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The Moral Disarmament of France

The Moral Disarmament of France
Education, Pacifism, and Patriotism, 1914–1940

$124.00 (C)

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Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare

  • Date Published: January 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521839006

$ 124.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • While French schoolteachers of the late nineteenth century have been widely celebrated for converting 'peasants into Frenchmen', their interwar counterparts have enjoyed little such acclaim. Both contemporary critics and subsequent scholars have condemned French pacifist schoolteachers of the interwar decades for cultivating antipatriotism and facilitating the defeat of 1940. In this book, Mona L. Siegel challenges such equations of teachers' pacifism with national betrayal. Drawn to pacifist ideals in the aftermath of World War I, schoolteachers sought to 'morally disarm' the nation by purging their classrooms of the militaristic images, symbols, narratives, and values that had led their generation to accept war without question in 1914. At the same time, however, their teaching remained rooted in longstanding patriotic and republican traditions. Siegel argues that interwar schoolteachers ultimately solidified French citizens' patriotic loyalties in an era when economic hardship and political extremism threatened to undermine those very ideals.

    • Addresses the cultural legacy and national memory of World War I in France
    • Refutes long-held assumptions about the cultural causes of France's defeat in World War II
    • Includes the voices of children and explores the transmission of values between generations born before and after World War I
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    • Winner of the 2006 History of Education Society Outstanding Book Award

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Mona L. Siegel has written an excellent book on the complex relationship between pacifist activism and commitment to the ideals of internationalism and patriotism."
    - H-Peace, Kevin J. Callahan, Department of History, Saint Joseph College

    "Scholars of French history will applaud this fine book, and educators anywhere might join the chorus." The International History Review Robert J. Young, University of Winnipeg

    "This book by Mona L. Siegel is an elegantly written and subtle analysis of the French primary school teachers' role in what was called at the time the "moral disarmament" of France...this is an important book on a significant topic, one of the great strengths of which is its insistence on the centrality of women as historical agents in a time in which they had no formal political voice in France. Siegel is to be congratulated." American Historical Review Norman Ingram, Concordia University

    "In pursuit of her quarry, Siegel has read through more than a hundred textbooks of the time for an understanding of their message to students, examined the professional journals and newsletters in which teachers discussed their calling, and for three departments, searched the archival holdings of teachers' lessons and students' essays for insight into the actual classroom experience. From these diverse sources she both constructs a coherent chonology and draws out the engaging voices of participants. Readers can only admire the attentiveness and tenacity of Siegel's research. Furthermore, Siegel's book contains food for thought." - John S. Hill, Immaculata University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521839006
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of tables
    List of abbreviations
    1. 'Raise their hearts to the Fatherland': patriotism, pacifism, and primary school education during the First World War
    2. 'Little French children, do not forget!' - immediate postwar lessons and French collective memory of the Great War
    3. 'There are only false victories and great miseries' - socialist internationalism, feminist pacifism, and the forging of a new ideological consensus
    4. 'War is atrocious for all fatherlands' - pacifist scholastic narratives of the Great War
    5. 'To love France is to love all humanity' - patriotic education between the wars
    6. 'We do not want war!' - schoolteachers confront fascism and international conflict, 1933 to 1940

  • Author

    Mona L. Siegel, California State University, Sacramento


    • Winner of the 2006 History of Education Society Outstanding Book Award

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