Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit

HISTORY 4LP3 Cultrl Hist, Paris:1789-1914

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Meredith Reddy

Email: NULL

Office: Chester New Hall 607C

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27144


Office Hours: Wednesday 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Course Objectives:

Course Description and Objectives

This seminar course examines the cultural history of Paris (1789-1914) – a city long associated with major advancements in the arts – during a period of dramatic political upheaval, industrial expansion, and revolution.  The course will undertake a close study of the broad historical frameworks that surround examples drawn from fields of architecture, fine art, literature, and mass media/popular culture.  In this way, we will consider the layers of social meaning that envelope cultural productions.  This course moves in a chronological fashion from the period of the French revolution (1789–1792) culminating in the Belle Époque (1890-1914).  However, as our discussions are thematic in nature, covering a range of broad cultural topics, there will necessarily be some deviation from historical chronology.  Topics to be examined include: developments in the arts and sciences, architecture and city planning; the conservation of historic buildings and monuments; cultural institutions such as museums and art exhibitions; and the impact of gender, race and economics on experiences and concepts of identity in France’s capital.
Seminar (two hours)

Term I (September 2017 – December 2017)

Prerequisite(s): Registration in Level IV of any Honours program in Art or Art History

Course format and expectations: The class will meet once a week for two hours.  This is a discussion based seminar class, and its success hinges on all students coming prepared every week.  Regular attendance and participation in discussion is expected of all students. 

Please ensure that cell phones are turned off and stowed away during class time.  Laptops are permitted in class for note taking purposes only.     

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required texts:

Readings for this course will be made available as scanned PDF’s on Avenue to Learn.  All students must ensure that they have access to this site.

Method of Assessment:

Course Evaluation

Essay proposal (due in class on October 18)      10%

Weekly responses (x 8)                                 25%

Final research essay (due in class on Dec.6)    35%

Participation*                                                   30%


*Your mark for participation will be based on regular attendance and active participation in class discussion, demonstrating an interest in the course content, and a thoughtful engagement with the material.  There will also be a portion of your participation grade (5%) that will be based on a short and informal presentation of your essay topic during the final week of class. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Policy on missed work, extensions, and late penalties

All term work must be submitted by the assigned date. A penalty of 3% per day of lateness will be applied to any late submissions. Work will not be accepted beyond one week after the due date (unless granted an extension due to special considerations).  If you have a serious medical emergency or death in the family, it is your responsibility to contact me immediately and to provide acceptable documentation for your absence.  Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Schedule of Weekly Topics and Readings

Week 1 (September 6)                        Introduction

There are no required readings for this week.  This week will provide an introductory review of the course objectives and an overview of the material we will be covering. 

Week 2 (September 13)          The Terror and the shadow of the guillotine

Required reading

  1. Philip Smith, “Narrating the Guillotine: Punishment Technology as Myth and Symbol,” Theory, Culture & Society 20, no. 5 (October 2003): 27-51.
  2. T.J. Clark, “Painting in the Year Two,” Representations, no.47 (Summer 1994): 13-56.
  3. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage Books, 1979), (selection).

Week 3 (September 20)          Revolution and gendered identity during the Napoleonic Era

Required reading

  1. Norman Bryson, “Gericault and Masculinity,” in Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations (Hanover: University Press of New England for Wesleyan University Press, 1994).
  2. Jennifer Heuer, "‘No More Fears, no More Tears’: Gender, Emotion and the Aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars in France," Gender & History 28, no. 2 (2016): 438-60.

Recommended further reading

  1. Susan Locke Siegfried, ‘Naked History: The Rhetoric of Military Painting in Postrevolutionary France’, The Art Bulletin vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun., 1993), pp. 235-258.  

Week 4 (September 27)          French newspapers and political caricature in Paris during the July Monarchy

Required reading

  1. Elizabeth Childs, “Big Trouble: Daumier, Gargantua and the Censorship of Political Caricature,” Art Journal 5, no. 1 (Spring 1992): 26-37.
  2. Karen L. Humphreys, “Bas-bleus, filles publiques, and the Literary Marketplace in the Work of Barbey d’Aurevilly,” French Studies 66, no. 1 (2012): 26 – 40.

Recommended further reading

  1. James Cuno, “Charles Philipon, La Maison Aubert, and the Business of Caricature in Paris, 1829-41”, Art Journal 43, no. 4 (1983): 347–354.

Week 5 (October 4)                The streets of Paris: From the barricades to the sewers

Required reading

  1. Kory Olson, "‘Aux Armes, Citoyens!’: Mapping Regime Change in Charles Motte’s Plan Figuratif Des Barricades (1830)," French Cultural Studies 21, no.1 (2010): 3-17.
  2. Shao-Chien Tseng, “Nadar’s Photography of Subterranean Paris: Mapping the Urban Body,” History of Photography 38, no. 3 (July 2014): 233-254.
  3. Matthew Grandy, “The Paris Sewers and the Rationalization of Urban Space,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers ns 24, no. 1 (1999): 23-44.

Recommended further reading

  1. Brian Chapman, “Baron Haussmann and the Planning of Paris,” The Town Planning Review 24, no. 3 (October 1953), 177-192.

