Fall 2007

Pariscape: Imagining Paris in the Twentieth Century


Ronald C. Rosbottom (Section 01)


Paris has been for centuries one of the exemplary sites of our urban sensibility, a city that has indelibly and controversially influenced the twentieth-century imagination. Poets, novelists and essayists, painters, photographers and film-makers: all have made use of Paris and its cityscape to examine relationships among technology, literature, city planning, art, social organizations, politics and what we might call the urban imagination. This course will study how these writers and visual artists have seen Paris, and how, through their representations, they created and challenged the "modernist" world view. In order to discover elements of a common memory of Paris, we will study a group of writers (Apollinaire, Calvino, Stein, Hemingway and others), philosophers and social commentators (Simmel, Benjamin, Barthes), filmmakers (Clair, Truffaut, Tati and others), photographers (Atget, Brassai) and painters (DeChirico, Picasso, Delaunay, and others). Finally, we will look at how such factors as tourism, print media, public works, immigration and suburban development affect a city's simultaneous and frequently uncomfortable identity as both a geopolitical and an imaginative site. First semester. Professor Rosbottom.