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FR256 The Right in France from the Dreyfus Affair to the Present

Module Code: FR256
Module Name: The Right in France from the Dreyfus Affair to the Present
Module Coordinator: Dr Jessica Wardhaugh
Term 2
Module Credits: 15

N.B. Students taking this module should have French at A-Level (or equivalent) standard

Module Description

France is a country of revolution, deeply associated with left-wing political ideals and activism. Yet the right is often in power, and the extreme right exceptionally strong. In April 2022, Marine Le Pen secured a spectacular 41.4% of the vote in the second round of the presidential elections, coming closer to power than ever before. How is this possible?

This module takes a fascinating journey through the development of the ideas, culture, and popular politics of the French right, tracing its importance from the late nineteenth century to the present day. With opportunities to explore a rich variety of written, visual, and audio-visual material, the module enhances historical awareness and develops key skills for the critical analysis of contemporary politics.

  • How does the French right imagine society and politics, nation and Empire? How does this change?
  • What role has the right played in moments of crisis and controversy, such the Dreyfus Affair, the Great Depression, Vichy France, the Algerian War of Independence, May 1968, and the gilets jaunes protests?
  • How does the right target specific categories of supporters, such as workers, women, and young people?
  • In what ways have charismatic leaders such as Pierre Poujade, Charles de Gaulle, and Marine Le Pen used the media to seek power, legitimacy, and support?
  • Why has the extreme right remained so vigorous? How can we explain the increasing success of figures such as Marine Le Pen?

One week of the module normally includes a visit to the Modern Records Centre for hands-on experience with their archival collections on the 1930s, the Resistance, and May 1968. You can find out more by viewing our short film, made with previous students on this module.

Advice and support are always available from the module tutor on how to include original research in your formative and summative work, whether you would like to work in the Modern Records Centre or to explore digital resources on Gallica and the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel.

Students taking the module in 2023–24 said:

‘The lectures are really well delivered and very informative’

‘The seminar discussions definitely help to reinforce the essential reading outside of the seminars’

‘Sourcebook was clear and accessible’

‘Jessica was very attentive to student needs and always more than happy to go through things with me outside of class time. I have not done a lot of politics or history in my academic career so I asked quite a lot of questions but she was always super polite and seemed more than happy to help’

‘I really enjoyed the trip to the Modern Records Centre’

‘The Sourcebook and reading list are both very comprehensive’

‘This module is very challenging in a good way — it gives space for you to go as deep or shallow into the subjects that you decide you enjoy’

‘I really enjoyed this module!’

Preparatory/vacation reading

Assessment Method (2024–25):

One 2250-2500-word essay (70%) + one 1250-1500-word close analysis (30%). You are welcome to write on your own choice of question or source, provided that you agree your choice with the module tutor.

Seminars include group work on strategies for writing essays and close analyses. Sample essays and analyses from previous years are also available for consultation on the Moodle page.