Carnegie Mellon University

Topics in French & Francophone Studies: Paris, between the Myths & Realities

Course Number: 82-416

Spring 2023: Paris, between the Myths & Realities

This course will explore the numerous and evolving representations of the Parisian cityscape in literature and popular culture. How do French and foreign authors and filmmakers choose to represent the City of Light? Which aspects of Parisian life do these voices focus on, and why? How do these representations influence French and global perceptions of the city? Drawing from the study of myths by Roland Barthes and Claude Lévi-Strauss, as well as images in poetry, novels, films and popular culture, we will look at the "production" of Paris. We will contrast mainstream images of the city (a place for lovers and baguettes, the Louvre, Notre Dame) with a lesser-known side of the city, from its catacombs to its ethnic neighborhoods and "banlieues." We will also examine the relations between Americans and Paris, from the works of writers such as Ernest Hemingway to the current perceptions of the city conveyed by/in American popular culture. Readings will include Baudelaire's Le Spleen de Paris, Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, Mireille Guiliano's Ces Françaises qui ne grossissent pas, and Alain Mabanckou's Bleu Blanc Rouge. The course will also examine the filmic representations of Paris in Paul Feig's Bridesmaids and Paris je t'aime. Good reading skills in French and a good ability to express oneself both orally and in writing are essential. In line with the spirit of these explorations, you are encouraged to use a variety of media for your presentation.

VIEW the Schedule of Classes for more details

Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): 82303 and 82304