Paris: Myth and Reality in the 19th century - FR593

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 15 (7.5) MS SL Cooper


Students registering for this module will need to have proficiency in the target language at level B1/B2, as the module is taught partly in the target language


This module is not available as a wild module



Among the capital cities of Europe, Paris has a particularly rich and interesting history. In the revolution of 1789 and subsequent political upheavals in the course of the nineteenth century (1830, 1848, 1870-71), the city played a key role in deciding the fate of the nation. In the same period, it grew dramatically in size and emerged as a modern metropolis. Widely divergent views were expressed as to the wholesomeness of city living; opinion differed equally violently among writers as to the benefits to be derived from the explosive growth of the city. The module will examine conditions of life in the real Paris of the 19th Century and in particular the radical and highly controversial changes to the face of the city brought about during the Second Empire under the direction of Baron Haussmann. The main focus of the module, however, will be the images of the city as mediated in contemporary fiction (Balzac and Zola amongst others), poetry (Baudelaire) and painting (Manet’s vision of city life).


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One weekly one-hour lecture and one weekly one-hour seminar for 10 weeks

Method of assessment

100% Coursework

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading:

BALZAC - 'Le Père Goriot'
ZOLA - 'Nana'
BAUDELAIRE - 'Tableaux Parisiens' in 'Les Fleurs du Mal'

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the module will:

1. have gained a critical appreciation of a wide range of literary and visual works produced in France during the nineteenth century;
2. have explored the literary, artistic and historical background of the works studied, and have assessed and critically analysed the complex links between Paris as a real city and its representation by writers and artists;
3. have developed their analytical skills relating to close reading and evaluation of literary texts;
4. have developed their reading speed in French.

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