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


Paris, France



June 5-July 5 (5 weeks)


Summer Program

Summer Program Type

Summer Program Audience


Richard J. Golsan or Nancy Golsan
Department of European and Classical Languages and Cultures
205 Academic Building
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4215
979/845-8328, 979/845-8329, or 979/324-5522 ;

“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.