Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2009—2010 Forum on Connections
40 Years is Enough: The Development of May 68 Mythology in France
“Beneath the pavement, the beach!” encapsulates the popular understanding of the French May riots of 1968. The students came, they saw, they conquered, had lots of sex in the meanwhile and were finally put back in their place by the swift hand of the Gaullist government – or so the story goes. This study looks at commemorations of the largest general strike in French history to understand how a significant socio-political rebellion was transformed into a memory of a joyous month-long party on the streets of Paris. Focusing on the 10-year anniversaries of 68, this study looks at mass media representations of May and argues that subsequent political changes and elite interests were key in shaping the collective memory of May.