Transnational France

The Modern History of a Universal Nation

Tyler Stovall

First Edition • February 10, 2015 • 504 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813348117 • $50.00 USD$64.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813348124 • $33.99 USD$33.99 CAN

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Transnational France is a sophisticated work, laying out the methodological and theoretical questions that preoccupy historians today but doing so in a way completely accessible to students.  Beautifully written, with precise and telling examples, the book sets a new standard for national histories. Essential.”

In this compelling volume, Tyler Stovall takes a transnational approach to the history of modern France, and by doing so draws the reader into a key aspect of France’s political culture: universalism. Beginning with the French Revolution and its aftermath, Stovall traces the definitive establishment of universal manhood suffrage and the abolition of slavery in 1848. Following this critical time in France’s history, Stovall then explores the growth of urban and industrial society, the beginnings of mass immigration, and the creation of a new, republican Empire. This time period gives way to the history of the two world wars, the rise of political movements like Communism and Fascism, and new directions in popular culture. The text concludes with the history of France during the Fourth and Fifth republics, concentrating on decolonization and the rise of postcolonial society and culture. Throughout these major historical events Stovall examines France’s relations with three other areas of the world: Europe, the United States, and France’s colonial empire, which includes a wealth of recent historical studies. By exploring these three areas–and their political, social, and cultural relations with France–the text will provide new insights into both the nature of French identity and the making of the modern world in general.

Tyler Stovall is a Professor of French History at University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Paris and the Spirit of 1919 and Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light.


Chapter 1: French Revolution, World Revolution
France and Europe in 1789
Enlightening the World
From Crisis to Revolution
The Liberal Revolution
Rise and Fall of the Radical Revolution
The First Empire

Chapter 2: Restoration, Revolution, and Empire: France, 1815-1852
Life in Early Nineteenth Century France
The Restoration
The Struggle for Liberty
The Restoration and France Overseas
The Revolution of 1830
Industrial Revolution
Winners and Losers: The New Industrial Society
The July Monarchy
Beyond Liberty? New Paths to Reform and Revolution
The Revolutions of 1848
From Republic to Empire

Chapter 3: Imperial Democracy? France under the Second Empire, 1852-1870
Europe and the World in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
The Authoritarian Empire
France Confronts a Changing World
New Visions of Empire
The Liberal Empire
The Franco-Prussian War and the Fall of the Empire

Chapter 4 Paris: The Making of a World Capital
The Rise of World Cities
The Haussmannization of Paris
Paris and the Cultures of Modernity
The Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Paris
The Paris Commune
Paris, World Capital of Consumer Culture
Montmarte and the Rise of a New Bohemia
Paris on Display to the World

Chapter 5: The Universal Republic
Global Change: The Second Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Mass Society
Universalism and the Third Republic
The “Republicanization” of the Republic
The Republicanization of France
The Republic in Danger
The Dreyfus Affair
The Radical Republic

Chapter 6: The Republican Empire
The New Imperialism
Jules Ferry le tonkinois and the New French Empire
France and the Scramble for Africa
The Old Colonies and the New Empire
Ideas and Realities of Empire
France in the Colonies
The Colonies in France

Chapter 7: The Universal Nation in a World at War
France, Europe, and the World Face a New Century
France in the Belle Epoque
The Road to War
France Goes to War
France Adjusts to War
Battle and Survival in the Trenches
The Empire Goes to War
The Crises of 1917
The Final Year of the War

Chapter 8: From One War to Another: The Universal Nation in Crisis
The Peace of Paris and the Versailles Treaty
Prosperity and Anxiety in the Interwar Years
Interwar Politics and Diplomacy
The Crazy Years: New Dimensions in Avant-Garde and Popular Culture
One Hundred Million Frenchmen: Imperial France between the Wars
France and the World Depression
Foreign Affairs and the End of the Peace

Chapter 9: France in World War II: Defeat and Rebirth of the Universal Nation
Phoney War and Collapse
Vichy and the National Revolution
Vichy, Germany, and the Jews
Empire by Association: Vichy and the Colonies
Life in Wartime France
The Resistance and the Decline of Vichy

Chapter 10: The Fourth Republic: New Challenges for the Transnational Nation
From the Liberation to the Fourth Republic
Cold War and Coca-Colonization: France between Superpowers
Building a New France
The Revolt against Empire
Building a New France
The Revolt against Empire
The Algerian War and the End of the Fourth Republic

Chapter 11: The Fifth Republic: A New Era for France
Building the Fifth Republic
La Gloire: de Gaulle, France, and the World
Prosperity and Consumer Society
Revolution in France?
The End of Postwar Prosperity
The Socialists Take Power

