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Aesthetic Citizenship
Immigration and Theater in Twenty-First-Century Paris
Emine Fisek
Northwestern University Press, 2017
Aesthetic Citizenship is an ethnographic study of the role of theatrical performance in questions regarding immigration, citizenship, and the formation of national identity. Focusing on Paris in the twenty-first century, Emine Fisek analyzes the use of theater by immigrant-rights organizations there and examines the relationship between aesthetic practices and the political personhoods they negotiate.

From neighborhood associations and humanitarian alliances to arts organizations both large and small, Fisek traces how theater has emerged as a practice with the perceived capacity to address questions regarding immigrant rights, integration, and experience. In Aesthetic Citizenship, she explores how the stage, one of France’s most evocative cultural spaces, has come to play a role in contemporary questions about immigration, citizenship and national identity. Yet Fişek’s insightful research also illuminates Paris’s broader historical, political, and cultural through-lines that continue to shape the relationship between theater and migration in France. 

By focusing on how French public discourses on immigration are not only rendered meaningful but also inhabited and modified in the context of activist and arts practice, Aesthetic Citizenship seeks to answer the fundamental question: is theater a representational act or can it also be a transformative one?
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An African in Paris
Bernard Binlin Dadié; Translated by Karen C. Hatch
University of Illinois Press, 1994
Writing in an informal and episodic style, Bernard Dadié recounts a West African man's first journey to France, from the exhilarating moment when he obtains his ticket through a humorous and fascinating tour across the City of Light.

In 1959, when Un Negre a Paris first appeared, the French still held West Africa under colonial rule. Dadié's subtle parodies draw on intimate knowledge obtained over decades spent observing the colonizers abroad and now, suddenly, on their own home terrain. His remarks on Parisian living conditions, wordplay, manners, and and morals are entertaining and poignant, charming yet profound.

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The Assassination of Paris
Louis Chevalier
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Published to controversial acclaim in 1977, The Assassination of Paris describes the transformation of the Paris of Raymond Queneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson; of quartiers of carpenters and Communists and country folk from the Auvergne; of dance halls and corner cafes. Much of Louis Chevalier's Paris faced the wrecking ball in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, as Georges Pompidou, Andre Malraux and their cadres of young technocratic elites sought to proclaim the glory of the new France by reinventing the capital in brutal visions of glass and steel. Chevalier sought to tell the world what was at stake, and who the villains were.

He describes an almost continual parade of garish and grandiose plans: some, like the destruction of the glorious marketplace of les Halles for him the heart of the city, were realized; others, like the superhighway along the left bank of the Seine, were bitterly and successfully resisted.

Almost twenty years later, we find it difficult to remember the city as it was. And while Paris looks to many much the way it always has, behind the carefully sandblasted stone and restored shop fronts is a city radically transformed—emptied of centuries of popular life; of entire neighborhoods and the communities they housed engineered out to desolate suburban slums. The battle over the soul and spirit of the city continues.

This book is not entirely about the loss of physical places. Or a romance about a world that never really was. It is a cautionary tale filled with lessons for all who struggle to protect the human scale, the diversity, and the welcoming public life that are the threatened gifts of all great cities.
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Asylum, Prison, and Poorhouse
The Writings and Reform Work of Dorothea Dix in Illinois
David L. Lightner
Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

This illustrated collection of annotated newspaper articles and memorials by Dorothea Dix provides a forum for the great mid-nineteenth-century humanitarian and reformer to speak for herself.

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802­–87) was perhaps the most famous and admired woman in America for much of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the early 1840s, she launched a personal crusade to persuade the various states to provide humane care and effective treatment for the mentally ill by funding specialized hospitals for that purpose. The appalling conditions endured by most mentally ill inmates in prisons, jails, and poorhouses led her to take an active interest also in prison reform and in efforts to ameliorate poverty.

In 1846–­47 Dix brought her crusade to Illinois. She presented two lengthy memorials to the legislature, the first describing conditions at the state penitentiary at Alton and the second discussing the sufferings of the insane and urging the establishment of a state hospital for their care. She also wrote a series of newspaper articles detailing conditions in the jails and poorhouses of many Illinois communities.

These long-forgotten documents, which appear in unabridged form in this book, contain a wealth of information on the living conditions of some of the most unfortunate inhabitants of Illinois. In his preface, David L. Lightner describes some of the vivid images that emerge from Dorothea Dix's descriptions of social conditions in Illinois a century and a half ago: "A helpless maniac confined throughout the bitter cold of winter to a dark and filthy pit. Prison inmates chained in hallways and cellars because no more men can be squeezed into the dank and airless cells. Aged paupers auctioned off by county officers to whoever will maintain them at the lowest cost."

Lightner provides an introduction to every document, placing each memorial and newspaper article in its proper social and historical context. He also furnishes detailed notes, making these documents readily accessible to readers a century and a half later. In his final chapter, Lightner assesses both the immediate and the continuing impact of Dix's work.

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Behind the Bamboo Hedge
The Impact of the Homeland Politics in the Parisian Vietnamese Community
Gisele L. Bousquet
University of Michigan Press, 1991
Studies the critical role homeland politics plays in Vietnamese immigrants' assimilation into the host society
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City of Noise
Sound and Nineteenth-Century Paris
Aimee Boutin
University of Illinois Press, 2015
Beloved as the city of light, Paris in the nineteenth century sparked the acclaim of poets and the odium of the bourgeois with its distinctive sounds. Street vendors bellowed songs known as the Cris de Paris that had been associated with their trades since the Middle Ages; musicians itinerant and otherwise played for change; and flâneurs-writers, fascinated with the city's underside, listened and recorded much about what they heard.
 
Aimée Boutin tours the sonic space that orchestrated the different, often conflicting sound cultures that defined the street ambience of Paris. Mining accounts that range from guidebooks to verse, Boutin braids literary, cultural, and social history to reconstruct a lost auditory environment. Throughout, impressions of street noise shape writers' sense of place and perception of modern social relations. As Boutin shows, the din of the Cris contrasted economic abundance with the disparities of the capital, old and new traditions, and the vibrancy of street commerce with an increasing bourgeois demand for quiet. In time, peddlers who provided the soundtrack for Paris's narrow streets yielded to modernity, with its taciturn shopkeepers and wide-open boulevards, and the fading songs of the Cris became a dirge for the passing of old ways.
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Decolonizing the Republic
African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar Paris, 1946–1974
Félix F. Germain
Michigan State University Press, 2016
Decolonizing the Republic is a conscientious discussion of the African diaspora in Paris in the post–World War II period. This book is the first to examine the intersection of black activism and the migration of Caribbeans and Africans to Paris during this era and, as Patrick Manning notes in the foreword, successfully shows how “black Parisians—in their daily labors, weekend celebrations, and periodic protests—opened the way to ‘decolonizing the Republic,’ advancing the respect for their rights as citizens.” Contrasted to earlier works focusing on the black intellectual elite, Decolonizing the Republic maps the formation of a working-class black France. Readers will better comprehend how those peoples of African descent who settled in France and fought to improve their socioeconomic conditions changed the French perception of Caribbean and African identity, laying the foundation for contemporary black activists to deploy a new politics of social inclusion across the demographics of race, class, gender, and nationality. This book complicates conventional understandings of decolonization, and in doing so opens a new and much-needed chapter in the history of the black Atlantic.
 
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Eating the Enlightenment
Food and the Sciences in Paris, 1670-1760
E. C. Spary
University of Chicago Press, 2012
Eating the Enlightenment offers a new perspective on the history of food, looking at writings about cuisine, diet, and food chemistry as a key to larger debates over the state of the nation in Old Regime France. Embracing a wide range of authors and scientific or medical practitioners—from physicians and poets to philosophes and playwrights—E. C. Spary demonstrates how public discussions of eating and drinking were used to articulate concerns about the state of civilization versus that of nature, about the effects of consumption upon the identities of individuals and nations, and about the proper form and practice of scholarship. En route, Spary devotes extensive attention to the manufacture, trade, and eating of foods, focusing upon coffee and liqueurs in particular, and also considers controversies over specific issues such as the chemistry of digestion and the nature of alcohol. Familiar figures such as Fontenelle, Diderot, and Rousseau appear alongside little-known individuals from the margins of the world of letters: the draughts-playing café owner Charles Manoury, the “Turkish envoy” Soliman Aga, and the natural philosopher Jacques Gautier d’Agoty. Equally entertaining and enlightening, Eating the Enlightenment will be an original contribution to discussions of the dissemination of knowledge and the nature of scientific authority.
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The Emergence of Social Space
Rimbaud and the Paris Commune
Kristin RossForeword by Terry Eagleton
University of Minnesota Press, 1989
The 1870s in France - Rimbaud’s moment, and the subject of this book - is a decade virtually ignored in most standard histories of France. Yet it was the moment of two significant spatial events: France’s expansion on a global scale, and, in the spring of 1871, the brief existence of the Paris Commune - the construction of revolutionary urban space. Arguing that space, as a social fact, is always political and strategic, Kristen Ross has written a book that is at once history and geography of the Commune’s anarchist culture - its political language and social relations, its values, strategies, and stances.

