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Hervé Thomas Campangne

Professor, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Professor, French

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Research Expertise

French and Francophone Studies
Transatlantic Studies

Curriculum Vitae

Hervé-Thomas Campangne (Ph.D., Rutgers University) has a wide range of teaching and research interests that include early modern France, cultural history, and France-U.S.A. relations. At the University of Maryland, College Park, Professor Campangne has held the positions of Chair of the Department of French and Italian, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Maryland-in-France (Nice) Program. Previous to his appointment at College Park, he has taught at Bard College and Rutgers University. His current research deals with travel narratives, and the history of France-U.S.A relations.

He is the author of critical editions of François de Belleforest's Cinquiesme tome des histoires tragiques and Montfleury's tragi-comedy Trasibule. He has published the book Mythologie et rhétorique aux XVe et XVIe siècles en France, and has contributed chapters to books that include Les Histoires tragiques du xvie siècle, Pierre Boaistuau et ses émules, Valeur des lettres à la Renaissance, Plutarque de l’âge classique au XIXe siècle, La Mythologie en question, Ethos, Rhetoric and Philosophy in Montaigne's Essays, Approaches to Teaching Marguerite de Navarre.

Hervé-Thomas Campangne is also the author of numerous articles on French culture, history and literature that have appeared internationally in the Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France, XVIIe siècle, Studi Francesi, Nouvelle Revue du XVIe siècle, Renaissance Quarterly, the French Review, Renaissance/Reformation, the Sixteenth Century Journal, and Transatlantica. He is currently preparing an edition of Belleforest’s Septiesme tome des histoires tragiques (for éditions Droz), as well as a volume on the history of France-USA relations. Latest publications: "Cannibals, Monsters and Weasels: Creating a French Enemy in the United States during the 1790s Quasi-War and the 2003 Iraq War Diplomatic Crisis". Angles, March 2020."La réception du traité de Paris (1783) et l’imaginaire des relations franco-américaines", Transatlantica, 2020. URL : "John Sanderson, Alexis de Tocqueville et Jules Janin ou la question de la démocratie sous la Monarchie de Juillet".  Mémoires du Livre / Studies in Book Culture, vol. 11/1, Fall 2019, p. 1-25." Framing the Early Modern French Best Seller: American Settings for François de Belleforest's Tragic Histories. Renaissance Quarterly. Spring 2018, Vol. 71.1, p. 77-113. “L'exemplarité américaine dans les Histoires tragiques de François de Belleforest: Francisco Pizarro, Maguerite de Roberval et le cacique Enriquillo”. Elseneur 31, April 2017: L’exemple historique. Norme et pédagogie de l’exemplarité du Moyen Âge au XVIe siècle (Textes réunis par Danièle Duport et Didier Lechat), pp. 111-127."Des « histoires toutes veritables ». François de Belleforest et la conception du Septiesme tome des Histoires tragiques", in Les Histoires tragiques du xvie siècle, Pierre Boaistuau et ses émules, ed. Jean-Claude Arnould, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2018, p. 121-136.Review of Liberté de la langue française dans sa pureté, by Scipion Dupleix. Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 73.1, Spring 2020, p. 358-360. Review of La plume et le pinceau: Nicolas Denisot, poète et artiste de la Renaissance (1515–1559) by Daniele Speziari. The French Review, vol. 91.3, March 2018, p. 231-232.Review of La fête imprimée: Spectacles et cérémonies politques (1549-1662) by Benoît Bolduc, Renaissance Quarterly, Volume 70.4, Winter 2017, p. 1563-1565.


French outrage over US submarine deal will not sink a longstanding alliance

Despite a major breach of trust, the recent spat between France and the US corresponds to a long cycle of conflict and rapprochement between the two countries.

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures | French

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne

Hervé-Thomas Campangne, University of Maryland

France’s recent recall of its ambassador to the United States was an exceptional move in the long history of France-U.S. relations, which began with the 1778 treaties that created a military and commercial alliance between the two countries.

In France, President Joe Biden’s Sept. 15, 2021 announcement of a new trilateral security partnership between the U.S., Australia and Great Britain was met with disbelief and outrage.

The alliance, which enables Australia to acquire U.S. nuclear-powered submarine technology, voids a US$66 billion submarine deal Australia signed with France in 2016.

Beyond the financial implications his country will face after Australia’s change of mind, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the U.S. and its partners of “lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt.”

A Sept. 22 telephone conversation between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron helped sketch a path toward reconciliation. The two leaders agreed on in-depth consultations on matters of strategic interest, to be followed by a meeting in Europe at the end of October. Yet Le Drian acknowledged that resolving the crisis “would take time and require actions.”

But despite French outrage over the deal, there is little chance of irreparable damage between the two countries. If anything, the current diplomatic crisis highlights a cycle of conflict and rapprochement that, as my research shows, has been characteristic of U.S.-France relations since the very beginning.