Essay proposals due in class

Week 6 (October 11)  ------ Fall Recess Period (no class this week) ------

Week 7 (October 18)             Flaneur culture in Paris

Required reading

  1. Mary Gluck, “The Flâneur and the Aesthetic Appropriation of Urban Culture in Mid-19th-century Paris,” Theory, Culture & Society 20, no. 5 (2003): 53-80.
  2. Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life,” in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (1863). 
  3. Walter Benjamin, “Paris – Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” (1939). 

Week 8 (October 25)              Rebel culture: The Paris Commune

Required reading

  1. Hollis Clayson, “A Wintry Masculinity: Art, Soldiering, and Gendered Space in Paris under Siege,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 20, no. 4 (January 1999): 385-408.
  2. Martin P. Johnson, “Memory and the Cult of Revolution in the 1871 Paris Commune,”  Journal of Women's History 9, no. 1 (1997):  39 – 57.

Recommended further reading

  1. Gay L. Gullickson, Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Paris Commune (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996).

Week 9 (November 1)            Outside the Salon: French avant-garde art

Required reading

  1. Stephen Eisenman, “The Instransigeant Artist or How the Impressionists Got Their Name,” in Art in Modern Culture: An Anthology of Critical Texts, ed. Francis Frascina et al. (Harper Collins, 1992), 189-198. 
  2. Selected writings on the first Impressionist exhibition from Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, eds. Art in Theory, 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford; Cambridge: Blackwell, 1993). (See excerpts by Castagnary and Leroy)
  3. Hollis Clayson, “Suspicious Professions,” in Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (New Haven : Yale University Press, 1991). 

Week 10 (November 8)          Spaces of Spectacle: The Opera and the Department Store 

*If time permits, may watch an excerpt from a relevant film this week in class. 

Required reading

  1. Emile Zola, Au Bonheur des Dames (Paris: Charpentier, 1883) – selection  
  2. Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera (London: W.H. Allen, 1985) – selection

Recommended further reading

  1. Lorraine Coons, "Artiste Or Coquette? Les Petits Rats of the Paris Opera Ballet," French Cultural Studies 25, no. 2 (2014): 140-64.
  2. Robert Proctor, "Constructing the Retail Monument: The Parisian Department Store and its Property, 1855–1914," Urban History 33, no. 3 (2006): 393-410.

NOTE: The last day to withdraw without academic penalty is November 10, 2017          

Week 11 (November 15)        Medical Theatre and the Cinema: Spectacles of Mind and Spirit

Required reading

  1. Joanthan Marshall, “Dynamic Medicine and Theatrical Form at the fin de siècle : A formal analysis of Dr Jean-Martin Charcot's pedagogy, 1862–1893,” Modernism/modernity 15, no. 1 (January 2008): 131-153.
  2. Mireille Berton, "The ‘Magism’ of Cinema and Imaginary Spiritism in France at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century," Early Popular Visual Culture 13, no. 2 (2015): 113-33.

Recommended further reading

  1. Françoise Parot, "Psychology Experiments: Spiritism at the Sorbonne," Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences 29.1 (1993): 22-8.

Week 12 (November 22)        Technical and architectural innovation at the Paris World’s Fair

Required reading

  1. John W. Stamper, “The Galerie des Machines of the 1889 Paris World’s Fair,” Technology and Culture 30, no. 2 (April 1989): 330-353.
  2. Debora Silverman, “Introduction: Transformation of Art Nouveau, 1889-1900,” in Art nouveau in fin-de-siècle France: politics, psychology, and style (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).  
  3. Erkki Huhtamo, (Un)walking at the Fair: About Mobile Visualities at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900,” Journal of Visual Culture 12, no. 1 (2013): 61-88.

Recommended further reading

  1. Margueritte Murphy, “Commodity Aesthetics: The Industrial Exhibitions of Paris, 1834–1844, reviewed,” Journal of European Studies 40, no. 1 (March 2010): 23-38. 

Week 13 (November 29)        Radicalism, anti-feminism, and anti-Semitism in the fin-de-siècle era

Required reading

  1. Daid C. Jones, “’A Beastly Affair’: Visual Representations of Animality and the Politics of the Dreyfus Affair,” Canadian Journal of History http://search.proquest.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/assets/r20151.8.0-4/core/spacer.gif46, no. 1 http://search.proquest.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/assets/r20151.8.0-4/core/spacer.gif(Spring/Summer 2011): 35-62.
  2. Christopher Forth, “Adventures of the Naked Truth: The Dreyfus Affair and the Female Form,” French Cultural Studies 12, no. 35 (2001): 123-147.
  3. Debora Silverman, “Amazone Femme Nouvelle and the Threat,” in Art nouveau in fin-de-siècle France: politics, psychology, and style (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

Week 14 (December 6)           Conclusions + Class Presentations

Final papers due in class this week

Our final class will also be devoted to brief in-class presentations of the topics that were selected for your final papers. 

Other Course Information:

Language requirement:

A reading-level of proficiency in French is recommended for success in this class.  The assigned readings for this course are primarily in English, but as this class is concerned with French history a moderate understanding of French will be beneficial both for the course readings and your research for the final paper. 

Use of Avenue to Learn

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course.  The available information is dependent on the technology used.  Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure.  If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.