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FR332 Politics and Violence in Modern France

Module Code: FR332
Module Name: Politics and Violence in Modern France
Module Coordinator: Dr Philippe Le Goff
Term 2 Time: Fridays 14:00-16:00 Room: H4.44
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

The aim of this module is to allow students to study a distinctive aspect of modern French politics. France has a history of violence in revolution, counter-revolution, coup d’etat, foreign occupation and protracted colonial wars, not to mention lower-level violence on the streets and in factories. We will look at some influential and important theories of political violence, including those of Georges Sorel, Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. We will also examine actual moments of particularly intense violence -- including: Occupation and Resistance, 1940-1944; the Algerian struggle for independence, 1954-1962; and May 1968 – and ask whether the contemporary French political scene is much less prone to violence than in the past. At the centre of discussion will be important contemporary questions such as: ‘Is political violence always wrong?’ and ‘does liberal democracy represent an advance over other, more explicitly violent forms of political arrangements?’

Key texts:

  • Frantz Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre, Paris, Maspéro, 1961.
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humanisme et terreur, Paris, Gallimard [1947].
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, 'Préface à Fanon', 1961.
  • Georges Sorel, Réflexions sur la violence, Paris, Seuil, [1906] 1990

Assessment Method:

These final-year modules will be examined EITHER by a combination of assessed work (50%) and formal examination (50%) OR solely by assessment (100%).