Central to her analysis of the Commune as social space and oppositional culture is a close textual reading of Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry. His poems - a common thread running through the book - are one set of documents among many in Ross’s recreation of the Communard experience. Rimbaud, Paul Lafargue, and the social geographer Elisee Reclus serve as emblematic figures moving within and on the periphery of the Commune; in their resistance to the logic and economy of a capitalist conception of work, in their challenge to work itself as a term of identity, all three posed a threat to the existing order. Ross looks at these and other emancipator notions as aspects of Communard life, each with an analogous strategy in Rimbaud’s poetry. Applying contemporary theory to a wealth of little-known archival material, she has written a fresh, persuasive, and original book.

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Fatal Isolation
The Devastating Paris Heat Wave of 2003
Richard C. Keller
University of Chicago Press, 2015
In a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Paris lie the bodies of nearly a hundred of what some have called the first casualties of global climate change. They were the so-called abandoned victims of the worst natural disaster in French history, the devastating heat wave that struck in August 2003, leaving 15,000 dead. They died alone in Paris and its suburbs, and were then buried at public expense, their bodies unclaimed. They died, and to a great extent lived, unnoticed by their neighbors--their bodies undiscovered in some cases until weeks after their deaths.

Fatal Isolation tells the stories of these victims and the catastrophe that took their lives. It explores the multiple narratives of disaster--the official story of the crisis and its aftermath, as presented by the media and the state; the life stories of the individual victims, which both illuminate and challenge the ways we typically perceive natural disasters; and the scientific understandings of disaster and its management. Fatal Isolation is both a social history of risk and vulnerability in the urban landscape and a story of how a city copes with emerging threats and sudden, dramatic change.
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Filth
Dirt, Digust, and Modern Life
William A. Cohen
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
From floating barges of urban refuse to dung-encrusted works of art, from toxic landfills to dirty movies, filth has become a major presence and a point of volatile contention in modern life. This book explores the question of what filth has to do with culture: what critical role the lost, the rejected, the abject, and the dirty play in social management and identity formation. It suggests the ongoing power of culturally mandated categories of exclusion and repression.Focusing on filth in literary and cultural materials from London, Paris, and their colonial outposts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the essays in Filth, all but one previously unpublished, range over topics as diverse as the building of sewers in nineteenth-century European metropolises, the link between interior design and bourgeois sanitary phobias, fictional representations of laboring women and foreigners as polluting, and relations among disease, disorder, and sexual-racial disharmony. Filth provides the first sustained consideration, both theoretical and historical, of a subject whose power to horrify, fascinate, and repel is as old as civilization itself.Contributors: David S. Barnes, U of Pennsylvania; Neil Blackadder, Knox College; Joseph Bristow, U of California, Los Angeles; Joseph W. Childers, U of California, Riverside; Eileen Cleere, Southwestern U; Natalka Freeland, U of California, Irvine; Pamela K. Gilbert, U of Florida; Christopher Hamlin, U of Notre Dame; William Kupinse, U of Puget Sound; Benjamin Lazier, U of Chicago; David L. Pike, American U; David Trotter, U of Cambridge.William A. Cohen is associate professor of English at the University of Maryland and the author of Sex Scandal: The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction.Ryan Johnson is completing his Ph.D. in the Department of English at Stanford University, where he has served as general editor of the Stanford Humanities Review.
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Finding Dora Maar
An Artist, an Address Book, a Life
Brigitte Benkemoun
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2020

“[A] spirited and deeply researched project…. [Benkemoun’s] affection for her subject is infectious. This book gives a satisfying treatment to a woman who has been confined for decades to a Cubist’s limited interpretation.” — Joumana Khatib, The New York Times

Merging biography, memoir, and cultural history, this compelling book, a bestseller in France, traces the life of Dora Maar through a serendipitous encounter with the artist’s address book.

In search of a replacement for his lost Hermès agenda, Brigitte Benkemoun’s husband buys a vintage diary on eBay. When it arrives, she opens it and finds inside private notes dating back to 1951—twenty pages of phone numbers and addresses for Balthus, Brassaï, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Paul Éluard, Leonor Fini, Jacqueline Lamba, and other artistic luminaries of the European avant-garde.

After realizing that the address book belonged to Dora Maar—Picasso’s famous “Weeping Woman” and a brilliant artist in her own right—Benkemoun embarks on a two-year voyage of discovery to learn more about this provocative, passionate, and enigmatic woman, and the role that each of these figures played in her life.

Longlisted for the prestigious literary award Prix Renaudot, Finding Dora Maar is a fascinating and breathtaking portrait of the artist.


This work received support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States through their publishing assistance program.
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Fragile Lives
Violence, Power, and Solidarity in Eighteenth-Century Paris
Arlette Farge
Harvard University Press, 1993

The rich and complex texture of working-class neighborhoods in eighteenth-century Paris comes vibrantly alive in this collage of the experiences of ordinary people—men and women, rich and poor, masters and servants, neighbors and colleagues. Exploring three arenas of conflict and solidarity—the home, the workplace, and the street—Arlette Farge offers the reader an intimate social history, bringing long-dead citizens and vanished social groups back to life with sensitivity and perception.

Fragile Lives reconstructs the rhythms of this population's daily existence, the way they met, formed relationships and broke them off, conducted their affairs in the community, and raised their young. Farge follows them into the factory and describes the ways they organized to improve their working conditions, and how they were controlled by the authorities. She shows how these Parisians behaved in the context of collective events, from festive street spectacles to repressive displays of power by the police. As the author examines interwoven lives as revealed in judicial records, we come to know and understand the criminals and the underworld of the time; the situation of women as lovers, wives, or prostitutes; anxieties about food and drink, and the rules of conduct in a “fragile” society. Elegantly written and skillfully translated, Fragile Lives is a book for the curious general reader and for those interested in social and cultural history.

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Free as Gods
How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism
Charles A. Riley
University Press of New England, 2017
Among many art, music and literature lovers, particularly devotees of modernism, the expatriate community in France during the Jazz Age represents a remarkable convergence of genius in one place and period—one of the most glorious in history. Drawn by the presence of such avant-garde figures as Joyce and Picasso, artists and writers fled the Prohibition in the United States and revolution in Russia to head for the free-wheeling scene in Paris, where they made contact with rivals, collaborators, and a sophisticated audience of collectors and patrons. The outpouring of boundary-pushing novels, paintings, ballets, music, and design was so profuse that it belies the brevity of the era (1918–1929). Drawing on unpublished albums, drawings, paintings, and manuscripts, Charles A. Riley offers a fresh examination of both canonic and overlooked writers and artists and their works, by revealing them in conversation with one another. He illuminates social interconnections and artistic collaborations among the most famous—Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gershwin, Diaghilev, and Picasso—and goes a step further, setting their work alongside that of African Americans such as Sidney Bechet, Archibald Motley Jr., and Langston Hughes, and women such as Gertrude Stein and Nancy Cunard. Riley’s biographical and interpretive celebration of the many masterpieces of this remarkable group shows how the creative community of postwar Paris supported astounding experiments in content and form that still resonate today.
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From Appomattox to Montmartre
Americans and the Paris Commune
Philip M. Katz
Harvard University Press, 1998

The American Civil War and the Paris Commune of 1871, Philip Katz argues, were part of the broader sweep of transatlantic development in the mid-nineteenth century--an age of democratic civil wars. Katz shows how American political culture in the period that followed the Paris Commune was shaped by that event.

