Culture Courses - Only in Paris Track
111. Histories of Paris
Christina von Koehler
Using the buildings and space of Paris as a laboratory, this course surveys key events in the histories of Paris and France. The course will focus on the social and cultural history of the city in its material dimensions; the relation of streets and buildings to the unfolding events of French history, and the meanings of local topography within the enduring mythologies of the city. A central goal of the course is to teach students to read and write critically about the history of Paris and the cityscape around them. Includes some excursions.
5.0 UC quarter units. This course has previously transferred for these subject areas: History/Sociology/Urban Studies
117. Media, Politics & Society in France & the EU
This course will explore and critically analyse major institutions, actors and trends in contemporary French Media and attempt to situate them in the larger contexts of “unifying” Europe and “globalized” world-media-scene. It will examine the operational schemes, performances and internal decisional and power structures of different branches of French media: written national & regional press, specialized magazines, the publishing industry, advertising, radio, television, the internet. It will also engage in a specific analysis of ‘New Media’ and ‘Social Networks’ involvement, influence and interaction with ‘traditional’ media spheres and their political, social, and cultural impacts.
5.0 UC quarter units. This course has previously transferred for these subject areas: Communication/Film and Media Studies/Political Science
126. Food and Dining in French Art: From the Early Modern Period to the Present
Food as a theme has been present in art since prehistoric times. Beyond their aesthetic qualities, representations of food and dining reveal social, religious, economic, historical, and scientific beliefs and practices present in the cultures in which they are created. France has long been esteemed for both its art and its gastronomy—in 2010, UNESCO added the “Gastronomic meal of the French” to its Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This course aims to combine these two creative domains by exploring the place of food and dining in French art, with a focus on the modern and contemporary periods.
We will begin by studying and decoding the archetypal representations of succulent food still life and genre painting created in prosperous 16th-17th century Holland, which establish the conventions of the genre for centuries to come. We will then examine the rise of these previously minor and undervalued artistic genres in 18th century France, thanks to figures such as Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, whose celebrated food still life paintings coincide with the birth of French gastronomy during the reign of Louis XV. We will next explore how frivolous depictions of aristocrats wining, dining and indulging in exotic beverages like coffee and hot chocolate give way in post-Revolutionary, 19th century France to visions of austerity and “real life”, featuring potato-eating peasants who toil in the fields to produce the bounty of the harvest.
Our focus will then shift to representations of food and dining in the age of modernity, when Paris was the undisputed capital of art, luxury, haute cuisine and innovation. We will analyze how Impressionist picnics and café scenes transgress social and artistic codes, shedding light on the tenets of modern life and art, and how, building on their momentum, Paul Cézanne launches an aesthetic revolution with an apple. Paul Gauguin’s depictions of mangos and guavas speak to his quest for new, “exotic” sources of inspiration, and will allow us to discuss questions of race and French colonialist discourse.
Drawing from these pictorial and social innovations, we will subsequently observe the place of food and dining themes in the rapid succession of avant-garde movements that emerge in early 20th century Paris, whose defiance of conventional society and art lead them to transform these previously comforting and pleasant themes into troubling “anti-diets”. This will lead us to question the place of food—or its absence--in art to capture the suffering and violence of 20th century upheavals like the Second World War.
We will conclude our study with the place of food and dining in contemporary art, beginning with the Pop Art movement which further elevates the quotidian while calling into question postwar consumer society and art through its representations of industrialized, mass-produced food. We will then explore how contemporary creators in a plural and globalized art scene use these traditional themes to challenge and redefine the status and roles of the artist, the spectator, and the work of art itself, as food becomes an artistic material, the remains of a meal become a tableau, artist becomes restaurateur and the focus shifts to the inedible. Finally, we will explore how depictions of food in visual art grapple with multiculturalism in French contemporary society.
