French 285/History 210: Re-Reading/Re-Writing Paris

This Spring 2013 course began by studying foundational concepts of history, memory, and space.  The figure of the palimpsest—a text whose multiple layers of writing are legible, despite efforts to erase past inscriptions—was a guiding trope as we progressed through the term, exploring notions of official and unofficial memory, power and violence, the urban flâneur, universalism, and foreignness in the Parisian context.  Each topic allowed us to examine in detail a specific event or movement in French history (the Algerian War, 19th-century Hausmannization, the French Revolution, 17th-century Absolutism, Renaissance Humanism, and 20th- and 21st-century tourism), as well as specific sites of central importance to the cultural text of Paris (the Eiffel Tower, Père Lachaise cemetery, Montmartre, the Louvre, the Bastille, the Latin Quarter, etc.).  Throughout the term, the course invited students to think about how their own practices—of walking, consuming, reading, and writing about the city—participate in the Parisian “text.”  The project for this course, Paris 2013, includes mapping and timeline functionalities.  This course was co-taught by Professor Sarah Horowitz of the Department of History and Professor Katie Chenoweth of the Department of Romance Languages.

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