The telegraph, the new Atlantic cable, and the news-gathering experience gained in the Civil War transformed the Paris Commune into an American national event. News from Europe arrived in fragments, however, and was rarely cohesive and often contradictory. Americans were forced to assimilate the foreign events into familiar domestic patterns, most notably the Civil War. Two ways of Americanizing the Commune emerged: descriptive (recasting events in American terms in order to better understand them) and predictive (preoccupation with whether Parisian unrest might reproduce itself in the United States).

By 1877, the Commune became a symbol for the domestic labor unrest that culminated in the Great Railroad Strike of that year. As more powerful local models of social unrest emerged, however, the Commune slowly disappeared as an active force in American culture.

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The German Officer’s Boy
Harlan Greene
University of Wisconsin Press, 2005
What really happened that afternoon in November 1938, when a young Polish Jew walked into the German embassy in Paris and shots rang out? The immediate consequence was concrete: Nazis retaliated with Kristallnacht—“Night of Broken Glass”—the beginning of the Holocaust. Lost in the aftermath is the story of Herschel Grynszpan, the confused teenager whose murder of Ernst vom Rath was used to justify Kristallnacht.
    In this historical novel, award-winning writer Harlan Greene takes Grynszpan at his word. Historians have tried to explain away the claim that he was involved in a love affair with vom Rath; Greene, instead, depicts the lives of the underprivileged and persecuted Grynszpan and the wealthy German diplomat vom Rath as they move inevitably toward their ill-fated affair.
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Glenway Wescott Personally
A Biography
Jerry Rosco
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

As a writer, Glenway Wescott (1901–1987) left behind several novels, including The Grandmothers and The Pilgrim Hawk, noted for their remarkable lyricism. As a literary figure, Wescott also became a symbol of his times. Born on a Wisconsin farm in 1901, he associated as a young writer with Hemingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald in 1920s Paris and subsequently was a central figure in New York’s artistic and gay communities. Though he couldn’t finish a novel after the age of forty-five, he was just as famous as an arts impresario, as a diarist, and for the company he kept: W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Marianne Moore, Somerset Maugham, E. M. Forster, Joseph Campbell, and scores of other luminaries.
     In Glenway Wescott Personally, Jerry Rosco chronicles Wescott’s long and colorful life, his early fame and later struggles to write, the uniquely privileged and sometimes tortured world of artistic creation. Rosco sensitively and insightfully reveals Wescott’s private life, his long relationship with Museum of Modern Art curator Monroe Wheeler, his work with sex researcher Alfred Kinsey that led to breakthrough findings on homosexuality, and his kinship with such influential artists as Jean Cocteau, George Platt-Lynes, and Paul Cadmus.

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The Heroic City
Paris, 1945-1958
Rosemary Wakeman
University of Chicago Press, 2009

The Heroic City is a sparkling account of the fate of Paris’s public spaces in the years following Nazi occupation and joyful liberation. Countering the traditional narrative that Paris’s public landscape became sterile and dehumanized in the 1940s and ’50s, Rosemary Wakeman instead finds that the city’s streets overflowed with ritual, drama, and spectacle. With frequent strikes and protests, young people and students on parade, North Africans arriving in the capital of the French empire, and radio and television shows broadcast live from the streets, Paris continued to be vital terrain.

Wakeman analyzes the public life of the city from a variety of perspectives. A reemergence of traditional customs led to the return of festivals, street dances, and fun fairs, while violent protests and political marches, the housing crisis, and the struggle over decolonization signaled the political realities of postwar France. The work of urban planners and architects, the output of filmmakers and intellectuals, and the day-to-day experiences of residents from all walks of life come together in this vibrant portrait of a flamboyant and transformative moment in the life of the City of Light.

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Illuminated Paris
Essays on Art and Lighting in the Belle Époque
Hollis Clayson
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The City of Light. For many, these four words instantly conjure late nineteenth-century Paris and the garish colors of Toulouse-Lautrec’s iconic posters. More recently, the Eiffel Tower’s nightly show of sparkling electric lights has come to exemplify our fantasies of Parisian nightlife. Though we reflect longingly on such scenes, in Illuminated Paris, Hollis Clayson shows that there’s more to these clichés than meets the eye. In this richly illustrated book, she traces the dramatic evolution of lighting in Paris and how artists responded to the shifting visual and cultural scenes that resulted from these technologies. While older gas lighting produced a haze of orange, new electric lighting was hardly an improvement: the glare of experimental arc lights—themselves dangerous—left figures looking pale and ghoulish. As Clayson shows, artists’ representations of these new colors and shapes reveal turn-of-the-century concerns about modernization as electric lighting came to represent the harsh glare of rapidly accelerating social change. At the same time, in part thanks to American artists visiting the city, these works of art also produced our enduring romantic view of Parisian glamour and its Belle Époque.
 
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Insurgent Identities
Class, Community, and Protest in Paris from 1848 to the Commune
Roger V. Gould
University of Chicago Press, 1995
In this important contribution both to the study of social protest and to French social history, Roger Gould breaks with previous accounts that portray the Paris Commune of 1871 as a continuation of the class struggles of the 1848 Revolution. Focusing on the collective identities framing conflict during these two upheavals and in the intervening period, Gould reveals that while class played a pivotal role in 1848, it was neighborhood solidarity that was the decisive organizing force in 1871.

The difference was due to Baron Haussmann's massive urban renovation projects between 1852 and 1868, which dispersed workers from Paris's center to newly annexed districts on the outskirts of the city. In these areas, residence rather than occupation structured social relations. Drawing on evidence from trail documents, marriage records, reports of police spies, and the popular press, Gould demonstrates that this fundamental rearrangement in the patterns of social life made possible a neighborhood insurgent movement; whereas the insurgents of 1848 fought and died in defense of their status as workers, those in 1871 did so as members of a besieged urban community.

A valuable resource for historians and scholars of social movements, this work shows that collective identities vary with political circumstances but are nevertheless constrained by social networks. Gould extends this argument to make sense of other protest movements and to offer predictions about the dimensions of future social conflict.

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The Invention of the Restaurant
Rebecca L. Spang
Harvard University Press, 2019

Winner of the Louis Gottschalk Prize
Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize


“Witty and full of fascinating details.”
Los Angeles Times


Why are there restaurants? Why would anybody consider eating alongside perfect strangers in a loud and crowded room to be an enjoyable pastime? To find the answer, Rebecca Spang takes us back to France in the eighteenth century, when a restaurant was not a place to eat but a quasi-medicinal bouillon not unlike the bone broths of today.

This is a book about the French revolution in taste—about how Parisians invented the modern culture of food, changing the social life of the world in the process. We see how over the course of the Revolution, restaurants that had begun as purveyors of health food became symbols of aristocratic greed. In the early nineteenth century, the new genre of gastronomic literature worked within the strictures of the Napoleonic state to transform restaurants yet again, this time conferring star status upon oysters and champagne.

“An ambitious, thought-changing book…Rich in weird data, unsung heroes, and bizarre true stories.”
—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

“[A] pleasingly spiced history of the restaurant.”
New York Times

“A lively, engrossing, authoritative account of how the restaurant as we know it developed…Spang is…as generous in her helpings of historical detail as any glutton could wish.”
The Times

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Le Corbusier
The City of Refuge, Paris 1929/33
Brian Brace Taylor
University of Chicago Press, 1988
The City of Refuge complex—commissioned by the Salvation Army as part of its program to transform social outcasts into spiritually renewed workers—represents a significant confluence of design principles, technological experiments, and attitudes on reform. It also provides rare insights into the work of one of the twentieth century's greatest architects, Le Corbusier.

Brian Brace Taylor draws on extensive archival research to reconstruct each step of the architect's attraction to the commission, his design process and technological innovations, the social and philosophical compatibility of the Salvation Army with Le Corbusier's own ideas for urban planning, and finally, the many modifications required, first to eliminate defects and later to accommodate changes in the services the building provided. Throughout, Taylor focuses on Le Corbusier's environmental, technological, and social intentions as opposed to his strictly formal intentions. He shows that the City of Refuge became primarily a laboratory for the architect's own research and not simply a conventional solution to residents' requirements or the Salvation Army's program.
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The Left Bank
Writers, Artists, and Politics from the Popular Front to the Cold War
Herbert Lottman
University of Chicago Press, 1998
This story begins in the Paris of the 1930s, when artists and writers stood at the center of the world stage. In the decade that saw the rise of the Nazis, much of the thinking world sought guidance from this extraordinary group of intellectuals. Herbert Lottman's chronicle follows the influential players—Gide, Malraux, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Koestler, Camus, and their pro-Fascist counterparts—through the German occupation, Liberation, and into the Cold War, when the struggle between superpowers all but drowned out their voices.

