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Politics and Violence in Modern France

Module Code: FR421
Module Name: Politics and Violence in Modern France
Module Credits: 15

PLEASE NOTE THAT IN OCTOBER 2016 THIS MODULE BEGINS IN WEEK TWO.

The aim of this module is to allow students to study a distinctive aspect of modern French politics. France has a history of revolution, counter-revolution, coup d’etat and foreign occupation, not to mention lower-level violence on the streets and in factories. Students will examine a number of crucial moments of violence in modern French history within a context of some influential and important theories of political violence. At the centre of discussion will be important contemporary questions such as: ‘Is political violence always wrong?’ and ‘In what ways does liberal democracy represent an advance over other, more explicitly violent forms of political arrangements?’

Module Description

  • In this module we will study a distinctive aspect of modern French politics. France has a long history of violence in revolution, counter-revolution, coup d’etat, foreign occupation and protracted colonial wars, not to mention lower-level violence on the streets and in factories.
  • We will look at theories and reflections on political violence, including those of Georges Sorel, Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
  • We will also examine actual moments of particularly intense violence - including: Occupation and Resistance, 1940-1944; the Algerian struggle for independence, 1954-1962; and May 1968 – and ask whether the contemporary French political scene is much less prone to violence than in the past.
  • By the end of the module we will be in a position to fully address such questions as: ‘Is political violence always wrong?’ and ‘Does liberal democracy represent a real advance over other, more obviously violent forms of political arrangements?

Reading List

  • Alain Brossat, Fêtes sauvages de la démocratie, Paris, Editions Austral, 1996.
  • Frantz Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre, Paris, Maspéro, 1961.
  • Jacques Julliard (ed.), Histoire de la France: les conflits, Seuil, 2000.
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humanisme et terreur, Paris, Gallimard [1947].
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, Préface à Fanon, 1961.
  • Georges Sorel, Réflexions sur la violence, Paris, Seuil, [1906] 1990

Assessment Method:

These final-year modules will be examined EITHER by a combination of assessed work (50%) and formal examination (50%) OR solely by assessment (100%).