What is Frenchness?

“Boy, those French, they have a different word for everything!”
                                                                            Steve Martin

From baguettes and red wine to the Eiffel Tower, we all carry around an idea of what defines « Frenchness ». In this course, we will explore the idea of Frenchness from the point of view of three key concepts that have formally shaped French national identity since the French Revolution: « universalism, » « laïcité » [secularism], and « patrimoine » [cultural heritage]. As contemporary France has evolved, socially and demographically, these three concepts have been subject to increasing pressures. We will explore the history of these concepts, as well as their evolution up to the present day in a series of readings that span two centuries. We will consider how these core concepts continue to inform the political and cultural dynamics of France as it grapples with its colonial past, its postcolonial present and its place in a changing Europe.

This course is primarily for upper-level students.

Coursepack (available from instructor) plus texts tba

Prerequisite: Second-year standing

Not available for credit toward a Minor, Major or Honours program in French.

Course Registration