In the 1980s and 1990s, the French denounced the U.S. as “domineering,” criticized our policies, rejected “Reaganomics,” and hailed a farmer who trashed a McDonald’s site as a national hero. Yet at the same time they said they liked Americans, fought with us in Desert Storm, deregulated their economy, and flocked to see Hollywood movies. How does a historian square persistent anti-Americanism with French esteem for the U.S. and receptivity to Americanization? In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, “Unmitigated Gaul: The French Confront America, 1980-2000,” Richard Kuisel of Georgetown University deciphered French attitudes toward American policies, practices and values during these turbulent years.
Kuisel holds a joint appointment at the Center for German and European Studies and the History Department at Georgetown University where he teaches contemporary European history. His award-winning book, Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization (1993), was a prequel to his new study: The French Way: How France Embraced and Rejected American Values and Power (2011).
A webcast and podcast of his seminar are available at Unmitigated Gaul.