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FR264 French Presidents and the Media

Module Code: FR264
Module Name: French Presidents and the Media
Module Coordinator: Professor Jeremy Ahearne
Term 2 in 2020-2021
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

The overall aim of this new module is to allow students to explore the use of the media by French presidents since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

The personalized and powerful office of president is a distinctive feature of the contemporary French polity, and the module will trace important ways in which its exercise and attributes have changed over sixty years. We will look in particular at presidents who have had a strong media profile (such as Charles de Gaulle, Nicolas Sarkozy, or Emmanuel Macron), and assess the advantages and pitfalls of such profiles. We will also look at presidents who have had more trouble in shaping a media profile (such as Jacques Chirac or François Hollande). We will consider questions of presidential performance (particularly on television) as well as overall media policy. We will pay special attention to the ways in which changes in media technologies (from the press to television to the internet) create different political ‘ecosystems’ and contribute to the rise of different species of politician and political ideas. Finally we will consider critical debates on issues such as the personalization of power across the Fifth Republic, relations between gender and leadership, and the dependence of the media on political and commercial powers.

We will explore these matters using a wide range of carefully selected materials (radio and television archives, transcripts of political speeches, public policy documents, public media debates, academic analyses).

Assessment Method:

For 2023-4:

2-hour exam (with 2 essay questions).