French Resistance: Myth or Reality? The story of Dora Bruder

This course will focus on a short (124-page) book, Dora Bruder, by French Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.  Part investigation, part memoir, Dora Bruder is about a teenaged Jewish girl who disappeared during the German occupation of France. This gentle, engaging read set in wartime Paris and the early post-war years blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction and offers alternative versions of reality. The book is a searching exploration of how the French understand (or imagine) their past, and of how all of us interpret our present.  You don’t need to know anything about occupied France to participate actively in this group.  Each session will begin with a brief introduction, then together we will read the text very closely and parse “truth” from different perspectives. The intent is to spark nuanced conversations on the cat-and-mouse game between subjectivity and objectivity that has informed post-war sensibility in France (and here) as the French nation "deconstructed" reality to buttress the myth of collective Resistance and to survive the trauma of genocide and the nation's participation in it.

Note: This online course will not be recorded.


Group Leader: DIANE COUTU
Venue: online
Meets on: Tuesdays 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Starting: 4/4/2023
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 14
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 3 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Diane Coutu studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and spent 20 years in Europe working as a foreign correspondent for TIME, The Wall Street Journal Europe, and at McKinsey’s Brussels office/think tank during the integration of the Single Market. This is her first course for Beacon Hill Seminars after offering three courses at Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.