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Happy Bastille Day

paris-1293750_1920Celebrated on July, 14, Bastille Day is the French national day and one of the most important bank holidays in France. The day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789, a medieval fortress and prison which was a symbol of tyrannical Bourbon authority and had held many political dissidents, and symbolizes the end of absolute monarchy and the birth of sovereign Nation.

The following year, the Fête de la Fédération was held in Paris and across the nation by a populace that largely believed the French Revolution was over. As it turned out, they were mistaken–and by 1791 there was little in the way of national unity to celebrate. The holiday wasn’t picked up again until 1878 when it was a one-time official feast to honor the French Republic, which was followed by an unofficial, popular celebration of the day in 1879, which in turn led to a call to make it an official holiday in 1880 complete with a military parade which has been an annual fixture ever since.

We’re delighted to suggest a selection of French Studies titles to browse through:


Berghahn Monographs in French Studies Series

France has played a central role in the emergence of the modern world. The Great French Revolution of 1789 contributed decisively to political modernity, and the Paris of Baudelaire did the same for culture. Because of its rich intellectual and cultural traditions, republican democracy, imperial past and post-colonial present, twentieth-century experience of decline and renewal, and unique role in world affairs, France and its history remain important today. This series publishes monographs that offer significant methodological and empirical contributions to our understanding of the French experience and its broader role in the making of the modern world.

For a full list of titles in the series please visit the webpage.


The Bourgeois Revolution in France 1789-1815Volume 5


Henry Heller


The book is well worth reading as a lively critique of the various revisionist attempts to deny the class character of the French Revolution, and a summary of (some of) the relevant evidence.  · Weekly Worker


France in the Age of Organization: Factory, Home and Nation from the 1920s to Vichy Volume 11 Paperback

Factory, Home and Nation from the 1920s to Vichy

Jackie Clarke


“…a rich story of social science and interdisciplinarity in the service of addressing the pressing concerns of interwar France.”  · H-France

Read Introduction

Building a European Identity: France, the United States, and the Oil Shock, 1973-74Volume 12 Paperback

France, the United States, and the Oil Shock, 1973-74

Aurélie Élisa Gfeller


“…this is a valuable addition to the existing literature on the impact of the October 1973 energy crisis on French national policy, the evolution of the European Community, and the nature of the transatlantic relationship.” · American Historical Review


General de Gaulle's Cold War: Challenging American Hegemony, 1963-68Volume 13 Paperback

Challenging American Hegemony, 1963-68

Garret Joseph Martin


“While there is a lot of information for readers to take in, the subject is inherently complex, spanning different aspects of French foreign policy and the politics of other countries and institutions. In spite of this complexity, Martin displays a good grasp of the material.” · H-France Review


At Home in Postwar France: Modern Mass Housing and the Right to ComfortVolume 14

Modern Mass Housing and the Right to Comfort

Nicole C. Rudolph


“All in all a book well worth reading; it examines and presents with great sensitivity and insight a French modernizing project that has been alien to the German as well as Anglo-Saxon public.” · H-Soz-Kult

Read Introduction

National Policy, Global Memory: The Commemoration of the “Righteous” from Jerusalem to Paris, 1942-2007Volume 15


The Commemoration of the “Righteous” from Jerusalem to Paris, 1942-2007

Sarah Gensburger


“Gensburger’s work which provides a wealth of detail about the individual actors, as well as the interest groups, lobbying for the recognition of non-Jews who came to the aid of Jewish victims of Nazi policies throughout World War II-era Europe.…” • International Social Science Review

Read Introduction: From “The Righteous among Nations” to the “‘Righteous of France”

Of Related Interest:


An Introduction
Frédéric Bozo
Translated by Jonathan Hensher


“Bozo commands the details of his country’s foreign policy, and he never gets lost in them. French foreign policy, in his view, changes far less than the grand rhetorical declarations of successive presidents might lead one to expect.” · Foreign Affairs

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Edited by Gabriel Goodliffe and Riccardo Brizzi


