Spring 2022 - HIST 417W D100

Problems in Modern French History (4)

France Since 1900 in 13 Songs

Class Number: 4591

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5050, Burnaby

  • 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.


France Since 1900 in 13 Songs

Watch the course trailer here

Our subject/themes

Can a playlist be a history? What happens if we approach a national past by focusing on music as an expression of social, economic, cultural, and political forces and change? In this seminar, we will explore the history of twentieth and twenty-first century France by listening to, thinking with, and contextualizing 13 songs. Asking questions about how music can represent a historical moment/era in different ways, we will consider a range of musical genres and styles over more than a century: military and political anthems, French chanson, pop, rock, jazz, rap and hip hop, electronic/dance music, and more. The songs we will study together will help us to think about France as a space of communities and sounds; of complex gendered, classed, racialized, and sexual identities; of political ideologies and conflict; a colonial and postcolonial space; and a space that has contributed to, and been influenced by, global tensions and flows.

Skills we’ll be working on in this course

  • critical reading: understanding and responding to scholarly argument and interpretation
  • audio/visual/media/digital literacy: exploring and learning to use a range of scholarly sources and tools in different media
  • research: formulating compelling research questions; finding and analyzing primary and secondary sources
  • writing: developing skills in different genres while working in stages including free writing, co-writing, drafts, peer response, and revision
  • oral communication +: engaging in group discussion and presentations online via Canvas and in person
Prerequisites: While the formal prerequisites for this course are 45 units, including nine of lower-division history, students with 45 units and six units of lower-division history are welcome to register as well. Please e-mail the instructor for more information.


  • Course participation 20%
  • Short papers 40%
  • Research project 40%


**Assignments and grading may be adjusted before the term begins.



All required course materials (books, articles, music, etc.) will be accessible in electronic form via the SFU Library or the Canvas course site for HIST 417W.

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 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.