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French Crowds, Mobs, and Mobilities
FREN 310
Spring 2018
Section: 01  

Under the date of 14th July 1789, Louis XVI entered in his diary but one word: "Rien." That day, a crowd of sans-culottes flooded the streets of Paris, overwhelmed the guards, and captured the Bastille. What the king could not foresee is the political power of a mob, a "foule," deriving its etymology and strength from the pressure of thousands of feet pounding the pavement. From this founding event on, the building of the French nation could be read as a history of mobile crowds kept alive today in yearly student and union demonstrations. How does "rien" become the emblematic event of French national identity? What moves a crowd, and what does a crowd move? What do such gatherings accomplish, and how do they form in France and why?
Drawing on French sociology and literature, this course will explore the influence that crowds have exerted on French politics, society, and aesthetics. We will discuss the power of numbers by focusing on major subversive events in French history from the 18th century to contemporary France: the French Revolution, Chouanneries, barricades and the Commune in Paris, and May 1968, but also colonial and immigrant demonstrations in France. Students will be encouraged to relate the course to their own experience of mobile crowds, in concerts or sports events, on more quotidian moves such as commuting, and to draw comparisons with demonstrations across time and space, such as the "Arab Spring."
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RLAN
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on DEC-15-2017
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