"Surprisingly fresh and intense. . . . A retrospective travelogue of the Left Bank in the days when it was the setting for almost all French intellectual activity. . . . Absorbing."—Naomi Bliven, New Yorker

"As an introduction to a period in French history already legendary, The Left Bank is superb."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

"An intellectual history. A history of the interaction between politics and letters. And a rumination on the limitless credulity of intellectuals."—Christopher Hitchens, New Statesman


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Literature and Revolution
British Responses to the Paris Commune of 1871
Owen Holland
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Between March and May 1871, the Parisian Communards fought for a revolutionary alternative to the status quo grounded in a vision of internationalism, radical democracy and economic justice for the working masses that cut across national borders. The eventual defeat and bloody suppression of the Commune resonated far beyond Paris. In Britain, the Commune provoked widespread and fierce condemnation, while its defenders constituted a small, but vocal, minority. The Commune evoked long-standing fears about the continental ‘spectre’ of revolution, not least because the Communards’ seizure of power represented an embryonic alternative to the bourgeois social order.

This book examines how a heterogeneous group of authors in Britain responded to the Commune. In doing so, it provides the first full-length critical study of the reception and representation of the Commune in Britain during the closing decades of the nineteenth century, showing how discussions of the Commune functioned as a screen to project hope and fear, serving as a warning for some and an example to others. Writers considered in the book include John Ruskin, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Eliza Lynn Linton, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Margaret Oliphant, George Gissing, Henry James, William Morris, Alfred Austin and H.G. Wells. As the book shows, many, but not all, of these writers responded to the Commune with literary strategies that sought to stabilize bourgeois subjectivity in the wake of the traumatic shock of a revolutionary event. The book extends critical understanding of the Commune’s cultural afterlives and explores the relationship between literature and revolution.
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Louis Sébastien Mercier
Revolution and Reform in Eighteenth-Century Paris
Michael J. Mulryan
Bucknell University Press, 2023
French playwright, novelist, activist, and journalist Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740–1814) passionately captured scenes of social injustice in pre-Revolutionary Paris in his prolific oeuvre but today remains an understudied writer. In this penetrating study—the first in English devoted to Mercier in decades—Michael Mulryan explores his unpublished writings and urban chronicles, Tableau de Paris (1781–88) and Le Nouveau Paris (1798), in which he identified the city as a microcosm of national societal problems, detailed the conditions of the laboring poor, encouraged educational reform, and confronted universal social ills. Mercier’s rich writings speak powerfully to the sociopolitical problems that continue to afflict us as political leaders manipulate public debate and encourage absolutist thinking, deepening social divides. An outcast for his polemical views during his lifetime, Mercier has been called the founder of modern urban discourse, and his work a precursor to investigative journalism. This sensitive study returns him to his rightful place among Enlightenment thinkers.
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Making Jazz French
Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris
Jeffrey H. Jackson
Duke University Press, 2003
Between the world wars, Paris welcomed not only a number of glamorous American expatriates, including Josephine Baker and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also a dynamic musical style emerging in the United States: jazz. Roaring through cabarets, music halls, and dance clubs, the upbeat, syncopated rhythms of jazz soon added to the allure of Paris as a center of international nightlife and cutting-edge modern culture. In Making Jazz French, Jeffrey H. Jackson examines not only how and why jazz became so widely performed in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s but also why it was so controversial.

Drawing on memoirs, press accounts, and cultural criticism, Jackson uses the history of jazz in Paris to illuminate the challenges confounding French national identity during the interwar years. As he explains, many French people initially regarded jazz as alien because of its associations with America and Africa. Some reveled in its explosive energy and the exoticism of its racial connotations, while others saw it as a dangerous reversal of France’s most cherished notions of "civilization." At the same time, many French musicians, though not threatened by jazz as a musical style, feared their jobs would vanish with the arrival of American performers. By the 1930s, however, a core group of French fans, critics, and musicians had incorporated jazz into the French entertainment tradition. Today it is an integral part of Parisian musical performance. In showing how jazz became French, Jackson reveals some of the ways a musical form created in the United States became an international phenomenon and acquired new meanings unique to the places where it was heard and performed.

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The Making of an Insurrection
Parisian Sections and the Gironde
Morris Slavin
Harvard University Press, 1986

The insurrection of 31 May-2 June 1793 that overthrew the Girondins and brought the Montagnards to power was a decisive event in the history of the French Revolution. Morris Slavin's study is the first that discusses the background, the mechanisms, and the immediate results of the uprising, as well as the hidden forces that produced it and the contradictions that were inherent in it from the beginning.

Slavin's approach to the controversy between the Gironde and the Mountain is from below (d'en bas), from the vantage point of the sections of Paris and their extralegal assembly, the Eveche assembly, and its Comite des Neuf. He shows how and why the Montagnards used the insurrectionary organs created by the sans-culottes for their own purposes, and how the Montagnards won them over against their Girondin enemies by granting the sans-culottes economic concessions, at the same time disarming them politically.

This revelation of the profound differences between the sans-culottes and the Montagnards on the goals of the insurrection is a major contribution to understanding French revolutionary behavior. Slavin finds that the rank and file in the pro-Girondin sections were just as self-sacrificing and just as patriotic as the followers of the Mountain. The dispute between the Girondins and the Montagnards was an intraclass contest, not a class struggle.

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A Menorah for Athena
Charles Reznikoff and the Jewish Dilemmas of Objectivist Poetry
Stephen Fredman
University of Chicago Press, 2001
The first major Jewish poet in America and a key figure of the Objectivist movement, Charles Reznikoff was a crucial link between the generation of Pound and Williams, and the more radical modernists who followed in their wake. A Menorah for Athena, the first extended treatment of Reznikoff's work, appears at a time of renewed interest in his contribution to American poetry.

Stephen Fredman illuminates the relationship of Jewish intellectuals to modernity through a close look at Reznikoff's life and writing. He shows that when we regard the Objectivists as modern Jewish poets, we can see more clearly their distinctiveness as modernists and the reasons for their profound impact upon later poets, such as Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bernstein. Fredman also argues that to understand Reznikoff's work more completely, we must see it in the context of early, nonsectarian attempts to make the study of Jewish culture a force in the construction of a more pluralistic society. According to Fredman, then, the indelible images in Reznikoff's poetry open a window onto the vexed but ultimately successful entry of Jewish immigrants and their children into the mainstream of American intellectual life.
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The Modern Woman Revisited
Paris Between the Wars
Chadwick, Whitney
Rutgers University Press, 2003

The contributions of female artists to the development of literary and artistic modernism in early twentieth century France remain poorly understood. It was during this period that a so-called “modern woman” began occupying urban spaces associated with the development of modern art and modernism’s struggles to define subjectivities and sexualities.  Whereas most studies of modernism’s formal innovations and its encouragement of artistic autonomy neglect or omit necessary discussions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, the contributors of The Modern Woman Revisited inject these perspectives into the discussion. 

Between the two World Wars, Paris served as the setting for unparalleled freedom for expatriate as well as native-born French women, who enjoyed unprecedented access to education and opportunities to participate in public artistic and intellectual life. Many of these women made lasting contributions in art and literature.  Some of the artists discussed include Colette, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Djuna Barnes, Augusta Savage, and Lee Miller.

Inthis book, an internationally recognized roster of art historians, literary critics, and other scholars offers a nuanced portrait of what it meant to be a modern woman during this decisive period of modernism’s development. Individual essays explore the challenges faced by women in the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as the strategies these women deployed to create their art and to build meaningful lives and careers. The introduction underscores the importance of the contributors’ efforts to engender larger questions about modernity, sexuality, race, and class.

