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Politics and the Individual: French Experiences, 1930-1950

'Politics and the Individual: French Experiences, 1930–1950'

Institute of Advanced Study

Millburn House, University of Warwick

Friday, 2 December 2011

9.30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The years 1930–50 are often described as the age of the masses, yet this also meant that individuals were engaging with politics more intensely than ever before. Focusing on France, this study day hopes to shed light on the experience of political commitment in the period, often sidelined in studies of daily life or in more general histories of movements and parties. It aims to explore the relationship between individuals and ideology, between ideology and practice, and to reflect on the role and agency of the individual (as leader, militant, politically engaged artist or writer) in shaping history and historical narrative. How were individuals influenced by ideologies that often privileged the collective, whether in their lives, art, or writings, and how did they adapt or reject these ideologies in practice? How do individual stories relate to wider narratives or collective memory of the period, and what roles did individuals, groups, and networks play in shaping political experience? What scope was there for the agency of ordinary people in these extraordinary times, and how do we — or should we — judge their responsibility? These questions, and others, will be our focus in a study day that aims to explore the relationship between political and the personal in a particular historical and national context.

To register for a place, please contact Dr Jessica Wardhaugh ( or Mr David Lees ( Registration, which includes lunch and tea/coffee, costs £20 (£10 for postgrads/unwaged). Alternatively, please download the registration form and send it with your payment to the address indicated.

For the conference programme, please click here.

For further details on the Institute of Advanced Study, please click here.

Generously funded by the Society for the Study of French History, the Warwick University Humanities Research Centre, and the Department for French Studies