High expectations between the U.S. and a country that is often described as its “oldest ally” have often led to diplomatic misunderstandings and quarrels in the past.

‘Perfidy,’ privateers and protests

Less than 20 years after French and American soldiers fought side by side against the British on the battlefields of Brandywine and Yorktown, the two nations were at odds over the Jay Treaty of 1794, which restored economic relations between the U.S. and Great Britain.

France considered the treaty a betrayal by America. In a note that echoes minister Le Drian’s recent grievances, the governing five-member French Directorate complained that “The government of the United States has added the full measure of perfidy towards the French Republic, its most faithful ally.”

France consequently allowed its privateers to seize U.S. merchant ships, inflicting considerable injury to American commerce.

In the U.S., protests erupted in Philadelphia demanding war with France. And Congress soon passed legislation to fund a naval force, as well as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to 14 years, allowed the deportation of foreigners who were considered dangerous and restricted speech critical of the government.

The undeclared naval war that followed, later known as the “Quasi-War,” continued until the 1800 Treaty of Mortefontaine, which reestablished more friendly relations between the two countries. During the hostilities, France seized over 2,000 American ships along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies.

US ill will

The two nations again barely avoided war during the 1852-1870 reign of Napoleon III.

In 1862, the French emperor attempted to establish a puppet regime in Mexico and installed Maximilian of Habsburg as emperor of Mexico.

For Napoleon III, this Catholic and Latin monarchy would counter the influence of the Protestant and republican U.S. in the New World.

The U.S. considered the move a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, the foreign policy established in 1823 by President James Monroe which stated that any European interference in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as a hostile act against the U.S.

Although the U.S. could not retaliate directly during the Civil War, fearing France would side with the Confederacy, Secretary of State William Henry Seward repeatedly warned the French that their interference in Mexico would lead to grave consequences.

By 1865, with the Civil War over, talk of a Franco-American war became widespread after President Andrew Johnson sent General John M. Schofield to Paris to warn the French that time was running out before the U.S. would resort to military intervention to expel Napoleon III’s forces from Mexico.

Although Napoleon III finally agreed to withdraw his troops, this Mexican intervention earned France much ill will in the U.S.

Its effects would be felt during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, when despite the U.S. government’s neutral position, American public opinion clearly favored the Germans over the French.

20th-century tension

Diplomatic crises between the U.S. and France recurred throughout the 20th century.

According to U.S. diplomat George Vest, President Charles de Gaulle’s decision to withdraw France from NATO’s integrated military command in 1966 prompted former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and other foreign policy advisors to “figure every single way to throw the book back at France, put our relations to the minimum, retaliate in every punitive way we could.”

In the end, however, President Lyndon B. Johnson responded by telling de Gaulle that the U.S. was determined to join with other NATO members in preserving the deterrent system of the alliance.

In 1986, relations again soured after President François Mitterrand refused to let American bomber planes fly through French airspace on their way to strike military targets in Libya. Anti-French demonstrations followed in several U.S. cities. Crowds poured Bordeaux wine down the gutter and burned French products in bonfires.

Another crisis followed France’s refusal to support the U.S invasion of Iraq in 2003. American officials’ anger and desire to “punish France” was accompanied by a media campaign against the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”

The diplomatic confrontation left very serious strains, which were not fully resolved until 2005, when bilateral relations resumed a more normal course.

In all these instances, as in today’s crisis, reactions on both sides went beyond the realm of politics: The language of passion replaced the more neutral discourse of diplomacy.

This passionate turn is the result of the mythology that surrounds France’s vision of itself as the “oldest ally” of the U.S. and of America’s idealistic vision of itself as France’s sole savior during World War I and World War II.

This mythology that whatever happens, France and the U.S. should always be on the same side – politically, economically and diplomatically – hinders more realistic relations between the two countries.

Going beyond the “oldest ally” rhetoric could allow both countries to take a more productive look at the true nature of their relations: those of two democratic nations whose interests sometimes coincide, sometimes diverge in the complex world of 21st-century international relations.The Conversation

Hervé-Thomas Campangne, Professor of French Studies, University of Maryland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

John Sanderson, Alexis de Tocqueville et Jules Janin Sketches of Paris, ou la question de la démocratie sous la monarchie de Juillet

This article examines parallels between John Sanderson's Sketches of Paris (1838), and Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1835-1840)

