Before and after Vichy: Conflicts and Culture in France, 1930-1944

Languages & Cultures, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

College of Arts and Law


Code 22623

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1 and 2

Module description

This module will focus on the relationships between culture and politics in France in the period 1930-1944. It will begin by addressing questions around periodisation, questioning the idea that the year 1930 marked a point of rupture in inter-war cultural production and problematising retrospective definitions of the 1930s as the pre-war decade. It will then consider the politicisation of literature on the left and the right in the 1930s, looking at the relationships between political polarisation and cultural production, but also taking account of mainstream cultural production which avoided militancy. In addition to an analysis of the key representative texts of 1930s littérature engagée (eg Nizan, Aragon, Drieu la Rochelle), the question of gender conflict in the inter-war period will be addressed, and texts by female authors will also be analysed (eg Edith Thomas). The Occupation period will be considered from the point of view of cultural activity and its relationship to collaboration and resistance. Again, attention will be paid to the experiences and activities of both male and female intellectuals. Finally, the module will consider the memorialisation of the Vichy period in post-war France by focusing on the recent publishing success in France and Britain of texts by Irène Némirovsky, Hélène Berr and Agnès Humbert.