Topics in French History

How does a democracy veer into dictatorship? And how do institutions and individuals then respond to the cult of the leader, the suppression of liberties, the persecutions of certain citizens and non-citizens? The case of Vichy France (1940-1944), which marked the abrupt, unexpected end of the French Republic, crystallizes such questions. Our goal in this course is to understand this sudden turn and to imagine the options open to French and non-French individuals in such circumstances. The course will end with a mini-symposium in which students present their research on specific individuals or institutions under Vichy. Questions we will consider: the erosion of political norms; the mechanics of the Vichy regime; the inner transformation of institutions (police, justice, media, church); social and political pathways toward resistance and collaboration; the responses of Jews and other persecuted groups; the ethics and politics of rescue; the responsibility (and impact) of writers and artists; and ‘internal exile’ as a response to despotism. Wednesdays 2PM-4:30PM

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Spring 2018

Stephane A Gerson
W: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM 25W4 C-20