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne

In June 1835, writer John Sanderson traveled to France, where he stayed until May 1836. Upon his return to Philadelphia, he published his Sketches of Paris: In Familiar Letters to His Friends by an American Gentleman, which met with great success on both sides of the Atlantic. Printed in Philadelphia in 1838, the Sketches were published in London the same year with the title The American in Paris. A few years later, French novelist Jules Janin produced a successful adaptation in two volumes. This article contends that the Sketches were written by an author whose perspective represents the paradigm of American democracy as described by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s: Sanderson observes and attempts to understand French mores and institutions through the prism of equality of condition, decentralization, public participation in politics, social mobility, the separation of powers, and the influence of commerce and industry. The second portion of the article examines Jules Janin’s adaptation of the Sketches of Paris in his two volumes titled Un hiver à Paris and L’été à Paris. Contrary to what Janin would have his readers believe, the volumes are a very loose adaptation rather than a translation of Sanderson’s work. Whereas the American writer was highly critical of French society under the July Monarchy, Janin portrays Sanderson as an enthusiastic “Yankee,” an “American LaBruyère,” who was supposedly a fervent admirer and defender of the culture and institutions of Louis-Philippe’s France. The history and legacy of Sanderson’s Sketches represents, therefore, an intriguing form of cultural, literary, and political transference: in order to show that the July Monarchy was the logical, inevitable, and admirable outcome of French history, a French author – who, in 1870, was elected to the seat of Sainte-Beauve at the Académie française – appropriated the work of an American author who examined France through the prism of the young American democracy.

La réception du traité de Paris (1783) et l’imaginaire des relations franco-américaines

This article deals with representations of France–United States relations at the time of the treaties of Paris and Versailles (1783)

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne

This article deals with representations of France–United States relations at the time of the treaties of Paris and Versailles (1783). It provides a study of the numerous texts and abundant iconography that dealt with the treaties in the years 1783-1784 on both sides of the Atlantic. Written from the perspective of cultural history, its goal is to go beyond traditional historiographic perspectives and show that the French and the Americans did not share the same vision of the relationship between their two nations. As the American War of Independence ended and a new world order arose, a divide soon developed between, on the one hand, an idealized vision of the French–American friendship and, on the other hand, the realities of international trade and politics. The images and representations analyzed in this study played a key role as France–United States relations were being shaped: as such, they provide important insights into interactions between the two nations in the 1780s and beyond.

Cannibals, Monsters and Weasels: Creating a French Enemy in the United States during the 1790s Quasi-War and the 2003 Iraq War Diplomatic Crisis

This article examines tensions in France-United States relations at the time of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne

This article assesses the creation of an enemy image of France and the French in the United States in two separate historical contexts. Although France and the United States have usually enjoyed rather positive relations throughout history after the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1778, the French were widely depicted as America’s enemy during the late 1790s Quasi-War, and more recently after France refused to support U.S. military intervention in Iraq in 2003-2004. In the first instance, an undeclared naval war opposed the two countries as the French government allowed for seizure of American ships in the wake of the 1795 Jay Treaty the US had signed with Great Britain, a conflict which escalated when U.S. navy later began to fight the French in the Caribbean. In 2003-2004, an acute diplomatic crisis induced a confrontation between the two nations when France suggested it would use its veto power to block passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a U.S.- led military operation against Iraq. The aim of this study is to provide an understanding of the process through which the image of France was transformed, in both historical contexts, from that of ally and friend into that of a threatening other. Particular attention is paid to the creation and use of cultural stereotypes in statements by American officials, as well as in the media campaigns that characterized both diplomatic crises. Although the enemy image of France underwent significant changes between 1797 and 2003, our research shows that a number of cultural stereotypes that were created during the Quasi-War were revived during the 2003 diplomatic crisis. Chief amongst those is the association of France with terror and tyranny. This article also examines the deep political divisions that pitted Federalists against Republicans in the 1790s, and Neo-Conservative “hawks” against anti-war “doves” in 2003. These disputes shed light on the creation of enemy images of France in the United States. In both cases, the French antagonist was as mirror and a scapegoat that provides as much information on American identity and U.S. political debates as it does about American views on France and the French.

Framing the Early Modern French Best Seller: American Settings for François de Belleforest’s Tragic Histories

This article studies images of the Americas in Early Modern France

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne
This article shows how François de Belleforest (1530–83) adapted a variety of historical and geographical sources to meet the demands of the histoire tragique genre in composing three narratives set in the Americas. One recounts the destiny of conquistador Francisco Pizarro; another is the story of Marguerite de Roberval, who was allegedly marooned on a Canadian island; the third concerns Taino cacique Enriquillo’s heroic rebellion in 1520s Hispaniola. These narratives fostered a tragic image of the Americas that had a considerable influence on early modern readers, inviting them to ponder essential questions about European encounters with the American continent and its inhabitants.


L'expérience transnationale d'un Français aux États-Unis au seuil de la Seconde Guerre mondiale: Raoul de Roussy de Sales

This conference examines the writings and career of Raoul de Roussy de Sales, a French press correspondent who was stationed in New York and Washington D.C. at the beginning of World War II

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Lead: Hervé Thomas Campangne

This invited conference at the Université de Bretagne in May 2021 examined the transnational experience of Raoul de Roussy de Sales, who covered events in the United States for the French press at the beginning of World War II. A bi-national French/American writer and intellectual, Roussy became an influential figure in France-United States cultural and diplomatic relations. As the author of articles published in The Atlantic Monthly and other north American outlets, he provided a bi-cultural view on the American experience. A version of this conference will be published in proceedings in 2022.