Summer 2019 - HIST 417W D100

Problems in Modern French History (4)

The Dark Years 1940-1944

Class Number: 4360

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Jun 17, 2019: Tue, Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Roxanne Panchasi
    1 778 782-6809
    Office: AQ 6017
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 224 or 225.



An examination of a principal aspect of, or period in, the history of French society since the Revolution. For example, attention may be given to the 19th century French revolutionary tradition, or to society and culture in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Republics, or to colonialism and decolonisation. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 417W may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Writing.


The Dark Years, 1940-1944

The years from 1940 to 1944 in France are often referred to as les années noires or the “dark years”. Defeated by Germany in 1940, France entered a period of occupation, collaboration, and resistance, a period that included multiple material, moral, and psychological challenges. In this upper-division seminar, we will consider the French experience of the Second World War from military defeat through the years of the German occupation and the Vichy regime, forms of resistance within and beyond France’s borders, the “Liberation,” and the war’s end. We will examine the changing nature of French society, politics, and culture; the daily lives of workers and families in urban and rural contexts; the territorial and ideological divisions of the French imperial nation-state; and the role of France in the Holocaust. Beyond 1944, we will reflect on the conflicted memory and legacies of this difficult period in the French past, from the immediate postwar years up to the present.


Examining a range of sources, students in this writing-intensive seminar course will become more fluent in the analysis of the different materials available to historians, including archival documents, memoir, literature, film, and scholarly interpretation/debates over the course and meanings of the Second World War in France and its empire. Through class discussion and brief presentations, students will develop their skills as communicators and public speakers. In addition to a series of shorter writing assignments to be completed in preparation for and during seminar, students will develop their more formal writing skills in assignments focused on course materials. They will also have the opportunity to explore an aspect of the “Dark Years” and their legacies in a more in-depth research project. Throughout the semester, written assignments will be completed in stages including outline and draft development, peer response, and opportunities for revision.


  • Seminar Participation 20%
  • Reading & Film Analyses 50%
  • Research Assignment 30%



Julian Jackson, France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française

*A number of additional selections will also be required and made available via Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

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