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May '68 and After

Seminar questions:

  • What factors led to the outbreak of protests and strikes in May 1968?

  • How radical were the “events” of May 1968?

  • What, if anything, changed in 1968?

  • What was the impact of 1968 in terms of sexual liberation?

  • How have the memories and meanings of the “events” evolved since 1968?

  • Was 1968 a turning point in French history?

Core Texts:

  • K Ross, May 1968 and its Afterlives (2002), introduction [digitized book extract]

  • M Seidman, The Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968 (2004), chapter one 'Sex, Drugs and Revolution.' [digitized book extract]

  • M Sibalis, ‘The spirit of May '68 and the origins of the gay liberation movement in France,’ in L J Frazier and D Cohen (eds), Gender and Sexuality in 1968 (2009) [ebook]

  • J Jackson, 'The Mystery of May 68', French Historical Studies 33: 4 (2010), 625-653 [electronic]

  • Background: Popkin, History of Modern France, ch. 32.

Further reading:

Primary sources:


Historiographical reviews

  • Julian Jackson, ‘The mystery of May 1968,’ French Historical Studies, 33:4 (2010), 621-53

  • R Gildea, ‘Forty Years On: French Writing on 1968 in 2008,’ French History 23:1 (2009)

Immediate reactions to the “events”

  • P Seale, French revolution 1968 (1968)

  • A Schnapp and P Vidal-Naquet (eds.), The French Student Uprising November 1967 – June 1968: An Analytical Record (1971)

  • H Lefebvre, The Explosion: Marxism and the French Revolution (1969)

  • A. Belden Fields, ‘The Revolution Betrayed: The French Student Revolt of May-June 1968," in S M Lipset and P G. Altbach (eds.), Students in Revolt (1969), 127-166

  • J Gretton, Students and Workers: An Analytical Account of Dissent in France, May-June 1968 (London: Macdonald, 1969)

  • Posner, Charles (ed.), Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1968 (1970)

More recent work

  • M A Bracke, ‘May 1968 and Algerian Immigrants in France: Trajectories of Mobilization and Encounter,’ in G K Bhambra and I Demir (eds), 1968 in Retrospect : history, theory, alterity (2009)

  • D A Gordon, ‘Memories of 1968 in France: reflections on the 40th anniversary’ in I Cornils and S Waters (eds), Memories of 1968 (2010)

  • D A Gordon, Immigrants and Intellectuals: May '68 and the Rise of Anti-Racism in France (2012)
  • J Jackson et al (eds), May 68: Rethinking France's last Revolution (2011)

  • D Reid, ‘Les jeunes insepecteurs’: Ideology and Activism among Labour Inspectors in France after May 1968,’ French History 8:3 (1994), 296-315

  • A Quattrocchi, The beginning of the end: France, May 1968 (1998)

  • D Caute, Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades (1988)

  • R Viénet, Enragés and Situationists in the Occupation Movement: France, May '68 (1992)

  • J Bourg, 'The Red Guards of Paris: French Student Maoism of the 1960s,' History of European Ideas 31:4 (2005), 472-490

  • J Bourg, From Revolution to Ethics: May 68 and Contemporary French Thought (2007)

  • M Atack, May 68 in French Fiction and Film: Rethinking Society, Rethinking Representation (1999)

  • K A Reader, The May 1968 Events in France: Reproduction and Interpretations (1993)

  • A Feenberg and J Freedman, When Poetry Ruled the Streets: The French May Events of 1968 (2001)

  • C Warne, ‘Bringing Counterculture to France: Actuel Magazine and the Legacy of May ’68,’ Modern & Contemporary France, 15:3 (2007), 309-24

  • E Shorter and C Tilly (eds), Strikes in France 1830-1968 (1974)

  • R Wolin, The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution and the Legacy of the 1960s (2010)

  • I Gilcher-Holtey, ‘France,’ in M Klimke and J Scharloth (eds.), 1968 in Europe: A History of Protest and Activism (2008)

  • J Bourg, From Revolution to Ethics: May 1968 and contemporary French Thought (2007)

  • M Seidman, The Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968 (2004)

  • J Jackson, Living in Arcadia (2009), chap 7

  • C Duchen, Women’s Rights and Women’s Lives in France, 1944-1968 (1994)

  • M. Atack, May 68 in French Fiction and Film: Rethinking Society, Rethinking Representation (1999)

The transnational dimension

  • G-R Horn, The Spirit of 1968: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956-1976 (2007)

  • Arthur Marwick, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, c.1958-c.1974 (Oxford, 1998)

  • R I Jobs, ‘Youth Movements: Travel, Protest, and Europe in 1968,’ American Historical Review 114:2 (2009)