I must be blunt and say that nationalism is the theme that has been most prevalent in my papers. This could be due to my own bias in favor of the topic, or it might be a combination of my bias and the actual prevalence of nationalism in 1920s Paris. Whether by luck or some other equally ridiculous notion, nationalism has been central to all of my papers. This fact might not be surprising: I have thought about nationalism a lot in other contexts, especially in regards to what it means to be American, etc. It seems to me that the institutions, the people, and the music they created seem to be asking the same thing, if in the context of 20th century France.
Our in class discussions have helped me settle my own qualms with the concept of nationality and the idea of nations in itself. It is all too easy to see the lines drawn on modern maps and assume that nations are static, will remain static, and have always been the way the appear on maps now. It was very early on in the class that it became clear that nations are not merely the work of cartographers, but are instead the sum of all the people who identify as being a part of that nation. It is not surprising that the rise of nationalism that led to both World Wars in the last century was encouraged by the misled idea that people from different geographical locations are fundamentally different, and that these differences mean that one nation or the other is superior.
Considering the history of the formations of nations in Europe, the political climate in France, and the proximity of the First World War to the period we are studying, it is almost painfully obvious that nationalism is an essential part of the picture. Beginning with Le Coq et l’arlequin, and even factoring into the lack of acceptance of homosexuality in the period, nationalism pervades every aspect of this class. It would be interesting to see if what we have learned about how the Parisians dealt with nationalism could inform current issues in our own society. Although it would be nice to think that we have progressed from the hyper-nationalism of early 20th century Europe, but I rather doubt that we have.