West European Studies | Paris in the 1890's
W605 | 4249 | Herzel


Meets TR 9:30-10:45A
Meets with CMLT C603 and THTR T583
Obtain online authorization from department

Paris in the 1890s was, in the words of Roger Shattuck, "the cultural
capital of the world, which set fashions in dress, the arts, and the
pleasures of life," these pleasures being defined as "a life of
pompous display, frivolity, hypocrisy, cultivated taste, and relaxed
morals." It was also a time of intense and varied theatrical activity
in several kinds of venues: in the commercial "boulevard" theatres;
at the Comedie-Francaise, an agency of the national government, which
was at the height of its prestige and gloried in its mission as the
custodian of the national dramatic heritage; and the low-budget,
experimental "art" theatres on the fringes of Paris, which, led by
people like Antoine and Lugne-Poe, had a profound influence on the
development of twentieth-century international theatre. Further
dimensions were added to the theatrical scene by the flourishing
cabaret and music-hall culture and by the artists, notably Toulouse-
Lautrec, whose careers were intertwined with the entertainment world.
We will try to situate this complicated world within the social
context of the leisure life of Parisians and visitors to Paris and
within the visual context of the city itself, which had recently
undergone massive urban renewal; and finally we will pay attention to
the deep anxieties about class and gender roles which found
expression, both comic and serious, in many different forms of
contemporary entertainment.

All readings will be in English; they will include Cyrano de
Bergerac, Ubu Roi, Pelleas and Melisande, two farces by Feydeau,
fiction by
Colette and Proust, theatre reviews by Henry James, and background
readings in art, social, and theatrical history.

Grading basis: class discussion, two or three short oral reports, one
research paper.