These nine weeks lecture in Political Science aims to analyse the main aspects of the French political institutions and actors, since the birth of the current Fifth Republic, in 1958. The first part of this course aims to present the outlines of the French political order: that is to say, the functioning of the French semi-presidential system and relationships between the main power figures (such as the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the Members of Parliament), relationships between central level and sub-central level (since the laws of decentralization) powers, importance of the State in France and characteristics of the high civil servants (education, career...). 

The second part of this seminar will present the main French political actors: political parties and the functioning of political competition; evolution of representation of women in politics; the political activists. Finally, we will deal with the main debates about the French political life. 

This lecture aims to give you the main tools to participate and understand the key debates of the French political life, during your stay in France. So, don’t hesitate to participate during this lecture and to ask some questions; I’ll be happy to precise some theories or notions that you didn’t understand. We can also organise some debates and compare the French political system with the functioning of your own country political system. 

Evaluation:

 Attendance: 20% of the overall grade.

Oral Presentation: 20% of the overall grade.

Written essay: 60% of the overall grade (10 000-15 000 characters, all included).



This course aims at giving an introduction to the main environmental challenges that human societies are facing today. Drawing from research in political sociology and political theory, the course will give an analysis of a range of environmental issues and the responses they have drawn so far in the field of environmental/sustainability politics and society. Students will be invited to compare and contrast political responses from different countries and regions. The course will be based on a series of milestones articles from the environmental humanities and Earth sciences that students will be invited to read and discuss.


Ever since Ancient Greece, spectacle has played a central, yet highly problematic part in Western societies. Although most of us would agree that social life is all but unimaginable without some form of spectacle, and that some societies have given particular importance to spectacle, we tend to equate spectacle with entertainment, or at the very least consider that it implies a fictional dimension, that it is based on illusion and make-believe—in other words, that it is ultimately futile, if not downright nefarious, especially when certain domains of social life— politics, justice, religion—seem unduly "theatricalized."

     However, if we care to explore the nature of spectacle, setting aside the possible—but not inevitable—abuses that it may engender, we realize that it must be regarded as a normal, and even essential form of communication and social life. This requires an effort to redefine spectacle as a "neutral" practice (i.e., without a priori positive or negative value, and without inherent fictionality), but also to take as object of study not 'spectacle' as an abstract construct, but the "spectacle event," an entity with a specific duration and location in space that involves specific groups of people. Therefore, we can claim that (for instance) a political rally, a court trial, a religious service are all fundamentally spectacle events; they are defined as such by time/space coordinates and by the simultaneous presence of two parties—performers and spectators—who take on asymmetrical but complementary and equally important roles.

     An event-based approach leads to innovative analyses of the functions of spectacle in social communication, and helps debunk a number of commonplaces, not just in the field of performing arts, but in political science and sociology as well.

     This seminar will be divided in four parts:

Part I. Session 1 will provide an introduction to the critical approach to the concept of 'spectacle' in reference to other germane operational concepts ('performance', 'spectation', 'attention', 'event', 'politics/policy') and to commonly held (mis)conceptions in various theories or models (by Debord, Baudrillard, Schechner, Vargas Llosa). We will frame spectacle as a type of event in the realm of communication.

Part II. Session 2 is devoted to a historical perspective on the "spectacle controversy" from Ancient Greece to the 20th century, with an aim to show that through the centuries and across cultures, the same elements keep recurring: a defiance towards representation, an unwarranted assumption that spectators are passive, a belief that all spectacle relies on illusion and deception—but also a conviction that spectacle is a powerful political instrument.

Part III. Sessions 3-4-5 will be devoted to readings and analyzing post-WWII foundational documents on the relationships between politics, society and spectacle such as Orwell's 1984 (1948), Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956), Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (1967), Baudrillard's The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1993), and Kellner's Media Spectacle (2003). A series of films that deal with this issue will also be examined, from Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) to Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau (2011).

Part IV. In Session 6, students will present case studies of recent notable spectacle events in the political domain broadly conceived. A particular focus will be the often neglected but essential difference between "spectacle" and 'media."

 

EVALUATION

 

— Written case study (20-25K characters w/spaces) on a specific political spectacle event: 50%

— In-class exam [1h]: 30%

— Class presentation [10 min]: 20%