Autumn 2018 Programs

In Autumn 2018, the Center in Paris will host four study abroad programs for undergraduate students. The faculty and their courses are listed below:

African Civilizations: Colonialism, Migration, Diaspora

Adom Getachew (Political Science) – African Civilizations in Paris I
“Africa” in the modern Western imaginary has long been constituted as a site of absences and alterity that fixes it as the “dark continent” and therefore the other of European Enlightenment. However, this ideological construction occurred alongside the development of political, economic, and cultural entanglements between Africa and Europe. In particular, this discourse shielded and justified imperial domination and exploitation. As we shall see throughout this course, far from marginal or beyond world history, African bodies, labor, art forms, and intellectual production have been constitutive of European modernity. This first sequence of African Civilizations will consider moments of imperial encounter, exchange and circulation that allows us to examine the entangled histories of France and Africa and highlight the African presence in France and the Francophone World. In week one, we will consider transatlantic slavery and the Atlantic World it engendered, week two takes us to the Age of Revolutions and the beginnings of imperial expansion in North Africa, and finally in week 3 we consider 19th century imperialism and its 20th century afterlives. Organized around the formation, consolidation and decline of the French empire, this course will highlight the following entanglements: (1) examine the central role of the transatlantic trade in the making of French (and European) modernity (2) explore the global reverberations of the French Revolution and consider its racial and imperial limits, and (3) consider the ways in which African and African diasporic subjects of French rule negotiated republican citizenship.

Gregory Valdespino (History) – African Civilizations in Paris II
Part Two of African Civilization in Paris focuses on the phenomenon of migration between Africa and Europe in historical perspective, with a particular focus on France and its former African colonies. The course seeks to move past crisis narratives of migration that ignore the long history of African migration and presence in Europe. By doing so, the course hopes to equip students with the ability to recognize the entangled historical relationship between Africa and Europe and contextualize contemporary debates about migration to Europe within broader historical debates about the meaning of borders and the salience of colonial history in contemporary postcolonial Africa and Europe.

The class is divided into three parts on the history of African migration to Europe broadly, with a particular focus on France. First, we will examine the long durée history of African migration to Europe before the 20th century. Then the class will explore the social and political realities and ramifications of colonial migration in the 20th century. Finally, the class will examine contemporary migration.

Emily Lord Fransee (History) – African Civilizations in Paris III
African Civilizations in Paris considers Africa’s place in the world, generally, and in Europe especially, through an examination of centuries of encounter, empire and migration. African Civ III investigates the role of art and culture in the colonial and postcolonial era, considering the role of museums and collecting, artistic expression, and popular culture. In the Western imaginary, Africa has long been depicted as the dark continent, an inscrutable and otherworldly place, and the “other” to the European enlightenment. In this sequence, we will investigate the ideological and cultural processes through which this imagination was constructed as well as the centrality of African persons, art forms, and cultural productions to the making of the modern world. We will consider how Africans have been depicted within French imperialist culture, how they asserted their own images within the colonial era, as well as more recent Franco-African cultural production. Avenues of cultural production we will investigate major topics such as film, art, and literature as well as more “popular culture” such as consumer culture and advertising, museums, beauty and aesthetics, clothing, music and performance, leisure, sports, monuments, and food. Assessment is based on reading assignments, spoken participation and presentation, as well as short writing assignments (including Wikipedia editing).

European Civilization in English

Philippe Desan (Romance Languages and Literatures) – European Civilization in Paris I
This course is a hybrid: at once an introduction to European Civilization since the late Middle Ages and an overview of French history. We will have two objectives: on the one hand, to master the historian’s craft; on the other to integrate textual analysis with the discovery of a French history and culture. To do so, we will read historical documents and ‘classic’ texts, discuss and debate them in our 4 weekly meetings.

Larry Norman (Romance Languages and Literatures) – European Civilization in Paris II
We will closely read and discuss a number of historical, philosophical, political and literary texts that have shaped the history of ideas in Europe. We will consider the social, intellectual, and political order of the Ancien Régime, the rise of secularization and the Enlightenment, the political and cultural implications of the French Revolution. Although we will concentrate on French texts, attention will be paid to French relations to other cultures — European (British, German, etc.) and beyond (the Islamic world, the Americas) — with a focus on contending notions of cosmopolitanism, relativism, nationalism and internationalism.

