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The French at War, 1914-1918

Seminar questions:

  • What motivated French soldiers to fight?

  • How unified was France during the war?
  • What factors sustained the French war effort on the home front?

  • How did legacies of the French Revolution and the nineteenth century figure in WWI?

  • In what ways did the war shape French society? What legacies did it have in the twentieth century?

Core reading:

  • L V Smith, ‘Remobilizing the Citizen-Soldier through the French Army Mutinies of 1917,’ in J Horne (ed), State, Society and Mobilization in Europe during the First World War (1997) [digitized book extract]

  • T Stovall, ‘The consumer’s war: Paris, 1914-1918,’ French Historical Studies, 31:2 (2008), 293-325

  • T Stovall, 'The Color Line Behind the Lines: Racial Violence in France during the Great War,' American Historical Review 103 (1998)

  • J Horne, ‘“L’impôt du sang”: Republican Rhetoric and Industrial Warfare in France, 1914-1918,’ Social History 14:2 (1989), 201-23
  • Background: Popkin, History of Modern France, 22-23.

Further reading:

Primary sources


  • M Ferro, The Great War (1993)

  • L V. Smith, S Audoin-Rouzeau and A Becker, France and the Great War, 1914-1918 ( 2003)
  • J J Becker, The Great War and the French People (1985)

The Western Front

  • S. Audoin-Rouzeau, Men at war 1914-1918: National sentiment and trench journalism in France during the First World War (1992)

  • L V Smith, Between mutiny and obedience: the case of the French Fifth Infantry Division during World War (1994)

  • L V. Smith, The Embattled Self: French Soldiers’ Testimony of the Great War (2007)

  • Craig Gibson, ‘The British army, French farmers, and the war on the Western Front, 1914-1918,’ Past and Present, 180 (2003)

  • R Fogarty, Race and War in France (2008)

  • M. Hanna, ‘Spaces of War: Rural France, Fears of Famine, and the Great War,’ in P. M. E. Lorcin and D. Brewer (eds), France and its Spaces of War: Experience, Memory, Image (2009) [ebook]
  • Michelle K. Rhoades, 'Renegotiating French Masculinity: Medicine and Venereal Disease during the Great War,' French Historical Studies 29:2 (2006)

  • M Lyons, 'French Soldiers and the Their Correspondence,' French History 17 (2003), 79-95

  • D Englander, 'The French Soldier, 1914-1918,' French History 1 (1987), 49-67

The Home Front

  • P Miller, From Revolutionaries to Citizens: Anti-Militarism in France, 1870-1914 (2002)

  • S Milner, 'August 1914,' in M Scriven and P Wagstaff (eds) War and Society in Twentieth Century France (1991)

  • R Harris, '"The Child of the Barbarian: Rape, Race and Nationalism in France during the First World War,' Past and Present 141 (1993), 170-206

  • J Horne, Labour at War: France and Britain, 1914-1918 (1991)

  • J Winter and J-L Robert, Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin, 1914-1918 (1997)

  • T Stovall, 'Love, Labor, and Race: Colonial Men and White Women in France during the Great War,' in T Stovall and G Van den Abbeele (eds) French Civilization and its Discontents (2003)

  • J Horne, "Immigrant Workers in France during World War I," French Historical Studies 24 (1985), 57-88;
  • Roxanne Panchasi, “Reconstructions: Prosthetics and the R ehabilitation of the Male Body in World War I France,” differences 7 (1995): 109–41

  • P. Friedenson (ed), The French Home Front (1992)

  • P. J. Flood, France 1914-1918: Public Opinion and the War Effort (1990)

  • J-J Becker, The Great War and the French People (1985)

  • S Grayzel, Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France During the First World War (1999)

  • P. M. E. Lorcin and Daniel Brewer (eds), France and its Spaces of War: Experience, Memory, Image (2009)