Paris in 19th and 20th Century French Literature

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This course will allow students to compare and contrast their vision and experience of Paris with various literary works. Our objective is not only to compare the reality of Paris to its fictive elaboration, but also to understand the narrative and descriptive techniques that individual writers use to construct their personal representations of Paris.  We will study the subject through three mediums: literary texts, active visiting of Parisian locations, and personal texts and memoir. The course will thus be organized into three parts:
  1. Readings of extracts as well as completed works, which will allow us to engage with different themes associated with Paris
  2. Guided written exercises, accompanied by assigned readings and Parisian outings
  3. Presentations, discussions, with a focus on historical and thematic themes, songs and questions related to Paris

This course includes multiple Parisian visits: the homes of famous writers (Hugo, Balzac, Vian), exhibitions (Carnavalet Museum, Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine), and outings in Paris (both group visits and individual student visits)


This course is offered during the regular semester and in the summer. For summer sections, the course schedule is condensed, but the content, learning outcomes, and contact hours are the same.