Contemporary French Civilization

Putting the “Studies” in French Studies: Historians and social scientists in departments of French

Contemporary French Civilization (2015), 40, (1), 25–48.

Abstract

The eight authors of this article, all historians or social scientists teaching in departments of French at American universities, assess the multidisciplinary field of “French Studies” today. The article elaborates on our experiences teaching and researching French and francophone history, society, politics, and culture. In particular, it addresses pedagogical challenges, study abroad, interdepartmental collaboration, institutional pressures, the impact of globalization, and graduate training. French departments can develop their role by promoting multidisciplinary dialogues about a French and francophone world whose literature, history, and social arrangements remain questions of wide import. These questions include postcolonial identities, territory and identification, multiculturalism and assimilation, the fate of the welfare state, and the future of a rich, idiosyncratic cultural and political tradition in a globalizing world.

Les huit auteurs de cet article, tous historiens ou spécialistes des sciences sociales enseignant dans les départements de français d’universités américaines, font le point sur la situation actuelle du domaine pluridisciplinaire des “études françaises”. L’article est fondé sur leur expérience d’enseignantschercheurs en histoire, sciences sociales, politique, et culture. On y aborde en particulier les questions touchant aux défis pédagogiques, aux séjours à l’étranger, à la collaboration entre les départements, aux diverses pressions provenant des institutions universitaires, à l’impact de la mondialisation, et à la préparation des étudiants avancés. Les départements de français peuvent assumer leur rôle en promouvant un dialogue pluridisciplinaire portant sur les mondes français et francophone dont la littérature, l’histoire, et les réalités sociales restent des sujets de grande importance. Les questions en débat comprennent les identités post-coloniales, les rapports entre territoire et identité ainsi qu’entre multiculturalisme et assimilation, le sort de l’Etat-providence, et l’avenir d’une tradition culturelle et politique riche et idiosyncratique dans un univers mondialisé.

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