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Postwar Modernization and its Discontents

Seminar questions:

  • What opportunities did the Second World War provide for modernizers?

  • What were the so-called "trentes glorieuses" and how were they achieved?

  • What was the relationship between technology and French national identity in the postwar period?

  • To what extent was the US a model for postwar France?

  • How did environmentalists respond to technology, modernization and the transformation of the countryside?

  • How useful is the concept of "modernization" in thinking about the history of postwar France?

Core texts:

  • R Kuisel, 'Coco-Cola and the Cold War: The French face Americanization, 1948-53,' French Historical Studies 17 (1991) [electronic]

  • G Hecht, The Radiance of France (1998), chap 1 'A Technological Nation' [ebook]

  • Finish reading A Djebar, Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade

  • Background: Popkin, History of Modern France, ch 31.

Further reading:

  • J-P Rioux, The Fourth Republic (1987)

  • Richard I Jobs, Riding the New Wave (2007)

  • P Nord, France’s New Deal: From the Thirties to the Postwar Era (2010)

  • H Chapman, 'Modernity and National Identity in Postwar France,' French Historical Studies 22:2 (1999)

  • J Clarke, France in the Age of Organization: Factory, Home and Nation from the 1920s to Vichy (2011)

  • R Kuisel, Capitalism and the State in Modern France (1981)

  • K Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (1995)

  • S Hoffmann et al, In Search of France (1963)

  • S Cohen, Modern Capitalist Planning: The French Model (1977)

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

  • A Prost, 'Public and Private Spheres in France,' in A Prost and G Vincent (eds) Riddles of Identity in Modern Times (1991)

  • E Furlough, 'Making Mass Vacations: Tourism and Consumer Culture in France, 1930s to 1970s,' Comparative Studies in Society and History, 40:2 (1998), 247-286

  • W B Newsome, 'The "Apartment Referendum" of 1959: Toward Participatory Architectural and Urban Planning in Postwar France,' French Historical Studies, 28:2 (2005)


  • S Kennedy, ‘André Siegfried and the Complexities of French Anti-Americanism,’ French Politics, Culture, and Society 27:2 (2009), 1-22

  • J Clarke, ‘France, America and the Meta-narrative of Modernization: From Postwar Social Science to the New Culturalism’ Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 8:4 (2004), 365-377

  • Seth D. Armus, ‘The Eternal Enemy: Emmanuel Mounier's Esprit and French Anti-Americanism, French Historical Studies 24 (2001), 271-304

  • R Kuisel, Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization (1997)

  • Irwin M. Wall, The United States and the Making of Postwar France 1945-1954 (1991)

  • V de Grazia, Irresitable Empire: America's Advance Twentieth Century Europe (2005)

  • R Jobs, Tarzan under Attack: Youth, Comics, and Cultural Reconstruction in Postwar France,' French Historical Studies 26 (2003)

  • P. Roger, The American Enemy: A Story of French Anti-Americanism (2005)

  • D Lacorne et al (eds), The Rise and Fall of Anti-Americanism (1990)

Modernization and technology

  • M Bess, The Light-Green Society (2003)

  • S Pritchard, Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhone (2011)

  • G Hecht, The Radiance of France (1998)

  • D Smith ‘Le Temps du plastique’: The Critique of Synthetic Materials in 1950s France,' Modern & Contemporary France, 15:2 (2007), 135-151

  • Robert L. Frost, ‘The flood of “progress”: Technocrats and peasants at Tignes (Savoy), 1946-1952,’ French Historical Studies, 14:1 (1985), 117-40

  • D Pace, ‘Old wine, new bottles: Atomic energy and the ideology of science in postwar France,’ French Historical Studies, 17:1 (1991), 36-61

  • Cecil O. Smith, ‘The longest run: Public engineers and planning in France,’ American Historical Review, 95:3 (1990), 657-92

The Changing Countryside

  • M Bess, Light-Green Society (2003)

  • S B Pritchard, Confluence (2011)

  • Modern and Contemporary France, special issue on ‘Tradition and Modernity in Rural France,’ 11:3 (2003)

  • S C Rogers, Shaping Modernities in Rural France: The Transformation and Reproduction of an Aveyronnais Community (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991)

  • S C Roger, 'Good to Think: The Peasant in Contemporary France,' Anthropological Quarterly 60:2 (1987)

  • S B Pritchard, ‘“Paris et le désert français: Urban and rural environments in post-World War II France,’ in Andrew C. Isenberg (ed.), The Nature of Cities (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006), 175-91

  • X de Plandol, Historical Geography of France (1994)

  • G Wright, Rural Revolution in France (1964)

  • L Wylie, Village in the Vaucluse (1957)

  • C Pearson, Scarred Landscapes: War and Nature in Vichy France (2008), chap 5

  • S Farmer, 'Memoirs of French Peasant Life: Progress and Nostaglia in Postwar France, French History 25:3 (2011)

Challenging Postwar modernization: environmental and anti-nuclear movements

  • Alain Touraine, Anti-nuclear protest : the opposition to nuclear energy in France (1983)

  • Bess, Light-Green Society (2003)

  • Pritchard, Confluence (2011), chap 7

  • G Hecht, Radiance of France (1998)

  • Tony Chafer, ‘The anti-nuclear movement and the rise of political ecology,’ in Philip G. Cerny (ed.), Social Movements and Protest in France (London: Frances Pinter, 1982), 202-20

  • Graeme Hayes, Environmental Protest and the State in France (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2002)

  • Joseph Szarka, The Shaping of Environmental Policy in France (Oxford: Berghahn, 2002)