Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2021


The principal aim of this thesis project is to examine the socio-legal context of the Vichy regime in World War II France, and to provide an understanding of how that context informed, and continues to inform, the integrity of French nationhood. With Ernest Renan’s oubli serving as a framework for the solidification of nationhood, I will demonstrate that the betrayals to French law and custom that were committed in an attempt to right the wrongs of the Vichy resulted in an imperfect forgetting, and ultimately, a more fragmented national sense of self. I contend that this imperfect oubli resulting from attempting to erase the widespread, institutional collaboration with the German occupiers demonstrates not an antithesis to oubli and its purposes and value, but rather that any perfidy to a nation’s most closely-held values, even with noble ends, will only serve to the dissolution of what truly makes a nation. That constant is required in order to forget those unforgettable events of the past. Without one, alternate, inconsistent versions of a nation—a Vichy versus République, a pre-9/11 United States and a post-9/11 United States—vie for domination and ultimately, there can be no one nation.


france, french studies, foreign language, vichy france, world war ii, national identity

Document Type




Degree Name

French Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Stephen Bishop

Second Committee Member

Pamela Cheek

Third Committee Member

Rajeshwari Vallury

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