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« Une et divisible ? »

Plural Identities in Modern France

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Edited By Barbara Lebrun and Jill Lovecy

This book offers a selection of the papers presented at the 2008 annual conference of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF), with chapters focusing on regional formation, European policy, the cultural landscape of Paris, the place of Maghrebi artists in popular music, the evolution of cultural policy regarding ‘popular’ culture, and filmic and novelised representations of desire, ethnicity and nationality.
Guided by postcolonial critique, this book takes as its starting point the recognition of multiple identities in modern and contemporary France, despite (and against) the traditional republican emphasis on national unification and the relegation of notions of ethnicity, sexuality and cultural difference to the so-called private sphere. While many publications have engaged with this topic, few juxtapose social and political issues with cultural approaches. This edited volume, by contrast, incorporates the work of specialists drawn from a broad range of academic disciplinary areas, including history, politics, literature and cultural studies, and shows how perceptions of the self and of the other as French have changed over the years, with an emphasis on the contemporary period (post-1945).

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Part 3 French Literature 177

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Part 3 French Literature Penny Brown ‘Is this my war?’ Identity Crises in French Children’s Literature after World War Two The construction of individual identity is, not surprisingly, a key theme in fictional works targeting young, especially adolescent, readers. A huge number of texts can be found that depict crises and dilemmas in which the protagonists struggle to develop a sense of self and to define themselves in relation to others. For the most part, these are set in the contempo- rary world, to facilitate reader identification. However, historical fiction has also become an increasingly popular genre, and one that brings with it a discrete set of narrative and contextual implications and problems. The teaching of history in schools has been seen as having an important function in providing pupils with a ‘memory’, or insight into, past events that allows them to discover their own identity.1 Books for young read- ers that deal with the impact of historical events can therefore equally be seen as an important site of testimony and commemoration and fulfil a crucial pedagogical role in mediating both information and the concept of the link between past and present, the individual and their heritage. In French children’s books, the last three decades have seen a burgeoning of fictional works that deal with two periods of recent French history, the role of France in the Holocaust and the Algerian war and its aftermath, and in which questions of identity are related to the intersection of personal history...

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