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The Mountains of Paris
How Awe and Wonder Rewrote My Life
David Oates
Oregon State University Press, 2019
Living in Paris for a winter and a spring and waking each morning to a view of Notre Dame, David Oates is led to revise his life story from one of trudging and occasional woe into one punctuated by nourishing and sometimes unsettling brilliance. He asks: What is the meaning of this tremendousness?
 
In long years of mountaineering Oates fought the self-loathing that had infused him as the gay kid in the Baptist pew. And in The Mountains of Paris, he ascends to a place of wonder. In luminous prose, Oates invites readers to share a sense of awe—whether awakened by a Vermeer painting or a wilderness sojourn, by the night sky, a loved one, or echoing strains of music—lifting the curtain on a cosmos filled with a terrifying yet beautiful rightness.
 
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New York-Paris
Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City
Laure Katsaros
University of Michigan Press, 2012

As New York and Paris began to modernize, new modes of entertainment, such as panoramas, dioramas, and photography, seemed poised to take the place of the more complex forms of literary expression. Dioramas and photography were invented in Paris but soon spread to America, forming part of an increasingly universal idiom of the spectacle. This brave new world of technologically advanced but crudely mimetic spectacles haunts both Whitman's vision of New York and Baudelaire's view of Paris. In New York-Paris, Katsaros explores the images of the mid-nineteenth-century city in the poetry of both Whitman and Baudelaire and seeks to demonstrate that, by projecting an image of the other's city onto his own, each poet tried to resist the apparently irresistible forward momentum of modernity rather than create a paradigmatically happy mixture of "high" and "low" culture.

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Night Roads
A Novel
Gaito Gazdanov
Northwestern University Press, 2009

Drawing together episodes of rich atmosphere, this novel is as deep and brooding as the Paris nights that serve as its backdrop. Russian writer Gaito Gazdanov arrived in Paris, as so many did, between the wars and would go on, with this fourth novel, to give readers a crisp rendering of a living city changing beneath its people’s feet. Night Roads is loosely based on the author’s experiences as a cab driver in those disorienting, often brutal years, and the narrator moves from episode to episode, holding court with many but sharing his mind with only a few. His companions are drawn straight out of the Parisian past: the legendary courtesan Jeanne Raldi, now in her later days, and an alcoholic philosopher who goes by the name of Plato. Along the way, the driver picks up other characters, such as the dull thinker who takes on the question of the meaning of life only to be driven insane. The dark humor of that young man’s failure against the narrator’s authentic, personal explorations of the same subject is captured in this first English translation. With his trademark émigré eye, Gazdanov pairs humor with cruelty, sharpening the bite of both.

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The Nightinghouls of Paris
Robert McAlmon. Edited and with an Introduction by Sanford J. Smoller
University of Illinois Press, 2006

The Nightinghouls of Paris is a thinly fictionalized memoir of the darker side of expatriate life in Paris. Beginning in 1928, the story follows the changes undergone by Canadian youths John Glassco and his friend Graeme Taylor during their (mis)adventures in Paris while trying to become writers. There they meet Robert McAlmon, who guides them through the city’s cafes, bistros, and nightclubs, where they find writers and artists including Kay Boyle (with whom Glassco has a fling), Bill Bird, Djuna Barnes, Claude McKay, Hilaire Hiler, Peggy Guggenheim, and Ernest Hemingway.

Fleeing France in late 1940, Robert McAlmon lost his notebook manuscripts and drafted 
The Nightinghouls of Paris
from memory. Till now, it has existed solely as a typescript held by Yale University. Unlike most memoirs of American expatriates in the ‘20s, The Nightinghouls of Paris centers not only on writers, but also encompasses the racial, national, and social mélange they encountered in everyday life.    
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Nights in the Big City
Paris, Berlin, London 1840-1930
Joachim Schlör
Reaktion Books, 1998
This elegantly written book describes the changes in the perception and experience of the night in three great European cities: Paris, Berlin and London. The lighting up of the European city by gas and electricity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought about a new relationship with the night, in respect of both work and pleasure. Nights in the Big City explores this new awareness of the city in all its ramifications.

Joachim Schlör has spent his days sifting through countless police and church archives, and first-hand accounts, and his nights exploring the highways and byways of these three great capitals. Illustrated with haunting and evocative photographs by, among others, Brandt and Kertész, and filled with contemporary literary references, Nights in the Big City has already been acclaimed in the German press as a milestone in the cultural history of the city.

"[Schlör] is erudite, and his literary style is alluring."—Architect's Journal
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Paris
Patrice Higonnet
Harvard University Press, 2002

In an original and evocative journey through modern Paris from the mid-eighteenth century to World War II, Patrice Higonnet offers a delightful cultural portrait of a multifaceted, continually changing city. In examining the myths and countermyths of Paris that have been created and re-created over time, Higonnet reveals a magical urban alchemy in which each era absorbs the myths and perceptions of Paris past, adapts them to the cultural imperatives of its own time, and feeds them back into the city, creating a new environment.

Paris was central to the modern world in ways internal and external, genuine and imagined, progressive and decadent. Higonnet explores Paris as the capital of revolution, science, empire, literature, and art, describing such incarnations as Belle Epoque Paris, the Commune, the surrealists' city, and Paris as viewed through American eyes. He also evokes the more visceral Paris of alienation, crime, material excess, and sensual pleasure.

Insightful, informative, and gracefully written, Paris illuminates the intersection of collective and individual imaginations in a perpetually shifting urban dynamic. In describing his Paris of the real and of the imagination, Higonnet sheds brilliant new light on this endlessly intriguing city.

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Paris at War
1939–1944
David Drake
Harvard University Press, 2015

Paris at War chronicles the lives of ordinary Parisians during World War II, from September 1939 when France went to war with Nazi Germany to liberation in August 1944. Readers will relive the fearful exodus from the city as the German army neared the capital, the relief and disgust felt when the armistice was signed, and the hardships and deprivations under Occupation. David Drake contrasts the plight of working-class Parisians with the comparative comfort of the rich, exposes the activities of collaborationists, and traces the growth of the Resistance from producing leaflets to gunning down German soldiers. He details the intrigues and brutality of the occupying forces, and life in the notorious transit camp at nearby Drancy, along with three other less well known Jewish work camps within the city.

The book gains its vitality from the diaries and reminiscences of people who endured these tumultuous years. Drake’s cast of characters comes from all walks of life and represents a diversity of political views and social attitudes. We hear from a retired schoolteacher, a celebrated economist, a Catholic teenager who wears a yellow star in solidarity with Parisian Jews, as well as Resistance fighters, collaborators, and many other witnesses.

Drake enriches his account with details from police records, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and newsreels. From his chronology emerge the broad rhythms and shifting moods of the city. Above all, he explores the contingent lives of the people of Paris, who, unlike us, co­uld not know how the story would end.

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The Paris Commune
A Brief History
Carolyn J. Eichner
Rutgers University Press, 2022
At dawn on March 18, 1871, Parisian women stepped between cannons and French soldiers, using their bodies to block the army from taking the artillery from their working-class neighborhood. When ordered to fire, the troops refused and instead turned and arrested their leaders. Thus began the Paris Commune, France’s revolutionary civil war that rocked the nineteenth century and shaped the twentieth.  Considered a golden moment of hope and potential by the left, and a black hour of terrifying power inversions by the right, the Commune occupies a critical position in understanding modern history and politics. A 72-day conflict that ended with the ferocious slaughter of Parisians, the Commune represents for some the final insurgent burst of the French Revolution’s long wake, for others the first “successful” socialist uprising, and for yet others an archetype for egalitarian socio-economic, feminist, and political change. Militants have referenced and incorporated its ideas into insurrections across the globe, throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries, keeping alive the revolution’s now-iconic goals and images.  Innumerable scholars in countless languages have examined aspects of the 1871 uprising, taking perspectives ranging from glorifying to damning this world-shaking event.  The Commune stands as a critical and pivotal moment in nineteenth-century history, as the linchpin between revolutionary pasts and futures, and as the crucible allowing glimpses of alternate possibilities.  Upending hierarchies of class, religion, and gender, the Commune emerged as a touchstone for the subsequent century-and-a-half of revolutionary and radical social movements.
 
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Paris from the Ground Up
James H. S. McGregor
Harvard University Press, 2010

Paris is the most personal of cities. There is a Paris for the medievalist, and another for the modernist—a Paris for expatriates, philosophers, artists, romantics, and revolutionaries of every stripe. James H. S. McGregor brings these multiple perspectives into focus throughout this concise, unique history of the City of Light.

