France is a country of revolution, deeply and powerfully associated with left-wing political ideals and activism. And yet the right is often in power, and the extreme right exceptionally strong. In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen broke into the second round of the presidential elections, and in 2012 his daughter Marine won almost 18% of the national vote, before winning over 40% in the first round of the 2015 regional elections. How is this possible?
This module offers a fascinating journey into the development of the ideas, culture, and engagement of the French right, and an opportunity to analyse and debate some of the most controversial aspects of modern French history and politics. Was there a French fascism in the twentieth century, and if so, where did it come from? Why has anti-Semitism been so strong in a country committed to liberty and equality? How has the French right defined itself on the European stage? Why are the French apparently so drawn to strong right-wing leaders such as Pétain and de Gaulle? Why has the extreme right remained so vigorous, and how can we explain the increasing success of Marine Le Pen?
The lectures and seminars will address these questions through a rich variety of source material, with opportunities to work on extracts from unpublished archival material, radio broadcasts, film, memoirs, novels, and the press.
One week of the module will normally include a visit to the Modern Records Centre to view the collections relating to the history of the French right, especially Vichy and the Occupation. (Exact date TBC).
- In preparation for the course, it would be helpful to study at least one general textbook or overview of the history of the right, especially J.G.Shields, The Extreme Right in France from Pétain to Le Pen (2007) [recommended for purchase/download]. Other textbooks include Nicholas Atkin and Frank Tallett (eds), The Right in France, 1789-1997 (1997) and Peter Davies, The Extreme Right in France, from 1789 to the Present (2002). Please see the further reading tab and the lectures and seminars page for detailed further reading and specific recommended reading for each week.
50% - Assessed work (one essay of between 2,000 and 2,500 words in length; OR one essay of between 1,000 and 1,250 words AND one commentary of between 1,000 to 1,250 words)
50% - Formal examination