Fall 2021 - HUM 340 D900

Great Cities in Their Time (4)

Class Number: 4462

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 8:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SRYC 5080, Surrey

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An exploration of the cultural and intellectual accomplishments of a specific city that achieved prominence in a particular time period, and had substantial impact and influence on human civilization. Examines the political, social, religious, and cultural factors that help to explain a city's significance and investigates the achievements of its citizens. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic. Breadth-Humanities.



For France, and for Paris, the interwar period cannot be described as a time of glory. As the very idea of the interwar indicates, this was a time of transition: in the French case, from victory in WWI to terrible defeat and the collapse of France’s then most successful attempt at establishing republican hegemony in WWII. Yet, in spite of the reputation for decadence, decay and defeat that hangs over the final years of the 3rd Republic, intellectual and cultural production did not come to an end during the occupation. The subsequent reckoning with fascism and collaboration mediates the turn to the postwar world, reasserting the role of Paris as a central cultural and intellectual centre. In 1944-5 this is exemplified by the emergence of existentialism as a political and cultural movement that would have international impact. Our focus will be on the time of extreme situations Paris would endure during 4 years of occupation by Nazi forces. We will look at diaries of the period that explore the tensions and struggles of those caught in these extreme situations, and try to assess how they might prefigure later developments.

The assignments comprise 3 essays, one on the situation during the Vichy period as reflected in the diaries, one on the period during the full Nazi occupation, while the final paper will imagine these authors in dialogue with each other


  • 3 Essays 90%
  • Participation 10%



Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

Ernst Junger, A German Officer in Occupied Paris

The Journal of Helene Berr

Marguerite Duras, The War: A Memoir

Jean Guehenno, Diary of the Dark Years


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 fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods 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 fall 2021 term.