The recent “yellow vests” (gilets jaunes) protests in France have attracted international attention to the experiences of French workers. Yet these protests are only the latest example in a series of workers’ movements that have shaped French identity. From the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, to the Popular Front of the 1930s, to the general strike that fueled the events of May 1968, workers have played a significant role in determining France’s sociocultural values and political orientation. In this course, we will study representations of workers in literary and filmic texts dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will consider how depictions of the worker have evolved amid changing sociocultural conditions in France: for instance, the arrival of immigrants from such countries as Spain, Italy, and Portugal, and later from the Maghreb; the entry of women into the workforce; the disappearance of the rural farm worker, or paysan; the creation of a nuclear power grid; and deindustrialization. Finally, we will examine how the memory of workers is preserved in twenty-first-century France. Conducted in French.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
class participation, reaction papers, group discussion leading, and a final project
strong performance in RLFR 105; RLFR 106; another RLFR 200-level course; placement exam; or permission of instructor
French Majors and certificate students