In a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal, French professor Caroline Weber explores the historical context of the recent terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. The in-depth essay describes how the tradition of "radical anticlericalism" in France fostered the cultural climate which ultimately spawned the satirical magazine. An excerpt:
"The imperviousness of modern-day Catholics to Charlie Hebdo’s brand of satire is itself a byproduct of French anticlerical culture. After more than 500 years of ridicule, Catholicism has finally become 'banalized' (that is, lost its status as a taboo subject), in a neologism coined by Charb himself in 2012. He went on to say, 'We have to keep at it until Islam is as banalized as Catholicism.' Charb was among those murdered on Wednesday."
An associate professor in the French department, Prof. Weber joined Barnard's faculty in 2005. In addition to her teaching duties for the French department, Prof. Weber is affiliated with Barnard's Comparative Literature Program. Her essays have appeared in a wide variety of academic and mainstream publications.