Summer 2015 - HIST 417W D100

Problems in Modern French History (4)

Class Number: 3579

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 11 – Aug 10, 2015: Mon, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 14, 2015
    Fri, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • 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. Students with credit for HIST 417 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Problems in Modern French History: Islam, Immigration & Integration in France

The violent events that occurred in France earlier this year were immediately followed by a great deal of ill-informed hysterical proclamations about the disastrous “failure of integration” in that country. Even those commentators from France and abroad who tried to calmly analyze the situation tended to ignore the historical dimension that is required to truly understand the challenges facing all French people today. The truth is that immigration has been central to French debates over identity, culture, politics, society, and empire for well over a century.         
In this class, we will study the multiple migratory waves that have reshaped France over the course of the twentieth century. We will pay special attention to the history of Muslim immigrants in France, and examine the government’s efforts to either assimilate the new arrivals or exclude them from French society. We will also look at the ways in which the “native” French interacted with Muslims in metropolitan France and the colonies, and we will try to understand the experience of immigration from the perspective of the immigrants themselves and their children. We will also discuss contemporary debates over the role of religion in French society and the anxiety generated by Islamic symbols ranging from veils to mosques.


  • Preparation & participation 25%
  • Book review 15%
  • Response papers 10%
  • Paper outline & annotated bibliography 5%
  • Final paper (with “cover letter”) 45%



Davidson, Naomi. Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012.  

Mandel, Maud. Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Scott, Joan. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Shepard, Todd. The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.

Registrar Notes:

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