His panorama begins with an ancient Gallic fortress on the Seine, burned to the ground by its own defenders in a vain effort to starve out Caesar’s legions. After ninth-century raids by the Vikings ended, Parisians expanded the walls of their tiny sanctuary on the Ile de la Cité, turning the river’s right bank into a thriving commercial district and the Rive Gauche into a college town. Gothic spires expressed a taste for architectural novelty, matched only by the palaces and pleasure gardens of successive monarchs whose ingenuity made Paris the epitome of everything French. The fires of Revolution threatened all that had come before, but Baron Haussmann saw opportunity in the wreckage. No planned city in the world is more famous than his.

Paris from the Ground Up allows readers to trace the city’s evolution in its architecture and art—from the Roman arena to the Musée d’Orsay, from the Louvre’s defensive foundations to I. M. Pei’s transparent pyramids. Color maps, along with identifying illustrations, make the city accessible to visitors by foot, Metro, or riverboat.

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Paris in Despair
Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-1871)
Hollis Clayson
University of Chicago Press, 2002
The siege of Paris by Prussians in the fall and winter of 1870 and 1871 turned the city upside down, radically altering its appearance, social structure, and mood. As Hollis Clayson demonstrates in Paris in Despair, the siege took an especially heavy toll on the city's artists, forcing them out of the spaces and routines of their insular prewar lives and thrusting them onto the ramparts (as many became soldiers).

But the crisis did not halt artistic production, as some have suggested. In fact, Clayson argues that the siege actually encouraged innovation, fostering changed attitudes and new approaches to representation among a wide variety of artists as they made art out of their individual experiences of adversity and change—art that has not previously been considered within the context of the siege. Clayson focuses especially on Rosa Bonheur, Edgar Degas, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière, Edouard Manet, and Henri Regnault, but she also covers a host of other artists, including Ernest Barrias, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Detaille, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Albert Robida, and James Tissot. Paris in Despair includes more than two hundred color and black-and-white images of works by these artists and others, many never before published.

Using the visual arts as an interpretive lens, Clayson illuminates the wide range of issues at play during the siege and thereafter, including questions of political and cultural identity, artistic masculinity and femininity, public versus private space, everyday life and modernity, and gender and class roles in military and civilian society. For anyone concerned with these issues, or with nineteenth-century French art in general, Paris in Despair will be a landmark work.
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Paris in the Dark
Going to the Movies in the City of Light, 1930–1950
Eric Smoodin
Duke University Press, 2020
In Paris in the Dark Eric Smoodin takes readers on a journey through the streets, cinemas, and theaters of Paris to sketch a comprehensive picture of French film culture during the 1930s and 1940s. Drawing on a wealth of journalistic sources, Smoodin recounts the ways films moved through the city, the favored stars, and what it was like to go to the movies in a city with hundreds of cinemas. In a single week in the early 1930s, moviegoers might see Hollywood features like King Kong and Frankenstein, the new Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier movies, and any number of films from Italy, Germany, and Russia. Or they could frequent the city's ciné-clubs, which were hosts to the cinéphile subcultures of Paris. At other times, a night at the movies might result in an evening of fascist violence, even before the German Occupation of Paris, while after the war the city's cinemas formed the space for reconsolidating French film culture. In mapping the cinematic geography of Paris, Smoodin expands understandings of local film exhibition and the relationships of movies to urban space.
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Paris on the Potomac
The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C.
Cynthia R. Field
Ohio University Press, 2007

In 1910 John Merven Carrère, a Paris-trained American architect, wrote, “Learning from Paris made Washington outstanding among American cities.” The five essays in Paris on the Potomac explore aspects of this influence on the artistic and architectural environment of Washington, D.C., which continued long after the well-known contributions of Peter Charles L’Enfant, the transplanted French military officer who designed the city’s plan.

Isabelle Gournay’s introductory essay provides an overview and examines the context and issues involved in three distinct periods of French influence: the classical and Enlightenment principles that prevailed from the 1790s through the 1820s, the Second Empire style of the 1850s through the 1870s, and the Beaux-Arts movement of the early twentieth century. William C. Allen and Thomas P. Somma present two case studies: Allen on the influence of French architecture, especially the Halle aux Blés, on Thomas Jefferson’s vision of the U.S. Capitol; and Somma on David d’Angers’s busts of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Liana Paredes offers a richly detailed examination of French-inspired interior decoration in the homes of Washington’s elite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cynthia R. Field concludes the volume with a consideration of the influence of Paris on city planning in Washington, D.C., including the efforts of the McMillan Commission and the later development of the Federal Triangle complex.

The essays in this collection, the latest addition to the series Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol, originated in a conference held by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society in 2002 at the French Embassy’s Maison Française.

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Parisian Fields
Edited by Michael Sheringham
Reaktion Books, 1997
Perhaps no world city has so many resonances, on so many levels, as Paris. Cafe society, demi-monde, the intellectual life, film-makers and writers... Paris has fragmented socially, sexually, intellectually and linguistically into many fields. Parisian Fields sets out to investigate some of these.

The writers investigate how Paris has been both seen and shaped by tourist guides; how its topography has been represented and allegorized by film-makers like Godard, Clair, Vigo and Renoir; how the city has responded to "new" Parisians – for example Afro-American musicians and dancers such as Josephine Baker – and to previously marginalized Parisians – gays and women.

Literary analysis, film, social and gender theory, perspectives on urbanism; here are many provocative and innovative views of the open field of Paris, which will appeal to anyone interested in French cultural and literary studies – or just in the City of Light herself.

With essays by Roger Clark, Nicholas Hewitt, Jon Kear, Tom Conley, Michael Sheringham, Alex Hughes, Adrian Rifkin, Belinda Jack, Verena Andermatt Conley and Marc Augé.
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Poetry and the Police
Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris
Robert Darnton
Harvard University Press, 2012

Listen to "An Electronic Cabaret: Paris Street Songs, 1748–50" for songs from Poetry and the PoliceAudio recording copyright © 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

In spring 1749, François Bonis, a medical student in Paris, found himself unexpectedly hauled off to the Bastille for distributing an “abominable poem about the king.” So began the Affair of the Fourteen, a police crackdown on ordinary citizens for unauthorized poetry recitals. Why was the official response to these poems so intense?

In this captivating book, Robert Darnton follows the poems as they passed through several media: copied on scraps of paper, dictated from one person to another, memorized and declaimed to an audience. But the most effective dispersal occurred through music, when poems were sung to familiar tunes. Lyrics often referred to current events or revealed popular attitudes toward the royal court. The songs provided a running commentary on public affairs, and Darnton brilliantly traces how the lyrics fit into song cycles that carried messages through the streets of Paris during a period of rising discontent. He uncovers a complex communication network, illuminating the way information circulated in a semi-literate society.

This lucid and entertaining book reminds us of both the importance of oral exchanges in the history of communication and the power of “viral” networks long before our internet age.

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Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture
Dudley Andrew and Steven Ungar
Harvard University Press, 2005

The story of Paris in the 1930s seems straightforward enough, with the Popular Front movement leading toward the inspiring 1936 election of a leftist coalition government. The socialist victory, which resulted in fundamental improvements in the lives of workers, was then derailed in a precipitous descent that culminated in France's capitulation before the Nazis in June 1940. Yet no matter how minutely recounted, this "straight story" clarifies only the political activity behind which turbulent cultural currents brought about far-reaching changes in everyday life and the way it is represented.

In this book, Dudley Andrew and Steven Ungar apply an evocative "poetics of culture" to capture the complex atmospherics of Paris in the 1930s. They highlight the new symbolic forces put in play by technologies of the illustrated press and the sound film—technologies that converged with efforts among writers (Gide, Malraux, Céline), artists (Renoir, Dalí), and other intellectuals (Mounier, de Rougemont, Leiris) to respond to the decade's crises.

Their analysis takes them to expositions and music halls, to upscale architecture and fashion sites, to traditional neighborhoods, and to overseas territories, the latter portrayed in metropolitan exhibits and colonial cinema. Rather than a straight story of the Popular Front, they have produced something closer to the format of an illustrated newspaper whose multiple columns represent the breadth of urban life during this critical decade at the end of the Third French Republic.

