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Civilization versus Barbarism

The Franco-Prussian War in French History Textbooks, 1875–1895

Jörg Lehmann

In French history textbooks published after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871, the presentation of the war and its outcome frequently include the myth of France's revanche and depictions of the Prussian enemy as barbarians. Other textbooks presented a narrative of progress in which the French Third Republic is shown as the endpoint of a process of advancing civilization. While the idea of a French revanche can be regarded as a founding myth of the Third Republic, the narrative of progress can be seen as an echo of this myth, cleansed of the concept of the enemy as barbarian, which constitutes a national master narrative.

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Of Traiteurs and Tsars

Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance

Willa Z. Silverman

Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.

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Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.

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Patrick Young, David Looseley, Elayne Oliphant, and Kolja Lindner

, comprises an “almost forgotten” history, in the words of Martha Hanna’s back jacket blurb to Rachel Chrastil’s book. Other episodes have certainly figured more prominently within histories of the Franco-Prussian War—the siege of Metz, for example, or the

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Richard Bessel

, that ‘a large proportion of the wounded … perished in the woods because they were not evacuated and treated.’” 21 During the Franco-Prussian War, “the French amputated some 13,200 limbs, with 10,000 gangrene and fever deaths—a mortality rate of 76

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‘At the Mercy of the German Eagle’

Images of London in Dissolution in the Novels of William Le Queux

Antony Taylor

shadow of the Paris Commune Underpinning Le Queux's accounts of metropolitan dissolution are images of the Paris Commune. Turmoil in Paris in 1871 in response to the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War led to the overthrow of the municipal

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Michael Miller, Paul V. Dutton, and Laura Hobson Faure

during the nineteenth-century campaigns in Crimea, Italy, and the Franco-Prussian War. But by late fall 1914, a total and industrial war made abundantly clear that an entirely new organization would be needed to both avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and

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Mark McKinney, Jennifer Howell, Ross William Smith, and David Miranda Barreiro

, wars and revolutions that marked his career, including the 1848 revolution, the French conquest of Algeria, the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. He helpfully situates the artist within a context of rapid social transformation, for example the

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Nicole Hudgins

of horror and fascination when touring the destruction of Paris following the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. 17 After the Bloody Week of May 1871, Théophile Gautier and Edmond de Goncourt admitted to having “the yearning to see the grotesque

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Marrying into the Nation

Immigrant Bachelors, French Bureaucrats, and the Conjugal Politics of Naturalization in the Third Republic

Nimisha Barton

context of population crisis following the Franco-Prussian War and, three decades later, the Great War. With the decimation of the French male population between 1914 and 1918, Frenchmen were called upon more than ever before to reproduce for a nation bled