France Since 1871 is a course at Yale taught by John Merriman. The lectures are posted on Academic Earth, and I just finished them.
I chose this one because:
- I like history classes.
- Everything I know about France is through the lens of American (or perhaps British) history.
Merriman starts by saying the most intriguing thing. It was something like:
The key to understanding the French character is to understand that after WWI, France, in victory, was left a weaker country than Germany was in defeat.
Of the 24 lectures, almost five were about The Great War. But there was lots of other stuff. For example:
- In France, the suburbs are where “unwanted” people live.
- All roads lead to Paris, which is kind of a pain in the butt.
- Regional identities, including other dialects, have disappeared at an alarming rate. As Paris has taken over the French universe.
Merriman goes off on tangents, which I think were great fun. He talks a lot about living in France and uses the language in his lectures to illustrate points. He often says that he never felt that people were looking down on him as an American.
I was less impressed with his guest lecturers.
He has at least one more course on Academic Earth and I will absolutely be going through it.