An Historical Anatomy of the World’s Most Romantic City
80 :  The Cultural History of Paris
Fall 2023
Class No: 26155
2060 Valley Life Sciences Building
Nick Paige
11:00 AM - 11:59 AM

This class will offer students a historical exploration of the urban artifact that is Paris. Proceeding “forensically,” the class aims to peel back what is visible to today’s observer in order to uncover the historical, economic, and ideological forces that have produced one of the most visited cities in the world. Students can expect, first, to gain knowledge of the city’s infrastructure, from its historical center to its marginalized outer suburbs. More generally, we will attend to the overlapping layers in Paris’s built environment, which is also to say the way that the Instagrammable urban present is haunted by the displacements and traumas of the past. Rather than following a textbook, we will be reading a variety of primary and secondary texts (poems, a novel, a memoir, part of a play; ephemeral pieces and testimonials; selections from historical and sociological studies), as well as viewing a number of films and looking at a lot of visual works (paintings, engravings, photos, maps, graffiti). A brief data science unit studying recent trends in gentrification will complete our semester.