“…a work of seminal scholarship and very highly recommended for academic library International Studies collections in general, and 21st Century French Political History supplemental reading lists in particular.” · MBR Bookwatch

Read Introduction



Imaginaries of Freedom and Control
Edited by Alessandro Zagato
Afterword by Bruce Kapferer

Volume 15, Critical Interventions: A Forum for Social Analysis


The January 2015 shooting at the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the subsequent attacks that took place in the Île-de-France region were staggeringly violent events. They sparked an enormous discussion among citizens and intellectuals from around Europe and beyond. By analyzing the effects the attacks have had in various spheres of social life, including the political, ideology, collective imaginaries, the media, and education, this collection of essays aims to serve as a contribution as well as a critical response to that discussion.

Read Introduction: The Event of Charlie Hebdo – Imaginaries of Freedom and Control



A Suburban Housing Development in Greater Paris
Marie Cartier, Isabelle Coutant, Olivier Masclet, and Yasmine Siblot
Translated by Juliette Rogers

Volume 1, Anthropology of Europe


“This splendid and nuanced volume provides long-needed corrections to images from literature, cinema, news, and social science that have reduced Parisian suburbs to a dystopian vision of crime-ridden towers and despairing immigrants… Given the rich, careful data, the complex analyses, and the sensitive evocations of families divided by place, decisions, and success, this book should stimulate vastly enriched, comparative examinations of metropolitan Paris in its global context. It is also a provocative read about class, place, education, aspiration, and anxiety for social scientists and citizens worldwide …Essential.” · Choice

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Political Mythologies and Film Events, 1945-1995
Hugo Frey


“[The author’s] reduced scrutiny of the fine detail of films themselves is part and parcel of Frey’s admirable commitment to unearthing hidden and often fascinating contextual histories… The detailed excavation of the relationship with radical right wing politics engaged in by the popular actors Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot will also be of great interest to many readers.” · French History

Read Introduction: From International ‘High Art’ to the Parisian Political Melee


French Cinema and the Culture of Authorship
Codruţa Morari


“Superbly written in a lucid and elegant style, this is an important intervention in French cinematic and cultural history. The Bressonians offers a series of compelling readings of important filmmakers, and demonstrates an illuminating attentiveness to the aesthetic texture of their films.” · Scott Durham, Northwestern University

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Political and Intellectual Movements from Conservatism to Fascism
Edited by Samuel Kalman and Sean Kennedy


“Organized thematically into three sections and concluding with William Irvine’s astute historiographical commentary, this edited volume unhinges analyses of the French political and intellectual Right from long-standing debates over whether France was “immune” tof ascism, and how to categorize its Rightist leagues… Highly recommended.” · Choice


Burgundy: A Global Anthropology of Place and TasteBURGUNDY
A Global Anthropology of Place and Taste
Marion Demossier

Volume 43, New Directions in Anthropology


“A rare gem: well-conceived, beautifully written, carefully illustrated, loaded with original insights—this book has the potential to capture a wide audience of educated readers and wine lovers (not to mention intrigued academics)… What takes this book far beyond what is currently on the market is the author’s genuinely transnational approach.” · Kolleen M. Guy, University of Texas, San Antonio

Read Introduction

From Berghahn Journals


French Politics, Culture & Society

Journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

French Politics, Culture & Society explores modern and contemporary France from the perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural analysis. It also examines France’s relationship to the larger world, especially Europe, the United States, and the former French Empire. The editors also welcome pieces on recent debates and events, as well as articles that explore the connections between French society and cultural expression of all sorts (such as art, film, literature, and popular culture).


Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques

Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques has established a well-deserved reputation for publishing high quality articles of wide-ranging interest for over forty years. The journal, which publishes articles in both English and French, is committed to exploring history in an interdisciplinary framework and with a comparative focus. Historical approaches to art, literature, and the social sciences; the history of mentalities and intellectual movements; the terrain where religion and history meet: these are the subjects to which Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques is devoted.



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