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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: Twentieth Century French Political Thought (Ordinary) (ELCF09020)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will examine theoretical reflection about the political ideologies which most marked the French socio-political and cultural landscape during the twentieth century. Appraisal of the various theoretical defenses and critiques which were made of socialism, Marxism, Gaullism, and extreme right-wing politics by French thinkers and politicians will encourage broader consideration of the roles which such tendencies played, and in important ways still do play, in public life in France. With regard to each ideological tendency, students will study primary texts each offering a contrasting perspective to the others, the aim being to highlight the diversity of thinking within schools of political thought.
Course description This course does not assume or require any prior training or specialisation in the field of French political thought or politics studies. It has been structured in such a way that it complements the 2nd year Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France course by covering periods and topics not covered on that course. Insofar as there is very little repetition or duplication of the material covered on the PICF course it hence is beneficial to students who did PICF but also entirely approachable for students who did not.

The course aims to encourage the study of French political thought in a synchronic or thematic way via analysing which political values and ideals constituted each of the major political ideologies, whilst never losing sight along the way of the importance of the diachronic or chronological unfolding of events. Politics can be understood both as a set of institutional arrangements, which manifest themselves in the machinery of democratic political systems (parties, governments, the conventions of democratic political processes, constitutional arrangements and so on) but also as set of ideas which usually correspond to the interests of the individuals and groups who defend them. The study of politics proper requires an awareness of political thought. To some extent, however, it is easier to study political philosophies in some degree of isolation from political events. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind the chronological order in which political trends/ideologies/movements materialised in real-world situations such that the nature and evolution of those political philosophies can be grasped.

We will study the political writings of the French socialists Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum, of the nationalist proto-fascists Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras, and also of Communists associated with the PCF and Gaullists. Our principal time-frame will be up until the end of the De Gaulle presidency so as to avoid direct chronological overlap with PICF.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 Literature and Culture (ELCF08012) AND French 2 Language (ELCF08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Ordinary Students and Visiting Students only
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesIn order to be eligible to take 4th Year Options, Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework essay (1500 words): 80%
Class participation: 10%
In-class presentation: 10%
Feedback The feedback given to you throughout the course is designed to help you improve your future work: you will be given both formative and summative feedback. Formative parts of the assessment: you will receive feedback on your presentation, and more generally on your participation in class and engagement with the course.
From week 8 onwards (or earlier if you wish), you will be able to bring along an essay plan in time for the feedback to be useful for the end-of-course essay. You will also be given summative feedback on your end-of-course essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To demonstrate an advanced knowledge of a significant number of primary source text in their socio-historical and cultural contexts as well as a good understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks needed to analyse them.
  2. To select and apply relevant theoretical and methodological approaches in their critical evaluation of postcolonial theoretical and literary texts and to demonstrate mastery of relevant technical terminology and research methods.
  3. To assess and synthesise primary and secondary sources and to engage critically with these sources, showing awareness of nuance and accommodating ambiguities.
  4. To construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form.
  5. To demonstrate autonomy and initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others' roles and responsibilities as part of a team.
Reading List
Reading List and Course Outline [NB some texts will be available on Learn]
Weeks 1 and 2: Socialism

Jaurès, Les Deux Méthodes
Blum, Pour être socialiste

Weeks 3 and 4: Extreme right

Maurras, Mes Idées politiques
Barrès Scènes et doctrines du nationalisme (extract)
Les Déracinés

Weeks 5 and 6: Marxism

Hue, 'Maurice Thorez, un homme d'état' Lefebvre, Le Matérialisme dialectique Sartre, 'Matérialisme et révolution' pt.I
Stalin Le Matérialisme dialectique et le matérialisme historique

Week 7: Centrism (Alain)

Alain, Propos sur les pouvoirs

Week 8: Cold War Debates

Aron, 'Neutralité ou engagement?' (from Polémiques) Merleau-Ponty 'L'URSS et les camps' (from Signes) Sartre, rousset et al, founding text of the R.D.R.

Week 9: De Gaulle

'L'appel du 18 juin 1940'

'Discours de Bayeux, 16 juin 1946'

'Discours de Strasbourg, 7 avril, 1947'
'Discours du Forum d'Alger, 4 juin 1958'

'Discours pronounce place de la République, 4 septembre 1958'

Week 10: Bourdieu P. Pascalian Meditations chapter 5 parts I-V (so from 'Libido and illusio' to 'Practical Sense and political labour' inclusive) and chapter 6 part XI ('Symbolic Capital')
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsDELC O 20th Fr Pol
Course organiserDr Samuel Coombes
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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