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Postcolonial Paris
Fictions of Intimacy in the City of Light
Laila Amine
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
In the global imagination, Paris is the city's glamorous center, ignoring the Muslim residents in its outskirts except in moments of spectacular crisis such as terrorist attacks or riots. But colonial immigrants and their French offspring have been a significant presence in the Parisian landscape since the 1940s. Expanding the narrow script of what and who is Paris, Laila Amine explores the novels, films, and street art of Maghrebis, Franco-Arabs, and African Americans in the City of Light, including fiction by Charef, Chraïbi, Sebbar, Baldwin, Smith, and Wright, and such films as La haine, Made in France, Chouchou, and A Son.

Spanning the decades from the post–World War II era to the present day, Amine demonstrates that the postcolonial other is both peripheral to and intimately entangled with all the ideals so famously evoked by the French capital—romance, modernity, equality, and liberty. In their work, postcolonial writers and artists have juxtaposed these ideals with colonial tropes of intimacy (the interracial couple, the harem, the Arab queer) to expose their hidden violence. Amine highlights the intrusion of race in everyday life in a nation where, officially, it does not exist.
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The Practice of Diaspora
Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
Brent Hayes Edwards
Harvard University Press, 2003

A pathbreaking work of scholarship that will reshape our understanding of the Harlem Renaissance, The Practice of Diaspora revisits black transnational culture in the 1920s and 1930s, paying particular attention to links between intellectuals in New York and their Francophone counterparts in Paris. Brent Edwards suggests that diaspora is less a historical condition than a set of practices: the claims, correspondences, and collaborations through which black intellectuals pursue a variety of international alliances.

Edwards elucidates the workings of diaspora by tracking the wealth of black transnational print culture between the world wars, exploring the connections and exchanges among New York–based publications (such as Opportunity, The Negro World, and The Crisis) and newspapers in Paris (such as Les Continents, La Voix des Nègres, and L'Etudiant noir). In reading a remarkably diverse archive--the works of writers and editors from Langston Hughes, René Maran, and Claude McKay to Paulette Nardal, Alain Locke, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Padmore, and Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté--The Practice of Diaspora takes account of the highly divergent ways of imagining race beyond the barriers of nation and language. In doing so, it reveals the importance of translation, arguing that the politics of diaspora are legible above all in efforts at negotiating difference among populations of African descent throughout the world.

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Priceless Markets
The Political Economy of Credit in Paris, 1660-1870
Philip T. Hoffman, Gilles Postel-Vinay, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
University of Chicago Press, 2000
This pathbreaking book shows how credit markets functioned in Paris, through the agency of notaries, during a critical period of French history. Its authors challenge the usual assumption that organized financial markets—and hence the opportunity for economic growth—did not emerge outside of England and the Netherlands until the nineteenth century. Drawing on innovative research, the authors show that as early as the Old Regime, financial intermediaries in France were mobilizing a great tide of capital and arranging thousands of loans between borrowers and lenders.

The implications for historians and economists are substantial. The role of notaries operating in Paris that Priceless Markets uncovers has never before been recognized. In the wake of this pathbreaking new study, historians will also have to rethink the origins of the French Revolution. As the authors show, the crisis of 1787-88 did not simply ignite revolt; it was intimately bound up in an economic struggle that reached far back into the eighteenth century, and continued well into the 1800s.
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Public City/Public Sex
Homosexuality, Prostitution, and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris
Andrew Israel Ross
Temple University Press, 2019

In the 1800s, urban development efforts modernized Paris and encouraged the creation of brothels, boulevards, cafés, dancehalls, and even public urinals. However, complaints also arose regarding an apparent increase in public sexual activity, and the appearance of “individuals of both sexes with depraved morals” in these spaces. Andrew Israel Ross’s illuminating study, Public City/Public Sex, chronicles the tension between the embourgeoisement and democratization of urban culture in nineteenth-century Paris and the commercialization and commodification of a public sexual culture, the emergence of new sex districts, as well as the development of gay and lesbian subcultures. 

Public City/Public Sex examines how the notion that male sexual desire required suitable outlets shaped urban policing and development. Ross traces the struggle to control sex in public and argues that it was the very effort to police the city that created new opportunities for women who sold sex and men who sought sex with other men. Placing public sex at the center of urban history, Ross shows how those who used public spaces played a central role in defining the way the city was understood.

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A Publisher's Paradise
Expatriate Literary Culture in Paris, 1890-1960
Colette Colligan
University of Massachusetts Press, 2013
From 1890 to 1960, some of Anglo-America's most heated cultural contests over books, sex, and censorship were staged not at home, but abroad in the City of Light. Paris, with its extraordinary liberties of expression, became a special place for interrogating the margins of sexual culture and literary censorship, and a wide variety of English language "dirty books" circulated through loose expatriate publishing and distribution networks.

A Publisher's Paradise explores the political and literary dynamics that gave rise to this expatriate cultural flourishing, which included everything from Victorian pornography to the most daring and controversial modernist classics. Colette Colligan tracks the British and French politicians and diplomats who policed Paris editions of banned books and uncovers offshore networks of publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. She looks closely at the stories the "dirty books" told about this publishing haven and the smut peddlers and literary giants it brought together in transnational cultural formations. The book profiles an eclectic group of expatriates living and publishing in Paris, from relatively obscure figures such as Charles Carrington, whose list included both The Picture of Dorian Gray and the pornographic novel Randiana, to bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, famous for publishing James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922.

A Publisher's Paradise is a compelling exploration of the little-known history of foreign pornography in Paris and the central role it played in turning the city into a modernist outpost for literary and sexual vanguardism, a reputation that still lingers today in our cultural myths of midnight in Paris.
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Red Virgin
Memoirs Of Louise Michel
Louise Michel, edited and translated by Bullitt Lowry and Elizabeth Gunter
University of Alabama Press, 1981
Louise Michel was born illegitimate in 1830 and became a schoolmistress in Paris. She was involved in radical activities during the twilight of France’s Second Empire, and during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the siege of Paris. She was a leading member of the revolutionary groups controlling Montmarte. Michel emerged as one of the leaders of the insurrection during the Paris Commune of March-May 1871; and French anarchists saw her as martyr and saint – The Red Virgin. When the Versailles government crushed the Commune in May 1871, Michel was sentenced to exile in New Caledonia, until the general amnesty of 1880, when she returned to France and great popular acclaim and support from the working people of the country. Michel was arrested again during a demonstration in Paris in 1883 and sentenced to six years in prison. Pardoned after three years, she continued her speeches and writing, although she spent the greater part of her time from 1890 until her death in 1905 in England in self-imposed exile. It was during her prison term from 1883 to 1886 that she compiled her Memoires, now available in English.
            These memoirs offer readers a view of the non-Marxist left and give an in-depth look into the development of the revolutionary spirit. The early chapters treat her childhood, the development of her revolutionary feelings, and her training as a schoolteacher. The next section describes her activities as a schoolteacher in the Haute-Marne and Paris and therefore contains much of interest on education in 19th-century Europe. Her chapters on the siege of Paris, the Commune, and her first trial show those events from the point of view of a major participant. Of particular interest is a chapter on women’s rights, which Michel saw as part of the search for the rights of all people, male and female, and not as a separate struggle.
            The Red Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel will be useful to both scholars and students of 19th-century French history and women’s studies.
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Selling Paris
Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siècle Capital
Alexia M. Yates
Harvard University Press, 2015

In 1871 Paris was a city in crisis. Besieged during the Franco-Prussian War, its buildings and boulevards were damaged, its finances mired in debt, and its new government untested. But if Parisian authorities balked at the challenges facing them, entrepreneurs and businessmen did not. Selling Paris chronicles the people, practices, and politics that spurred the largest building boom of the nineteenth century, turning city-making into big business in the French capital.

Alexia Yates traces the emergence of a commercial Parisian housing market, as private property owners, architects, speculative developers, and credit-lending institutions combined to finance, build, and sell apartments and buildings. Real estate agents and their innovative advertising strategies fed these new residential spaces into a burgeoning marketplace. Corporations built empires with tens of thousands of apartments under management for the benefit of shareholders. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Parisian housing market caught the attention of the wider public as newspapers began reporting its ups and downs.

