France in Flux

BookFrance in Flux

France in Flux

Space, Territory and Contemporary Culture

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 59


March 1st, 2022



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The look and feel of metropolitan France has been a notable preoccupation of French literary and visual culture since the 1980s. Numerous writers, filmmakers and photographers have been drawn to articulate France’s contrasting spatial qualities, from infrastructural installations such as roads, rail lines and ports, to peri-urban residential developments and isolated rural enclaves. In doing so, they explore how the country’s acute sense of national identity has been both asserted and challenged in topographic terms.
This wide-ranging collection of essays explores how the contemporary concern with space in France has taken shape across a range of media, from recent cinema, documentary filmmaking and photographic projects through to television drama and contemporary fiction, and examines what it reveals about the state of the nation in a post-colonial and post-industrial age. The impact of global flows of capital, trade and migration can be mapped through attention to the specificities of place and topography. Investigation of liminal locations, from seaboard cities and abandoned industrial sites to refugee camps and peasant smallholdings, interrogates the assertion of a national territory (and, by extension, a national identity) through the figure of the hexagon, and highlights the fluidities, instabilities and lines of flight which render it increasingly unsettled.

'An invaluable contribution to French cultural studies [...] France in Flux provides an enlightening multi-faceted vision of issues affecting our understanding of contemporary French space and identity.'
Carrie Tarr, Kingston University

'With the increasing pace of globalization and the rising specter of climate change, this timely volume addresses a viewpoint that, in my opinion, will greatly benefit courses on contemporary France, literature, or cinema. [...] By examining how the French react to the rapid social, demographic, and changes via photography, film, literature, readers can better understand this France in flux.'
Kory Olson, H-France

'One realizes that opening our eyes to the importance of these apparently trivial, depressing, or monotonous spaces is precisely the point of this creatively-focused and thoughtfully-organized collection of essays. [...] I found in this apparently impoverished terrain a greatly enriched view of contemporary France. [...] The book as a whole delivers, richly, on the same vision. [...] This book is an essential read for anyone with a foundation in French studies. It will also be valuable to geographers, historians of photography and film, and scholars of literature and environment.'
Suzanne Black, Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature

Author Information

Ari J. Blatt is an Associate Professor of French at the University of Virginia Edward Welch is Carnegie Professor of French at the University of Aberdeen

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Illustrations7
List of Contributors11
1. Angels of History: Looking Back at Spatial Planning in the Mission photographique de la DATAR27
2. Disuse and Affect: Post-Industrial Landscapes of France’s Labour Lost49
3. Depth of Field: Farmland and Farm Life in Contemporary French Documentary77
4. Sylvain George’s Minor Mode, or Cinema at the Margins of its Fragile Community106
5. Girlhood Luminosities and Topographical Politics: 17 Filles and Bande de filles127
6. Les Revenants, Tignes, and the Return of Post-war Modernisation155
7. French Edgeland Poetics: Topography and Ecology in Jean Rolin’s Les Événements175
8. Picturing a Nation of Local Places in the Observatoire photographique du paysage and France(s) territoire liquide200