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This book, which is about what ‘popular culture’ means in France, and how the term's shifting meanings have been negotiated and contested, represents a theoretically informed study of the way that popular culture is lived, imagined, fought over and negotiated in modern and contemporary France. It covers a wide range of overarching concerns: the roles of state policy, the market, political ideologies, changing social contexts and new technologies in the construction of the popular. But the book also provides a set of specific case studies showing how popular songs, stories, films, TV programmes and language styles have become indispensable elements of ‘culture’ in France. Deploying yet also rethinking a ‘Cultural Studies’ approach to the popular, it therefore challenges dominant views of what French culture really means today.

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Whether one 'likes' his work or not, Bertrand Blier is undisputably an important and influential presence in modern French film-making. For those who would understand the nature and function of popular French culture, it has now become impossible to ignore his work. Blier's career began in 1957 as an assistant stagiaire, as it was still relatively conventional in the French film-making tradition. This book hopes to be able to start formulating some answers to the puzzle that is Blier's work. The aim is to identify strategies for finding one's way through a body of work, which has disconcerted spectators, to identify some reference points that the curious spectator can use as a map to navigate through Blier's preferred themes and stylistic techniques. One way of understanding the system of dramatic cohesion that unifies the action of Blier's films is to read it in terms of an 'absurdist' conception. The comic momentum of Blier's films relies on the elaboration of a system of images which might be termed 'festive-ludic' or 'anarchocomic'. His deliberate attempt to go beyond the conventional limits of gender representation is as important example of the many processes of narrative subversion. Discussions reveal that the key tropes around which Blier's work is structured point to an engagement with a tradition of popular discourse, translated into both content and form, which finds an echo in the wider cultural apparatus of the post-1968 period and which is all the more significant for its location in mainstream visual culture.

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Diane Kurys' first film, Diabolo menthe (Peppermint Soda), made in 1977, depicts the lives of two schoolgirl sisters growing up in the early 1960s, a period which coincides with Kurys' own adolescence. Kurys' films are of interest not just as projections of individual preoccupations but also because their focus on girls and women of the baby-boomer generation produces a symptomatic text for analysing wider issues relating to female identity. Her work needs to be understood within the specific context of French cinema and French culture, in which the concept of the auteur, if ostensibly ungendered, remains resolutely masculine. The commercial and critical successes of Diabolo menthe and Coup de foudre, Kurys' two most incontrovertibly women-centred films, coincide with the period when the women's movement in France had its greatest impact on social and political life. In the light of recent gender theory which insists on the fluidity and constructedness of gender positions, Kurys' signalling of 'femininity' in François Truffaut's films might be considered progressive. Diabolo menthe was a huge success, well received by the majority of critics and the highest grossing French film of 1977, at one point coming second only to Star Wars. Cocktail Molotov focuses on a trio of teenagers who miss out on what was going on. Un homme amoureux, Après l'amour and A la folie are some other films that are discussed in this book.

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This book presents Germaine Dulac as one of the few women pioneers of cinema and a committed feminist. It draws on a wealth of archival material – both films and documents – to study Dulac’s ‘behind the scenes’ work on filmmaking and her social/political activism in the field of cinema. The biographical and historical introduction contextualizes Germaine Dulac’s situation at the heart of the avant-garde. Three chapters organize her films and career around the three kinds of cinema that she especially promoted: ‘psychological’, ‘pure’, and ‘documentary.’ The conclusion contrasts Dulac’s contributions with those of Alice Guy Blaché, another early women film pioneer, highlighting their differing paths to recognition.

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This is the first book dedicated to the career and films of Jacques Audiard. It argues that the work of this prominent French director both reinforces and undermines the traditional concept of the auteur.

The book traces Audiard’s career from his early screenwriting projects in the 1970s to his eight directed feature films. From a prison outside Paris to a war zone in Sri Lanka, from a marine park on the Côte d’Azur to the goldfields of the American Wild West, these films revolve around the movement of bodies. Fragile yet powerful, macho yet transgressive, each of these films portrays disabled, marginalised or otherwise non-normative bodies in constant states of crisis and transformation.

This book uses the motif of border-crossing – both physical and symbolic – to explore how Audiard’s films construct and transcend boundaries of many forms. Its chapters focus on his films’ representation of the physical body, French society and broader transnational contexts. Located somewhere between the arthouse and the B movie, the French and the transnational, the feminist and the patriarchal, the familiar and the new, this book reveals how Jacques Audiard’s characters and films reflect his own eternally shifting position, both within and beyond the imaginary of French cinema.

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Will Higbee

chapters has also been to establish Kassovitz as a director who (in his various guises) consistently occupies the position of a ‘popular’ filmmaker, and whose films reflect the increasing prominence of youth at the heart of contemporary popular French culture. All his films are thus concerned with the popular – its form and function in contemporary French culture. His fracture sociale trilogy

in Mathieu Kassovitz
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Diana Holmes
David Looseley

Conclusion Diana Holmes and David Looseley T he ambition of this study has been to explore the diversity of ways in which the popular has been conceptualised and materialised in France. Whereas domestic and external accounts of French culture have spontaneously identified it with élite culture, we have argued that any rigorous analysis of it must integrate and engage with majority cultural practices. The relationship between state, national institutions and cultural production takes very particular forms in France, closely enmeshed as this relationship has been

in Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture
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Consumer culture’s killer instinct and the imperial imperative
Hilary Ann Radner

In a widely cited examination of French culture, Kristin Ross isolates a number of themes that she sees as characterising post-Second World War France in the 1950s and 1960s (Ross, 1996 ). These include: the new centrality of the consumer durable, in particular the automobile, but also the refrigerator; the focus on hygiene, ‘nettoyage’ (cleaning), as a vehicle for

in The films of Luc Besson
Lamine Kane
Aliou Guissé
, and
Latyr Diouf

full project proposal, which was funded by a partnership grant from the British Council. Context Senegal is a former French colony and Dakar was the base from which France conceived and implemented its ‘assimilation policy’, which aimed to make Senegalese citizens French and to integrate them into the French culture and nation. To this end, education was assigned the role of familiarizing students in the colonies with the European order – economic, social and moral – as a first step towards integration. African students read European textbooks and wrote essays on

in Knowledge, democracy and action
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Carrie Tarr

, geographical and cultural specificity of the origins of those it designates, 4 and secondly because the emphasis on origins risks endorsing an essentialist notion of identity as pre-given, rather than acknowledging that identities, including those of the majority white French population, are constantly in process. The difficulty of naming the beurs is clearly indicative of their problematic status within French culture. 5 What is important

in Reframing difference