (1799-1814)
Lesson 6 From epic to the Napoleon legend (1804-1848)
Lesson 7 Political instability in the 19th century: the Restoration, the July monarchy (1814-1848)
Lesson 8 Political instability in the 19th century: the promises of the Second Republic (1848-1851)
Lesson 9 Political instability in the 19th century: The Second Empire (1852-1870)
Lesson 10 The Third Republic, uncertain beginnings but a stronger regime (1870-1940)
Lesson 11 Mid-term exam
Lesson 12 From the First World War to the Second World War: France during the First World War (1914-1918)
Lesson 13 From the First World War to the Second World War: The interwar period (1918-1939)
Lesson 14 From the First World War to the Second World War: France in the Second World War (1939-1945)
Lesson 15 Colonial France, from colonization to decolonization (1830-1962)
Lesson 16 The Fourth Republic: economic and social success, political failure (1946-1958)
Lesson 17 De Gaulle and the Fifth Republic (1958-1969)
Lesson 18 The Fifth Republic without De Gaulle (1969-2014)
Lesson 19 France and the European project (1950-2014)

 

Required readings: 

Documents can be downloaded on Moodle. This forms the basis of class preparation and complimentary coursework. The course will be based on the following major work:

  • L’histoire de France, G. Labrune et Ph. Toutain, Reperes pratiques, Nathan, 2011 or more recent editions.

PURCHASING THIS BOOK IS ESSENTIAL AND MANDATORY

Coursework will follow, as close as possible, chronological events. Remember to consult the back of the book (p.144 and beyond) for: biographies, genealogy, chronology, graphics, index and lexicon.

Moodle should be consulted every day. The database includes: documents to read and re-read, assignments, exam dates, the course summary (dates, major actors, course vocabulary)