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FRENCH 104N: Film and Fascism in Europe

Cross listed: COMPLIT 104N, ITALIAN 104N, FILMEDIA 105N

General Education Requirements



Course Description

Controlling people’s minds through propaganda is an integral part of fascist regimes’ totalitarianism. In the interwar, cinema, a relatively recent mass media, was immediately seized upon by fascist regimes to produce aggrandizing national narratives, justify their expansionist and extermination policies, celebrate the myth of the “Leader,” and indoctrinate the people. Yet film makers under these regimes (Rossellini, Renoir) or just after their fall, used the same media to explore and expose how they manufactured conformism, obedience, and mass murder and to interrogate fascism.

We will watch films produced by or under European fascist regimes (Nazi Germany, Italy under Mussolini, Greece’s Regime of the Colonels) but also against them. The seminar introduces key film analysis tools and concepts, while offering insights into the history of propaganda and cinema.

Meet the Instructor: Cecile Alduy

Cecile Alduy

"I was born and raised in Paris and spent my younger years roaming the very cityscape that forms the background of so many New Wave movies. I did not watch three films a day, like film director François Truffaut did (in secret and without paying) as a teenager, but going to the movies was always at once normal and magical.

“Here at Stanford, I am a professor of French literature and culture in the French and Italian Department. I am originally a specialist of Renaissance literature (authors like Montaigne) but I have recently dedicated my research to contemporary political discourse analysis, especially populist discourses. I’ve published La Langue de Zemmour (2022), Ce qu'ils disent vraiment: Les politiques pris aux mots (Politicians in Their Own Words, 2017) and Marine Le Pen Taken by Her Words: Decoding the New National Front Discourse (Seuil, 2015).

“I also write regularly on French politics, literature and cinema for The Atlantic, The Nation, Politico, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Boston Review, the New Yorker, OpenCulture, Le Monde, L'Obs and Libération.

“I teach a lot of cinema courses: Women in Contemporary Francophone Cinema; The French New Wave; Film and Immigration – films have always been an integral part of how I seek to understand the world.”


French Studies

Cross listed Department(s): Film and Media Studies, Italian Studies, and Comparative Literature