Paris Exploration Program

On August 26, the Center in Paris will welcome a small group of incoming first-year University of Chicago undergraduate students for a two-week Paris Exploration Program.

Students participating in the 2018 Paris Exploration Program will study with UChicago PhD student Gregory Valdespino and Professor Leora Auslander of the Department of History. Mr. Valdespino will offer a course titled “The Sacred City: Paris’s Religious Landscape” which will explore the debates about the place of religion and diversity in Paris by exploring how the city’s diverse religious communities have made places for themselves in the city, and Professor Auslander will teach “Remembering in the City: Paris’s Commemorative Landscape,” in which students will learn about the controversies surrounding what events in French history should be commemorated in brick and mortar or on sign posts on the streets of the capital. Excursions in and around the city will feature significant sites of religious and commemorative practice.

Read course descriptions below:

“The Sacred City: Paris’s Religious Landscape”
August 27–31, 2018
Gregory Valdespino

Does religion have a place in modern France? From debates about burkinis and headscarves to Catholic protests against gay marriage, this question has caught global headlines over the past few years. Yet these stories often ignore the longer histories of religious diversity and division. By exploring religious sites across Paris, this course will explore how individuals and communities have sought to make a place for themselves and their faith in this bustling metropolis. The class will visit and discuss houses of worship and other significant spaces related to Paris’s Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist communities. Students will be encouraged to use Paris’s religious landscape as a lens to see how changing ideas about race, faith, and liberty have shaped French society.

“Remembering in the City: Paris’s Commemorative Landscape”
September 3–7, 2018
Leora Auslander

Most of a nation’s past is forgotten. Unless a conscious effort is made to keep them in consciousness, even the events that seem momentous when they occur and the most heroic or villainous leaders fade from memory within a generation or two. Our focus in this course will be on the commemorative sites both banal and monumental inscribed into the Parisian streetscape, including those celebrating national achievement, those mourning loss, and those grappling with shame. Our investigation will include: street and subway station naming; the Pantheon; the Communard’s wall; the Shoah memorial in Drancy; the sculpture, “Fers” commemorating France’s participation in the slave trade; and, the Immigration Museum.

All photos by Yuliya Tsutserova