Modern France

by Michael F. Leruth


France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Western Europe.

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Cover image for Modern France

January 2021


Pages 396
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Countries and Regions
  Current Events and Issues/Society
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This volume offers perspective on modern French society and culture through thematic chapters on topics ranging from geography to popular culture. Ideal for students and general readers, this book includes insightful, current information about France's past, present, and future.

France is the country most visited by international tourists. Aside from clichéd images of baguettes and the Eiffel Tower, however, what is French society and culture really like?

Modern France is organized into thematic chapters covering the full range of French history and contemporary daily life. Chapter topics include: geography; history; government and politics; economy; religion and thought; social classes and ethnicity; gender, marriage, and sexuality; education; language; etiquette; literature and drama; art and architecture; music and dance; food; leisure and sports; and media and popular culture. Each chapter contains an overview of the topic and alphabetized entries on examples of each theme.

A detailed historical timeline covers prehistoric times to the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. Special appendices offer profiles of a typical day in the life of representative members of French society, a glossary, key facts and figures about France, and a holiday chart. The volume will be useful for readers looking for specific topical information and for those who want to develop an informed perspective on aspects of modern France.


  • Includes "Day in the Life" features that portray the specific daily activities of various people in the country, from high school students to working class people to professionals, thereby providing readers with insight into daily life in the country
  • Defines key terms related to the reading in a glossary appendix
  • Provides at-a-glance information about France's festivals and feast days in a chart of National Holidays
  • Presents photos and sidebars helping to illustrate key topics and allowing students to dive more deeply into ideas
  • Offers historical perspective on key elements of French identity: its major historical figures and conflicts, its institutions and traditions, its values and national symbols, its regions and cities, its cultural and intellectual achievements, and its language and literature
  • Outlines key issues in which tradition and modernity are in tension: multiculturalism vs. universalism, religious pluralism vs. secularism, globalization vs. sovereignism, technological and economic innovation vs. cultural protectionism, and reform vs. protest
Series Description

Understanding Modern Nations

The Understanding Modern Nations series profiles individual nations that are of interest to high school students and undergraduates, focusing on countries that are often studied in school as well as countries that have made major headlines in recent years.

With coverage of topics such as geography, history, politics and government, economy, society, culture, social media, pop culture, and personal accounts of daily life, these volumes serve as ideal resources for students of geography, social studies, anthropology, political science, and more. Additional topics examine religion, social classes and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, education, language, etiquette, literature and drama, art and architecture, music and dance, food, and leisure and sport.

General overviews of each topic provide students with a basic foundation on the subject, and entries pertaining to the topic—such as biographies of significant people in the field, iconic events, and key ideas—follow each overview. Sidebars and photos, facts and figures that are integral to better understanding the countries, a glossary of key terms, and a holidays chart round out the coverage in each of these accessible, engaging volumes.

Author Info

Michael F. Leruth, PhD, is associate professor of French and francophone studies at the College of William & Mary. He specializes in modern and contemporary French society and culture. He has published articles in leading journals including The French Review, French Cultural Studies, French Politics and Society, Modern and Contemporary France, Contemporary French Civilization, and Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. His knowledge of French politics is recognized internationally. In 2018, he received a Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence at William & Mary.

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