Fall 2017

Pariscape: Imagining Paris in the Twentieth Century

Moodle site: Course


Ronald C. Rosbottom (Section 01)


For centuries, Paris has been an exemplary site of our urban sensibility, a city that has indelibly and controversially influenced the world’s imagination since early modern times. 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 idea of the modern city.

In order to discover elements of a common memory of Paris, we will study a group of writers (Baudelaire, Zola, Calvino, Stein, Hemingway and others), philosophers and social commentators (Simmel, Benjamin), filmmakers (Truffaut, Godard, Tati and others), photographers (Atget and Brassaï), and painters (Manet, Cézanne, 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.

This is a course where participation will be expected of each and every student.  To do well, each student will be expected to be an active participant in each class meeting.  Written work should reflect the quality of the seminar’s discussions.  Logic in argument and rhetorical subtlety will be considered strengths.  I will provide extensive comments on student papers, and will expect students to discuss those comments—positive and negative—with me in private meetings.  Students will also work in teams on specific projects.

This course seeks to introduce students to the intellectual variety of the liberal arts, their content and methods.  We will touch on such disciplines as literary analysis and close reading, translation, history, sociology, psychology, photographic and film analysis, art and architectural history, anthropology, gender and ethnic studies, sexuality, demographics, politics and the law.  Knowledge of French is not necessary. We will perhaps take a field trip to New York.

Fall semester.  Professor Rosbottom.

If Overenrolled: Dean handles this.


Attention to Writing


2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2017