Titre du cours: 
François Mitterrand & the transformation of the modern French Left (1958-1995)
Titulaire du cours: 

Enseignement électif, Collège universitaire, Campus de Paris

As the Socialist primaries and ‘DSK Affair’ have recently demonstrated, the crisis of succession since the death of the Parti Socialiste’s founding leader, François Mitterrand, renders the study of this enigmatic and controversial figure all the more pertinent. Against the timely backdrop of the 30th anniversary of Mitterrand’s historic May 1981 victory, this course will explore how Mitterrand reacted to, or influenced the radically changing landscape of the French left during his years as a presidential challenger in the 1960-70s and as the first, and only, Socialist President of the 5th Republic (1981-1995). With emphasis on presidential elections and ‘image-making’, the course will examine how a man of questionable left-wing credentials, tarnished by personal scandal, reinvented himself as the socialist leader of post-war France. The course will evaluate his relations with the rival parties of the Left – Socialists, Communists, centre and extreme Lefts – and critically appraise his self-anointed role as a ‘force of unity’. Subjects to be explored under this theme of ‘the struggle for Left-wing unity’ range from the ‘rescue’ of French Socialism, the decline of the Parti Communiste Français and the transformation of the intellectual sphere to the challenges of his Presidency, the Mitterrandien vision of the ‘European Project’ and his fall from grace following revelations about his ‘dark past’ during the Occupation.