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France's Haunting Past: Recent Debates on Twentieth-Century French History and National Identity

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“France's Haunting Past: Recent Debates on Twentieth Century French History and National Identity” is a five-week college and university faculty seminar for sixteen participants to examine recent debates in France concerning Vichy and the Holocaust. Directed by Richard Golsan (French, Texas A&M University) and hosted by the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent (IHTP), the seminar takes place in Paris, France.  Focusing on the key events and debates concerning the Vichy past and French complicity in the Holocaust, the seminar seeks answers to several difficult and pressing questions: Why have the conflicts and traumas of the war years become so controversial in contemporary France? Why do they play such a central role in French political and cultural life? What do they tell us about French national identity at the present time? Do these events contribute to a better understanding of the historical realities of the 1930s and 1940s, or do they distort public perceptions of those realities? What can the French experience tell us about the complicated relationship between “history” and “memory”?  The seminar approaches these questions through an exploration of four key areas: 1) France’s experience of devastating destruction during World War I, 2) Vichy and the so-called années noires, 3) the controversy sparked by the publication of The Black Book of Communism, 4) the history and memory of the Algerian War.  Readings include: Henry Rousso, Vichy: An Ever Present Past; Richard Golsan, Vichy’s Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France; Robert Laffont (ed.), The Black Book of Communism; Patrick Modiano, Dora Bruder; Paul Aussaresse, The Battle of the Casbah; François Maly and Benjamin Stora, François Mitterrand et la guerre d’Algérie; and Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt. Guest scholars Henry Rousso (IHTP), Nathan Bracher (Texas A&M University), Annette Becker (L’université de Paris X-Nanterre), Pascal Bruckner (L’Institut d’Études Politiques), Malika Rahal (IHTP) and Nicholas Werth (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) lecture and lead site visits to the Mémorial de la Déportation and the Mémorial de la Shoah, the Mont Valérien and the Mémorial de la France Combattante, and the Douaumont Ossuarium. 

Dates: June 5-July 5 (5 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: Texas A&M University
Location: Paris, France

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.