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Recovering the History of the French University

Author(s): Emmanuelle Picard

Journal: Studium : Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteits-Geschiedenis
ISSN 1876-9055

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 156;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: historiography | university history | jubilees | France | scientific disciplines

The history of French universities is characterised by several ruptures since the French Revolu- tion, the last of them dating from 1968 and resulting in the breakup of existing universities into multiple entities without their own past. Simultaneously, a culture of intense centralization served as a guiding principle in the design of the French academic system, leading to the disappearance of all, indeed minor, attempts to create a culture of autonomous institutions. Against this background, it becomes clear why the bulk of the historiography on French universities has focused on the academic disciplines and rarely mentions universities as institutions. Scholars identified themselves first and foremost with their scientific field, with their institutional affiliation playing only a secondary role. By discussing these specific characteristics of the French university system, this article aims to elucidate the problems French universities are confronted with when eager to commemorate their own past.
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