University of Notre Dame

Modern France

Course Number: HIST 13184-2
Instructor: Katie Jarvis

The birth of the modern French nation in 1789 was followed by a turbulent adolescence of five republics, two empires, three monarchies, and three major revolutions. Our seminar will ask how the French negotiated this volatile transition from the Old Regime monarchy to contemporary society over the past 225 years. The French debated recurring political questions such as: Who should qualify for citizenship? How should liberty and equality inform social relationships, on the one hand, and economic exchange on the other? We will also examine how the French grappled with a second pivotal question: What does it mean to be French? Of particular importance, the French wrestled with their Catholic heritage, which had united cross and crown for centuries. Moreover, as French colonial ambitions spread across four continents and more immigrants settled in the Hexagon, “French” became an increasingly complex category. These heated debates, along with those of gender and class, have emerged at the forefront of concerns in the 21st century.