Summer Schools


Paris Summer School

Seeking such a unique introduction to Paris was fantastic and we were importantly encouraged to find our own Paris. It was amazing to learn about Paris through philosophers, writers, painters and scientists; importantly I learnt that Hemingway was right…Paris does stay with you and I can now see myself living here

~ Sara Kilian, European Summer School, Paris 2017

Course structure

Below is a sample of some of the modules we expect to run during at the Paris Summer School. We encourage you to check the website regularly for updates to the schedule and programme content.

'Paris Boulversé: from Royal squares, circles and triangles to Haussmann's boulevards, and beyond...'

The lecture deals with Parisian urbanism from the seventeenth century until, broadly, the late nineteenth. The consequences for contemporary Paris are explored, and techniques for reading Paris, through its topography and planned developments, are utilised in order to build upon more orthodox ‘readings’ of Parisian culture. Followed by an Architectural walking tour of the left bank and Ile de la Cité. Beginning in (Rive Gauche) Luxembourg Gardens, Place and Theatre de l’Odeon, Cour du Commerce St André, Pont Neuf; then (Ile de la Cité) Place Dauphine, Notre Dame, Monument de la Deportation and ending the day with a visit to the Centre Pompidou.

Revolutions in Science: Lavoiser, Lamrck and beyond

Delve into the scientific revolutions of the past and how they involved a paradigm shift and changed the way societies perceived the world. We will explore the work of some key scientists, travelling from heliocentrism, via the discovery of chemical elements, biological evolutionary theories, key scientific discoveries that lead to the industrial revolution to finally arrive at the contemporary study of our planet as a single system (the Gaia hypothesis). We will see Paris as the geographical space where many of these revolutions happened, some coinciding with the political and social events of the French Revolution. Lavoisier and Lamarck were both working and revolutionizing the scientific world in Paris at the time the French Revolution.  During the afternoon, we will visit Lavoisier’s laboratory in the 3ème, or the Jardin des Plantes, where we will discuss the life and work of these scientists, we will also visit the beautiful Foucault’s Pendulum at the Panthéon, final proof of the rotation of the earth.

Could There Be a Right to Revolution?

While expressing his support for the French Revolution, Kant famously denied that there could be a right to revolution. We explore the philosophical interest of this apprant paradox and some of the solutions suggested in recent political philosophy. By using this conceptual framwork we are able to address some of the most exciting questions posed by Kant's view, such as: Is political violence ever justified? Can individual autonomy and state authoritybe effectively reconciled? How does politics relate to morality? We also visit the Panthéon and La Conciergerie.

From Futurism to Concrete Poetry: Typographical Revolutions in Italy, France and the UK

Modern and contemporary poets have experimented with collage, layout and typography to add new visual dimensions to the effects and resources of the written word. These new forms of expression seek to achieve for literature the impact that was previously the prerogative of painting, drawing, posters and photography.  Peter Read will present Italian Futurist "words in liberty", "lyrical ideograms" by Guillaume Apollinaire and picture poems by Ian Hamilton Finlay. This will include a visit to the Musée Rodin and sculpture garden, to see works by Rodin, often inspired by literary subjects, and by Camille Claudel.

Revolutionary Women in France: from Olympe de Gouges to the FEMEN

The French Revolution of 1789 was not only about the rights of men to equality and freedom: women greatly participated in the French Revolution, in order to also obtain rights and to improve their lives and their position in society and within the family sphere. The most famous call for women’s rights in this period came from Marie Gouze – known as Olympe de Gouges – whose Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791) was modeled on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the fundamental text of the French Revolution, as a response to the lack of rights for women in such a time of change.     You will be taken on a journey following the footsteps of some of the many revolutionary women in France will finally lead us to consider some contemporary debates within French society, with more recent feminist activist groups such as Les Chiennes de Garde, Ni Putes ni Soumises, or the FEMEN, whose headquarters are in Paris. A specially selected exhibition relating the the rights of women will be visited as part of the seminar.

Immigration and Integration and visit to Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration

The French Revolution focused on equality and giving more political, civil and socio-economic rights to the masses. France developed a major colonial empire from the 19th to the mid-20th century and has welcomed migrants persecuted in their own countries. But how are immigrants represented in museum space?

Picasso and Cubism: An Artistic Revolution

Peter Read’s illustrated lecture on Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) will present the work Picasso produced as an art student in Barcelona and then as a young artist making his way in Paris (1901-1906). We will see how he assimilated the lessons of Cézanne, African masks and early Iberian sculptures in order to paint in 1907 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (New York, Museum of Modern Art), a monumental composition which overturned established conventions of perspective and representation and initiated the development of cubism. Along this trajectory, we will discuss some significant paintings and sculptures displayed in the Musée national Picasso in Paris.

Includes a visit to Picasso Museum to view the works discussed.

Rising Up and Rising Down: Revolution and Bloodshed

Students will be taken on a tour of the haunted tunnels of the Paris catacombs, into caverns that hold the bones of more than six million people. The visit will be used as the inspiration for a piece of creative writing that responds to some of the darker chapters of Paris's history. Students will be taken through a range of literary responses to violence, before finding their own voice, their own way of representing the wreckage of history. Includes a visit to the Catacombs.

Queer Revolutions? James Baldwin in Paris

Giovanni had awakened an itch, had released a gnaw in me. I realized it one afternoon, when I was taking him to work via the boulevard Montparnasse. We had bought a kilo of cherries and we were eating them as we walked along. we were both insufferable childish and high-spirited that afternoon and the spectacle we presented, two grown men, jostling each other on the sidewalk, and aiming spitballs, into each other’s faces, must have been outrageous
—James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (1956)
James Baldwin’s second novel, Giovanni’s Room, narrates the story of a young American traveller, David, who becomes immersed in the heady and sensuous queer subculture of 1950s Paris. Since its publication the novel has become a foundational text for gay writing, yet its appeal, as Caryl Phillips has argued, is much broader. In many ways, Giovanni’s Room provides its readers with a Modern account of the ways in which the city, as a space, both generates and frustrates the formation of sexual identities. In this seminar, we will examine the ways in which Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room presents Paris as a city where sexual revolution can signal both a rupture from norms and a revolving normativity.

Undefining the Defined: Irrational approaches to writing

“Is not the most erotic portion of a body where the garment gapes?” asks Roland Barthes. In text, what is this gaping between two contours, this interaction which both promises and denies view, and which is precisely the source of our states of pleasure from text as both writers and readers.

As readers, we can observe the difference in our experience of text of pleasure (“that comes from culture and does not break with it”, comfortable reading) and text of bliss (“that unsettles the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language”).

As writers, how do we move beyond the inherited pleasuring of text, and make room for the undefined as we are defining it?

Includes a visit to the cimetière de Montparnasse to put our observations into practice with some irrational approaches to writing.



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Last Updated: 21/01/2019