French 120: Culture and Literature of a Student Revolution

Instructor: Elsa Duval

Paris is known for its romantic atmosphere, but it also has a long history of violent incidents. Urban revolts have shaken the city since the Middle Ages, culminating in the French Revolution of 1789. One of the latest incidents, a student revolution, took place in Mai of 1968 and has thus simply been called “Mai 68”. During several days thousands of students occupied the Quartier Latin of Paris and physically fought off the police. They constructed barricades, led public debates, and organized protest actions. At first limited to students, the action led to a widespread strike and had a significant impact on the French political and intellectual scene. This course proposes to study the student uprising of May 1968 in-depth through primary sources and literary production. Through this historical event we will encounter the French social and cultural life of the 1960s. In a first step, we will research the different actors, places, and actions of the revolt. We will then look at the cultural production surrounding the event through literature, music, play and film.