Throughout the course, representations of food and dining will be studied as a means to survey the evolution of French art, and as significant markers of social, ethnic and cultural identity. Our analysis of these depictions will also provide the opportunity to learn about dietary and dining customs, habits and beliefs prevalent in France from the early modern period to the present.
5.0 UC quarter units. This course can transfer for these subject areas: Art History/History/Sociology
127. Food for Thought: Politics of Food and Environment in France
There is a good reason why France was showcased at the Paris Climate Change Summit in 2015. According to the 2016 Food and Nutrition Sustainability Index (FSI) published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), France is a pioneer country ranking first amongst 25 countries. France scores highest on policy and governmental action including its quality of response to food losses, tackling distribution-level loss, management of water supplies, climate change mitigation, and unhealthy eating habits. Growing public concern on the issue of food wastage recently led to the ‘Supermarket Law’, making France the first country in the world to penalize supermarkets that throw away edible products to end food waste. As global population rises at the same time as food consumption, it is crucial to understand how problems of food and the environment occur at all stages of the production and supply chains. Environmental concerns linked with food are not unique to France, a nation of gourmets and haute cuisine, but France can serve as a case study to interrogate the complexities of environmental politics and controversies. This course aims to introduce students to the politics and controversies of environmental issues in France and their inter-connections with food and similar politics at the EU and UN levels. In doing so, it will explore some pressing environmental issues facing the country such as GMO politics, food wastage, air pollution, water pollution, species extinction, environmental justice, trade, climate change and the impact of chemicals on health to name a few. It will critically assess the nature of problems encountered; and discuss workable solutions for sustainable development in order to avoid a “tragedy of the commons."
5.0 UC quarter units credits. Suggested subject areas for this course: Political Science/Environmental Science/European Studies
129. Parisian Voices in Literature
In this course, students will engage in discussions prompted by a multiplicity of voices that make up what has been often referred to as the Parisian mosaic - a mosaic whose colorful tiles represent a collection of diverse and multivalent identities. Students will explore how the voices that have emerged in the past several decades bring myriad perspectives, ranging from "traditional" French culture to first and subsequent generation immigrant cultures, many of which come from former French colonies in the Francophone world, to bear on Parisian society and how these contemporary voices take a sometimes playful but often critical look at the identity of their post-war and postcolonial society. The course will, therefore, focus on examining the different social worlds that make contemporary Paris such a fascinating, diverse, and culturally important city. Through readings and class excursions to sites important to their understanding of the texts, students will trace some of the ways French alongside the more problematically termed Francophone writers and filmmakers have made their sundry voices heard over the past half a century.
5.0 UC quarter units. This course has previously transferred for these subject areas: Comparative Literature/French/History
135. Faces of the City, Faces of French Cinema
This course examines French films from the birth of cinema in 1895 to the more recent creations celebrated at the Cannes Festival in 2014. We will be studying selected avant-garde and popular films and we will explore how film narratives can reflect historical and social conditions in France during a given time. The following periods will be discussed: Early cinema (the Lumière brothers, Alice Guy, Méliès); the Golden Age of French classical cinema (Renoir), the “New Wave” (Varda, Godard), the “Cinéma du Look” (Besson), “Heritage Cinema” (Claire Denis) and the challenges of Globalization (Sciamma). The course will also cover several film genres, from the birth of the fantastique to the influence of the film noir on New Wave cinema. We will explore the cross-cultural interactions between French cinema and foreign films and how French cinema as an art form has had a deep impact on international cinema. Films and readings will be supplemented by site visits. Most of the films chosen for this class were shot in Paris and reveal the city’s different faces, going from the romanticized version in Agnès Varda’s film or Claire Denis’ grittier version. One of the class visit will consist of going back to the streets where Cleo from 5 to 7 was shot in 1962 and analyze how the city was filmed then and how the 6th and 14th arrondissement have evolved since. We will also go to a Cinémathèque exhibition and we will have a director come discuss his work with the class.
5.0 UC quarter units credits. Suggested subject areas for this course: Film/Gender Studies/History