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Paris in the Nineteenth-Century Imaginary

Module information>

Modes of Study
On campus in Paris

This course introduces students to a range of literary and visual texts from the main literary and artistic movements produced during and on the nineteenth century.

This (30 credit) course introduces students to a range of literary and visual texts from the main literary and artistic movements produced during and on the nineteenth century in which the city of Paris emerges as a central focus of interest. Using Lukács’s ideas on the historical novel as a starting point, it considers the novel’s growth in popularity as a specifically nineteenth-century phenomenon, related to the growth of the historicising consciousness and the democratisation of literacy. 

Students are given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the development of some of the main literary and artistic movements (e.g. romanticism, realism, naturalism, impressionism, symbolism, decadentism) of the nineteenth century through their readings of the texts and artworks studied. Typical content includes works by Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, Zola, Huysmans, Daumier, Philipon, Cézanne and Moreau. 

Module aims 

  • To introduce students to a range of literary and other texts written during the nineteenth century with Paris as a central focus of interest. 
  • To familiarise students with the development of some of the main literary and aesthetic movements of the nineteenth century through their readings of the texts (e.g. gothic revival, realism, naturalism, impressionism, decadentism). 
  • To analyse the role played by Paris, both as an environment facilitating literary and aesthetic experimentation for the authors and artists studied, and as an object of discussion within the works studied. 

Module structure 

Teaching takes place in weekly two-hour sessions, involving discussion, textual analysis and student presentations. The module is assessed though a 4000-word essay due after the end of teaching.