Patriot or Spy: The Dreyfus Affair, France's Great Scandal with Nigel Perrin - Context Travel

Patriot or Spy: The Dreyfus Affair, France's Great Scandal with Nigel Perrin

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Wrongfully convicted of being a spy, the case of Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus became the greatest scandal in nineteenth-century France. This Conversation charts his extraordinary story and its momentous effects on French society.

In 1894, the chance discovery of a torn-up memorandum in a wastepaper basket led to the greatest scandal in nineteenth-century France. The incriminating document proved that someone in the French military was passing secrets to its enemies, and its author was quickly identified as Alfred Dreyfus, one of the army's most promising junior officers – and, significantly, a Jewish one. Convicted of treason, Dreyfus was stripped of his rank, humiliatingly paraded before the public, and became the focus of vicious antisemitism. Some believed his punishment to be well deserved, but all was not what it seemed. For while he would spend the next five years enduring the hellish conditions of the penal colony on Devil's Island, Dreyfus's supporters began a long and bitter fight to expose a terrible miscarriage of justice and a cover-up of extraordinary proportions.

What became known as the Dreyfus Affair stirred deep-seated prejudices and inspired visceral hatreds within and across all sections of French society, even provoking some to talk of civil war. These deep divisions would also continue to cast a long shadow over France through the twentieth century and anticipated some of the country's darkest moments. This Conversation will introduce the Dreyfus Affair, charting its many twists and turns, and examine the important players in the story. It will also consider the political and historical backdrop of fin-de-siècle Paris, the resurgence of antisemitism, and the haunting legacy of this formative episode in modern French history.

Led by an expert on Modern French History, Dr. Nigel Perrin, this interactive seminar will explore the Dreyfus Affair and its repercussions. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this event and where it happened, along with a broader understanding of the political and social history of France (and particularly Paris) during the 1890s.

Nigel has long been fascinated by the history of France during the Occupation, particularly in relation to the work of British secret services, a subject he began studying in 2003. 'Spirit of Resistance', his biography of secret agent Harry Peulevé, was published in 2008. Having completed his MA in Modern History at the University of Kent in Paris in 2015, he has now begun a doctorate on a spatial history of Paris under Occupation.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.