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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
Module Credits: 15

In 2023–24, this module will run with face-to-face lectures and seminars.

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, and May 1968?
  • 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, and 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, Vichy and the Resistance. 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, incuding digital resources on Gallica and the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel.

Students taking the module in 2022–23 said:

‘Excellent set of resources’

‘The Module Sourcebook is very comprehensive. I found it particularly interesting to be able to study sources that might not otherwise be accessible’

‘I found the lectures had the most impact on my learning. They were organised and interesting and I felt that I learnt a lot from them’

‘The visit to the Modern Records Centre was particularly interesting’

‘The opportunity to submit and receive feedback on a formative piece was beneficial, as well as group discussion and sharing ideas in the seminars’

‘I was hesitant to take a political module for the first time but I am thoroughly glad that I did!’

Preparatory/vacation reading

  • In preparation for the course, it would be helpful to purchase at least one general textbook or overview of the history of the right, e.g. Chris Millington, A History of Fascism in France, from the First World War to the National Front (2020), or J.G.Shields, The Extreme Right in France from Pétain to Le Pen (2007). You will find full details on recommended reading via the Module Reading List on Talis aspire.
  • All primary material for the module is made available through Moodle and (for written and visual texts) in the Module Sourcebook.

Assessment Method (2023–24 onwards):

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.