Saturday, November 15, 2014

France and America: The Love-Hate Relationship

Since one of our courses focuses on Franco-American relations, we were fortunate to attend an evening hosted by Boston University's Study Abroad program at the Fondation des Etats-Unis, an international student center located across from Parc Montsouris.  The Fondation, funded by Americans including John D. Rockefeller, Jr., has housed and supported international students since its opening in 1930.  It is part of the Cité international universitaire de Paris, founded after World War I in an effort to promote peace by facilitating international student exchange and education.  Recently renovated, the Fondation provided an ideal setting for the evening's program, a lecture by William Keylor, Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University's Pardee School of Global Studies, and a stand-up comedy routine by Sebastian Marx, both on the theme of Franco-American relations.

Professor Keylor, who was named Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Mérite by the French government, gave a presentation on "France and America: The Love-Hate (Mostly Love) Relationship of Four Centuries," highlighting the ups and downs of the two countries' relations since the French provided essential support for the American war of independence.  The only Western European country never to have fought against the United States, France is also the Western European country of greatest anti-Americanism.  At the same time, the United States has experienced waves of Francophobia, most recently in 2003, when French Fries were replaced by Freedom Fries in the three House of Representatives cafeterias.  Still, Professor Keylor suggested, more binds the two countries together than divides them, as four centuries of close relations make clear.

What divides them is often very funny, providing Sebastian Marx, a New Yorker who has lived in Paris for ten years, ready material to entertain a mixed French-American audience with stories of American adventures and misadventures in France.

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