Chapter 12: Postcolonial France: A New Universal Nation?
The New Globalism and the End of the “Short” Twentieth Century
The Rose Revolution: Achievements and Discontents
Immigration and Race at the end of the Twentieth Century
Memories and Legacies of War
France, Europe, and the World at the End of the Twentieth Century
France Enters a New Millennium
Thunder on the Right

“Especially impressive is the fine scholarship that undergirds this intellectually rich and highly accessible book.” —Journal of Modern History

Transnational France is a sophisticated work, laying out the methodological and theoretical questions that preoccupy historians today but doing so in a way completely accessible to students. Beautifully written, with precise and telling examples, the book sets a new standard for national histories. Essential.” —CHOICE

“In his compact survey of modern French history, Stovall asserts that key political and cultural events and trends have had and continue to have ‘universal’ influence and appeal well beyond Europe and the Western world. . . . An engaging perspective on the nation and its citizens.” —Booklist

“Tyler Stovall has produced an excellent comprehensive history of modern France from the Revolution of 1789-99 to the present. He situates France in the wider global context by examining the impact the country has had beyond its borders, not only as an imperial player but also as an important ideological and intellectual influence on territories and peoples beyond its imperial control. Equally significant are the international influences that shaped, and continue to shape modern France. But this is not just a history of exchange between nations or continents; it is carefully embedded in the methodology of transnational history. Stovall examines the three concepts, liberté, égalité, fraternité, that emerged from the Great Revolution and are intrinsic to French national identity, as the components of a universalism that is considered to be the heritage of all peoples. The book’s elegant and easy-to read prose and multi-disciplinary approach makes it an invaluable guide for instructors seeking a more global approach to French history and to students at all stages of their academic careers.”
Patricia Lorcin, University of Minnesota

“Tyler Stovall has produced field-changing studies of black France and has long been a leading voice in reconsidering French history from imperial and comparative perspectives. He has now written a long overdue transnational history of the French nation.

Stovall tells a story of how France came to understand itself as a ‘universal nation’ through its transnational entanglements with Europe, overseas empires, and the United States and through its experiences with colonialism, immigration, the Jewish minority, international socialism, war, tourism, luxury production, the black diaspora, decolonization, Islam, and recent multiculturalism. Stovall neither uncritically affirms French pretentions to universalism nor does he summarily dismiss them as particularist ideology. Instead he helps readers explore the complexities and contradictions of this peculiar nation whose very particularity was bound up with its will to universality (and vice versa). The result is an original account of the transnational processes that made modern France as well as this ‘universal’ nation’s role in the making of a transnational modernity (organized around national-states).

Presented as a lucid and engaging narrative punctuated by topical essays, this masterful synthesis is destined to become a standard teaching text. Not only an introductory primer, it offers a powerful methodological example for students and scholars seeking to transcend the national history paradigm without either ignoring the centrality of national-states in modern history or abandoning concrete historical focus on a particular place.”
Gary Wilder, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

“Tyler Stovall’s Transnational France offers a vivid and concise portrait of French history since the Revolution. He demonstrates forcefully that contemporary debates about immigration and religion in France are only the latest chapter in a long history of complex interactions with people, goods, and ideas from every part of the globe.”
Joshua Cole, University of Michigan

“A rich and remarkable journey. Stovall shows beautifully how French and global history have been tightly imbricated for centuries, offering us a vivid re-imagining of the nation’s past and present.”
Laurent Dubois, Duke University

“The book does an excellent job of demonstrating how events and trends within France shaped and were shaped by events that took place outside of the country. It traces France’s relationship with its colonies and discusses how ideas that emerged in France had influence all around the world. It makes effective use of the concept of universalism to reflect on the contradictions and ambiguities of a country that saw itself as a model for others to follow, while it denied access to so-called universal rights to various groups that were part of the nation.”
Denise Z. Davidson, Georgia State University

“A masterfully executed history of modern France, Stovall’s Transnational France situates the French experience within a global context without succumbing to the usual pitfalls of following academic fashions. Gender, race, and class are integral rather than peripheral add-ons, and while the international scope may play to current trends, Stovall makes a powerful case for why events in Spain or even California are tied to the hexagon. From his analysis of French utopian communities in the Ohio River Valley to the persistent influence of European neighbors, Stovall demonstrates how the history of modern France cannot be properly understood without an examination of the push and pull of the wider world.”
Venus Bivar, Washington University

“A comprehensive text on the history of modern France that deftly brings together France’s domestic and imperial development.”
Janine M. Lanza, Wayne State University

“Engaging and accessible, this new textbook situates the history of modern France in a global context.”
Margaret Andersen, University of Tennessee

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