Courses available in French


On ne naît pas femme, on le devient.

— de Beauvoir

French 180C: French Civilization — The Experience of Modernity in 19th-Century Paris


Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (GF Flammarion no. 826/2006); Charles Baudelaire, Le Spleen de Paris (Livre de poche/2003); Gustave Flaubert, L’Education Sentimentale (GF-Lycée/2001 ISBN2080711032); Emile Zola, Au Bonheur des dames (GF/1998 ISBN    2080710869); Rachilde, Monsieur Venus, roman materialiste (MLA 2004/ISBN 9780873529297)

Recommended Readings:

David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity; TJ Clark, The Painter of Modern Life

Course Description:

This course explores the experience and representation of urban modernity in 19th century Paris. Drawing on classic literature of the period along with readings in cultural criticism and art history, we will consider the novel as a laboratory for new forms of knowledge and representation. Our readings address the revolutionary upheavals and cultural transformations of the period: the complex legacy of revolution; shifting configurations of class struggle; the shocks of industrialization and capitalism; theories of social reform and progress; the transformation of history and urban life into spectacle; shopping, fashion and consumer culture; new forms of private and public space; scientific and medical discourses on gender, class and race. Along with major social and historical transitions of the period, we will also address aesthetic movements such as realism, naturalism and decadence.


French 102 or consent of instructor.

Additional information: 

This course satisfies 1 “Culture” or 1  “Elective” course requirement in the French major.   This course also satisfies College of Letters and Science breadth in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Priority enrollment for declared French majors.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes