About the Department
The Department of History at the University of Akron is a vibrant community of scholar-teachers, graduate students and undergraduate majors. Our courses cover all time periods, from the ancient world to the recent past, span the globe from North and South America, to Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and address a number of subjects, including political, military, diplomatic, social, intellectual, global, cultural, environmental and public history, the history of science, gender and race. The faculty is tremendously active, pursuing a wide range of scholarly activities, including research and various forms of public engagement in the region and beyond, as well as providing service to the profession and the university. The department operates a Master’s and Ph.D. program, and maintains 4 million dollar endowment for scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students. All members of the department are committed to student success through advising, teaching, mentoring and supervising research projects and internships. By emphasizing research and communication skills, internships and a deep knowledge of the past as an essential element for citizenship and moral understanding, the department prepares undergraduate and graduate students for a variety of careers, further education in graduate and law programs, and lifelong learning and participation in civic life for the 21st century.
Friday, March 1, 2013. Dr. Stephen Harp
“Leveraging International Nudist Demand: Albert Lecocq and the Founding of Montalivet in Postwar France.”
12 – 1 p. m. Student Union Room 312.
In the interwar years, France had at most a few thousand nudists. By the end of the twentieth century, each year up to 2 million people practiced nudism in France, of whom about half were foreign. This marked transformation resulted, in large part, from the efforts of Albert Lecocq, who realized that international nude tourists served as critical leverage in cash-strapped postwar France. Near the town of Vendays-Montalivet on public land recently ruined by forest fires, Lecocq's Centre Hélio-Marin Montalivet welcomed tens of thousands of international nudists. There they inevitably praised its wide, sandy, and isolated beach, and noted the remnants of the Atlantic Wall, symbols of a past they were overcoming through international cooperation. By the late 1950s, Lecocq succeeded in creating, in the words of visitors, an “Eden,” “a paradise,” a “European Bali” for French nudists. He did so by convincing the municipality that at least half of visitors were well-heeled foreigners who brought hard currency to an area with little else to offer international tourists. Lecocq's experience reveals the importance of transnational nude tourism in the creation of tourist infrastructure in postwar France; the critical role played by municipal authorities in the eventual acceptance of nudism in France; and the importance of international tourists in the transformation of beachfront mores in France, even if popular American notions of France often “essentialize” nude beaches as somehow inherently French.
This talk is part of the “Research for Lunch” Series organized by the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Programs.