Spring 2021 - HIST 417W D100

Problems in Modern French History (4)

The Paris Commune-150th Anniversary Edition

Class Number: 5718

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • 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 Paris Commune-150th Anniversary Edition

Our subject/themes

In 2021, the Paris Commune of 1871 turns 150 years old. A century and a half ago, following over a year of wartime, siege, hardship, and deprivation, the working-class people of Paris rose up in opposition to their national government. The population of the French capital rejected defeat, refused to give up the city’s defenses, and formed a revolutionary government. Over the course of ten weeks from March to May 1871, the Commune held elections, and attempted to bring about radical political, economic, social, and cultural change. This seminar will examine the history and legacies of the Paris Commune, its political and scholarly interpretations, as well as its gendered, class-divided, national, international, and imperial meanings and representations, from the late-nineteenth century to the present.


Skills we’ll be working on in this course

In this writing-intensive seminar, you will develop your skills in the following areas:

critical reading: developing familiarity with the major events, themes, and debates surrounding the Paris Commune and its legacies, in France and more globally

research: working with a range of primary and secondary sources across different media

writing: completing a series of assignments focused on the Paris Commune, and by developing these projects in stages including outlines, drafts, peer response, and revision

oral communication +: engaging in group discussion and presentations during online synchronous class sessions, as well as sharing images, audio and video recordings remotely

online literacy: exploring and learning to use a range of digital tools/resources available to historians


  • Seminar participation (synchronous & asynchronous) 10%
  • Roleplaying assignment 10%
  • Short papers 40%
  • Research project 40%



Our readings

Required course materials will be accessible in electronic form and available online, via the SFU Library, or our Canvas course site. Students may wish to purchase print copies of the books on their own in advance of the beginning of term.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).