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Sources for French History and Civilization Courses: the Great War

April 8, 2013
By Rachel

From the Union sacrée to trench warfare, these sources have been effective in introducing to one of the most formative events of twentieth-century France: World War One (or “The Great War” as it was called before there was a second). As with the other materials I choose for teaching history and civilization, my concern is to present students with primary sources. They will get an overarching historical narrative in the lectures and the textbook, but we focus at least half of our class time – and all of our writing assignments – on the analysis of primary materials, including the ones below. *** l’Union sacrée To begin, we read selected essays in Maurice Barrès’ l’Union Sacrée. Published in 1915, the title of this collection of articles – originally published in l’Écho de Paris during the first months of the war – is taken from the prevailing notion that, in 1914, French people of all political colors were unified in opposition to the German threat. Barrès of course represents the political right, but he puts aside his ideological differences (or at least makes an attempt) to remember Jean Jaurès, for example. His articles are an entry into this idea of a national Read more »

Sources for French History and Civilization Courses: the 1920s

October 1, 2012
By Rachel
Rouault Miserere Cover

Delving into “les années folles” means talking about the trauma of rebuilding after the Great War, “les classes creuses” it caused and by extension, the pronatalist movement, a new silhouette for women’s fashion, Josephine Baker and the jazz clubs of Paris, surrealism… Below are some of the...Read more »

Studying questions of integration and identity

August 17, 2012
By Rachel
République française

It is often observed that the French model of integration differs greatly from the U.S. idea of multiculturalism, in both theory and practice. When the term “multiculturalism” even comes up in France, it is without fail with negative undertones, referring to a segregated American...Read more »

Primary Source: Vichy-era agenda from 1941

August 16, 2012
By Rachel
Screen Shot 2012-08-16 at 11.28.57 AM

While living in France a few years ago, I found this old agenda in a pile of post-flea-market trash. Not knowing exactly what I had found, I picked it up along with some other books someone deemed no longer relevant. This piece of Vichy-era...Read more »

The future, as it was: France, en l’an 2000

July 31, 2012
By Rachel

The Public Domain Review just put together this collection of images published as postcards for the 1900 World’s Fair. This would be a great source for discussing the turn of the 19th century (civilization/culture/society/technology) or for practicing the imperfect and conditional: “En l’an 2000,...Read more »

Actualités: Inauguration of Google’s new headquarters in Paris

December 6, 2011
By Rachel
Google Press Conference December 6, 2011, Paris

Film: Visite inaugurale du nouveau siège de Google France Google France opened a new headquarters in Paris today – an event which, interestingly, merited a press conference with none other than President Sarkozy and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt. Given the rocky relationship between the technology...Read more »