FREN 5585 and 8585

Thinking France in the World

FREN 5585 and 8585

Thinking France in the World

Spring 2022

What does it mean to think about “France in the world”? Starting from the controversy around the 2017 L’Histoire mondiale de la France (France in the World: A New Global History), we will explore France’s global interactions from the medieval to the post-WW2 periods, how these interactions have shaped France and its interlocutors, and how scholars understand this history today. Readings and discussions in English (French optional).

  • Offered simultaneously with HIEU 5585 and 8585
  • This combined section course will be offered by Professors Janet Horne (French) and Jennifer Sessions (History)
  • This course will be taught in English, with the option to read and write in French for those students who wish to do so.

Course Objectives

The central goal of this interdisciplinary course is to explore what it means to think about “France in the world” as a framework for French history and culture. First, to understand how scholars have reconceptualized national histories “in the world” as being inherently and reciprocally global, imperial, and transnational, we will examine key theoretical and conceptual statements drawn from a range of fields. 

Second, we will examine the particular stakes--intellectual, cultural, and ideological--of this new approach for French studies through the controversy sparked by the publication of the 2017 volume L’Histoire mondiale de la France (France in the World: A New Global History).

Finally, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of how France has been shaped by its global interactions and how we understand the enduring impact of those interactions today.

Readings will cover a broad chronological span, focusing on works that place medieval, revolutionary, Third Republic, and postwar France in global, imperial, and transnational contexts. We will have the opportunity to discuss some of these texts with their authors, who will join our seminar in person or virtually.

This seminar will allow graduate students in a variety of fields to develop their understanding of global methodologies, as well as of modern French history, and to think more deeply about how that history intersects with their own research and teaching agendas. It will offer preparation for teaching, research, and other endeavors in French history and culture, European studies, global history, and related fields. Open to advanced undergraduates by permission.

Since students will enter this course with varying backgrounds and interests, the seminar will adopt a collaborative learning model and give participants the flexibility to choose writing assignments tailored to their intellectual and professional goals. We will meet with each student early in the semester to discuss writing options and goals for the semester.