Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Ronald Schechter

Committee Members

Frederick Corney

Michael Leruth

Robert Leventhal


This thesis is based on memoires produced by activists of les années 1968, or the years surrounding 1968, in France--an era of “deferred disobedience” of the post-war generation against the established social institutions, orders and norms. This thesis focus on a group of radical left intellectuals, known as les établis, or intellectual-workers, who abandoned their university education or white-collar jobs to work in factories and get in touch with the working class, in response to the resurgent passions for Marxism theory of the proletariat revolution. Looking at the years surrounding 1968 from their perspectives, I challenge a well-accepted notion that characterizes this period as a festive rebellion of the young generation in an affluent society. Instead, this period could be seen as a continuity of the crisis of French intellectuals. By revisiting the roles of workers for postwar intellectuals, I explored that workers had dominated their imagination as the “noble otherness.” Intellectuals criticized the society as contaminated by crisis: most importantly consumerism, state-directed industrialization, and colonialism. However, intellectuals deemed themselves as a product of such a society and therefore unable to bring about true changes. Thus, workers became the focal point of intellectual imaginations, exactly because they were excluded from the visible and tangible world of the intellectuals, and they were romanticized as to preserve the real principles for desired reforms or even revolutions. In this thesis, les établis are treated as a logical extension, and the most extreme form, of intellectual crisis in front of the postwar society. This thesis revisits memoires of this marginalized group as a type of counter-narrative, a written metamorphosis of remembered experiences, from which I reconstruct the lived experiences of revolts and confrontations, as well as latent crisis, most importantly work-place violence, immigrant issues, and reflections on WWII.

On-Campus Access Only