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Charles de Gaulle's importance in postwar French political life was matched by his importance in the nation's collective imagination. This authority was consciously contrived by de Gaulle, who wished to bear upon his figurative body the will of the French people to maintain the power of their nation in the face of a political environment characterized by the opposition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Ultimately, de Gaulle's symbolic originality proved more lasting than his political innovations.
This course covers the emergence of modern France. Topics include the social, economic, and political transformation of France; the impact of France's revolutionary heritage, of industrialization, and of the dislocation wrought by two world wars; and the political response of the Left and the Right to changing French society.