The forces that underwrote Paris’s creation as the quintessentially modern metropolis were not only state-centered or state-directed but also grew out of the uncoordinated efforts of private actors and networks. Revealing the ways housing and property became commodities during a crucial period of urbanization, Selling Paris is an urban history of business and a business history of a city that transforms our understanding of both.

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Sentimental Education
The Story of a Young Man
Gustave Flaubert
University of Minnesota Press, 2024

A fresh and vivid translation of Flaubert’s influential bildungsroman


Gustave Flaubert conceived Sentimental Education, his final complete novel, as the history of his own generation, one that failed to fulfill the promise of the Revolution of 1848. Published a few months before the start of the 1870 Franco–Prussian War, it offers both a sweeping panorama of French society over three decades and an intimate bildungsroman of a young man from a small town who arrives in Paris when protests against the monarchy are increasing.

 

The novel’s protagonist, Frédéric Moreau, alternates between aimlessness and ambition as he searches for a meaningful life through love affairs and republican politics. Flaubert’s narrative includes scenes of high drama, as scattered protests across Paris swell into revolution, and quiet moments of self-aware romanticism, crafting a story that possesses the sweep and scope of a historical novel combined with deep emotion and scandalous intimacy. Suffused with tragedy and the poignancy of lost chances and wasted lives, Sentimental Education is sharpened by satirical observations of what Flaubert condemned as the Second Empire’s endemic hypocrisy and willful blindness.

 

This vibrant, new translation by Raymond N. MacKenzie includes an extensive critical introduction and annotations to help the modern reader appreciate Flaubert’s achievement. Sentimental Education intertwines the personal, the intimate, and the subjective with the political, social, and cultural, embedding Frédéric’s story in the larger arc of what Flaubert saw as France’s decline into mediocrity and imbecility in its politics and manners.

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Sheer Presence
The Veil in Manet’s Paris
Marni Reva Kessler
University of Minnesota Press, 2006
Tamar’s instrument of seduction in the Hebrew Bible, Penelope’s shroud in Homer’s Odyssey, accessory of brides as well as widows, and hallmark of the religious and the wealthy, the veil has historically been an intriguing signifier. Initially donned in France for liturgical purposes and later for masked balls and as a sun- and windscreen at the seashore, face-covering veils were adopted for fashionable urban use during the reign of Napoleon III. In Sheer Presence, Marni Reva Kessler demonstrates how this ubiquitous garment and its visual representations knot together many of the precepts of Parisian life. Considering the period from the beginning of Napoleon III’s rule in 1852 to 1889, when the Paris Universal Exhibition displayed veiled North African Muslims and other indigenous colonial peoples, Kessler deftly connects the increased presence of the veil on the streets and on canvas to Haussmann’s massive renovation of Paris. The fashion of veil wearing, she argues, was imbricated with broader concerns: fears of dust and disease fueled by Haussmannization and class mixing on the city streets, changes in ideals of youth and beauty, attempts to increase popular support for imperialism, and the development of modernist art practices. A veil was protection for the proper woman from the vices associated with the modern city, preserving—at least on the surface—her femininity and class superiority. Kessler explores these themes with close readings of paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, Edgar Degas, and Edouard Manet—including Manet’s perplexing portraits of artist Berthe Morisot—as well as photographs, images from the popular press, engravings, lithographs, and academic paintings. She also mines French fashion journals, etiquette books, novels, and medical publications for clues to the veil’s complex meanings during the period.Positioning the veil directly at the intersection of feminist, formalist, and social art history, Kessler offers a fresh perspective on period discourses of public health, seduction and sexuality, colonial stereotypes, and, ultimately, an emerging modernity.Marni Reva Kessler is assistant professor of art history at the University of Kansas.
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Sisters of Liberty
Marseille, Lyon, Paris and the Reaction to a Centralized State, 1868-1871
Louis M. Greenberg
Harvard University Press, 1971

Although the Paris Commune of 1871 has been the subject of voluminous writing, especially on the place of the uprising in the development of socialist thought and practice, little was previously done on provincial communal movements.

First published in 1971, this book offers an exploration of the insurrection as part of the nationwide struggle for municipal and departmental liberties, bringing to the fore the Commune's relationship to the broader historical problem of the consolidation and future character of the Third Republic, especially in the provinces. Greenberg thus sees the event as part of a long developing effort to decentralize political power in France.

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The Vanishing Children of Paris
Rumor and Politics before the French Revolution
Arlette Farge and Jacques Revel
Harvard University Press, 1991
In the spring of 1750 a two-day series of riots erupted in Paris when the populace discovered that police were sweeping children off the streets in an overzealous attempt to control vagrancy. Arlette Farge and Jacques Revel use this bizarre incident and its colorful cast of actors to view broader issues such as the power of rumor, mob psychology, the exercise of authority, and the maintenance of peace in Paris under the ancien régime.
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Women of the Left Bank
Paris, 1900-1940
By Shari Benstock
University of Texas Press, 1986

Now available in a durable paperback edition, Shari Benstock's critically acclaimed, best-selling Women of the Left Bank is a fascinating exploration of the lives and works of some two dozen American, English, and French women whose talent shaped the Paris expatriate experience in the century's early years.

This ambitious historical, biographical, and critical study has taken its place among the foremost works of literary criticism. Maurice Beebe calls it "a distinguished contribution to modern literary history." Jane Marcus hails it as "the first serious literary history of the period and its women writers, making along the way no small contribution to our understanding of the relationships between women artists and their male counterparts, from Henry James to Hemingway, Joyce, Picasso, and Pound."

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Women Together/Women Apart
Portraits of Lesbian Paris
Latimer, Tirza True
Rutgers University Press, 2005

What does it mean to look like a lesbian? Though it remains impossible to conjure a definitive image that captures the breadth of this highly nuanced term, today at least we are able to consider an array of visual representations that have been put into circulation by lesbians themselves over the last six or seven decades. In the early twentieth century, though, no notion of lesbianism as a coherent social or cultural identity yet existed.

In Women Together/Women Apart, Tirza True Latimer explores the revolutionary period between World War I and World War II when lesbian artists working in Paris began to shape the first visual models that gave lesbians a collective sense of identity and allowed them to recognize each other. Flocking to Paris from around the world, artists and performers such as Romaine Brooks, Claude Cahun, Marcel Moore, and Suzy Solidor used portraiture to theorize and visualize a "new breed" of feminine subject. The book focuses on problems of feminine and lesbian self-representation at a time and place where the rights of women to political, professional, economic, domestic, and sexual autonomy had yet to be acknowledged by the law. Under such circumstances, same-sex solidarity and relative independence from men held important political implications.

Combining gender theory with visual, cultural, and historical analysis, Latimer draws a vivid picture of the impact of sexual politics on the cultural life of Paris during this key period. The book also illuminates the far-reaching consequences of lesbian portraiture on contemporary constructions of lesbian identity.

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Writing At Risk
Interviews Uncommon Writers
Jason Weiss
University of Iowa Press, 1991

Much has been made of the image of writers in Paris—romanticized and idealized in fiction and on screen, these émigré artists in sidewalk cafés spark our imagination with unusual force. But rarely do the real-life figures speak to us directly to comment on their work, their lives, and their reasons for choosing to live and work in Paris.

In these striking interviews, E. M. Cioran, Julio Cortázar, Brion Gysin, Eugène Ionesco, Carlos Fuentes, Jean-Claude Carrière, Milan Kundera, Nathalie Sarraute, and Edmund Jabès do just this as they speak out on the risks they've taken, on their struggles and discoveries, on tradition, challenge, and their near-unanimous status as émigrés. A consummate interviewer, Jason Weiss spoke in depth with these pathbreaking artists regarding their lives, their craft, and their very special relationship to Paris. Their writings were naturally the main focus of investigation, but Weiss' concern was always to build on previous interviews, to deepen certain lines of inquiry and open new ones, to contribute fresh material to the ongoing record. The result is a series of invigorating, detailed portraits that go beyond personality, habits, and pleasures to examine some of the causes and effects in the unique relationship of place and temperament.

Writing at Risk suggests that there is more than we suspect binding writers of such disparate cultures and genres…perhaps their attitudes toward writing, perhaps their common attraction to risk. Readers will relish the immediacy of these interviews and will want to (re)discover the work of these exceptional artists.

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