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FRN3706 - Representing Paris: Literature and Visual Culture

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Brian Nelson and Leigh Astbury


Not offered in 2007


This interdisciplinary unit ranging across literature, painting, photography, fashion and social history will study symbolic representations of Paris in 19th Century writing (Baudelaire, Zola), painting (Manet, Degas) and early 20th Century photography (Atget, Brassai, Cartier-Bresson) relating these to their historical contexts (growth and metamorphosis of the city, Haussmann's redevelopment of Paris, the birth of leisure and consumerism). It will examine the emergence of such urban figures as the flaneur, dandy and prostitute and will explore the analytical perspectives offered by Walter Benjamin's cultural theories. (No knowledge of French language or history is required for this unit.)


Having completed this unit students will:

  1. have developed a knowledge of some of the major symbolic representations of modern Paris across a range of literary and visual texts.
  2. understood broader, underlying structural changes in society that inform literary and visual representations of modern cities such as Paris.
  3. have explored the relationship between various literary and visual representations of the city and developed skills in analyzing and articulating the nature of this relationship.
  4. be able to conceptualise images of the city in relation to theoretical and methodological issues promulgated by writers and theorists such as Walter Benjamin.


Essay (3000 words) : 60%
Test (1.5 hours) (1500 words equivalent) : 40%

Contact hours

One x 1 hr lecture/week


A first year level unit in French Studies, Visual Culture, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Drama and Theatre Studies, or English.