Leora Auslander (History) – European Civilization in Paris III
This course continues your 9 week voyage through European history, with an emphasis on France. Our focus will be on the question of how the principals of “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” established during the French Revolution, played out during the 19th and 20th centuries. Was the emphasis on “liberty to” or “liberty from”? Did equality refer to equality of opportunity or of outcomes? How could equality be meaningful in a slave society? or in one in which women lacked social and political rights into the post World War II period? Fraternity may be the most elusive term; who can be “like a brother” to whom? Finally, did the aspiration to a society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity end at each nation’s borders? Were the citizens or subjects of other lands, or imperial holdings, not also brothers? What form of governance could best make these ideals real? These were all urgent questions for 19th and 20th century Europeans, questions that they hotly debated. We will follow those discussions and their transformations as changes in economy, the arts, and science changed the terms. Particular attention will be paid to how key moments in the establishment of, or challenges to liberty, equality and fraternity were lived and commemorated (or not) in Paris and elsewhere in France.

How did lives of wealthy and poor Parisians (and their interactions) change over the 19th or 20th centuries? Paris was one of few major European cities not devastated during either of the world wars. How did other cities rebuild? How did it matter that Paris didn’t have to? What aspects of the last two centuries of European history are part of Europeans’ daily lives? or sites of tourism/pilgrimage? How does that differ from country to country? What might the consequences be?

We will take full advantage of the fabulous opportunities offered by studying European Civilization in Europe rather than Chicago by doing as much work in Paris as possible.

European Civilization in French

Arnaud Coulombel (Center in Paris) – Civilisation Européenne I
Ce cours est un hybride : à la fois une introduction à l’histoire de la civilisation européenne depuis le Moyen Age jusqu’à la Renaissance et une vue d’ensemble de l’histoire de France durant ces périodes. Notre objectif sera double : d’une part, intégrer étude de textes et découverte de certains sites historiques ; d’autre part, pratiquer le métier d’historien de la culture. Pour ce faire, nous analyserons lors de nos quatre réunions hebdomadaires des documents historiques ainsi que des œuvres littéraires, philosophiques et artistiques. Nous complèterons notre étude de la civilisation française et européenne par des conférences sur site de musées, monuments, monastères, et châteaux.

Robert Morrissey (Romance Languages and Literatures) – Civilisation Européenne II
Cette série de cours est un hybride : à la fois une introduction à l’histoire de la civilisation européenne depuis le Moyen Age et une vue d’ensemble de l’histoire de France durant cette période (avec un intérêt particulier porté à la région parisienne). Notre objectif sera double : d’une part, intégrer étude de textes et découverte de Paris et sa région ; d’autre part pratiquer le métier d’historien de la culture. Pour ce faire, nous analyserons lors de nos quatre réunions hebdomadaires des documents historiques ainsi que des oeuvres littéraires, philosophiques et artistiques. Nous complèterons notre étude de la civilisation française par des conférences sur site de musées, monuments, monastères, et châteaux.

Nos cours auront lieu tels qu’ils apparaissent sur votre emploi du temps. Je situerai nos textes dans leur contexte historique, mais la majeure partie des cours sera consacrée à une analyse des textes qui fera appel à votre participation orale. Les jours d’excursion, notre cours aura lieu ‘sur le terrain’ plutôt que dans la salle de cours.

Thomas Pavel (Romance Languages and Literatures) – Civilisation Européenne III
3E PARTIE : La France moderne à la recherche d’elle-même


Steven Shevell (Psychology) – Sensation and Perception
What we see and hear depends on energy that enters the eyes and ears, but what we actually experience – perception – follows from human neural responses. This course focuses on visual and auditory phenomena, including basic percepts (for example, acuity, brightness, color, loudness, pitch) and also more complex percepts such as motion and object recognition. Biological underpinnings of perception are an integral part of the course.

Peggy Mason (Neurobiology) – Neuroanatomy
In this course, we will delve deeply into the neuroanatomy of the mammalian nervous system. This understanding will be solidified by dissections of sheep brains and examination of stained slides of brain sections from rat, monkey and human brains and peripheral nerves. The pathophysiological basis of diseases such as Parkinson’s, fronto-temporal dementia, Alzheimer’s, internuclear ophthalmoplegia (a common symptom of multiple sclerosis) will be discussed before a neuroanatomical examination of the areas affected in each condition. The specific conditions to be discussed will be tailored to class interests.

Clifton Ragsdale (Neurobiology) – Evolution and the Nervous System
Evolutionary neuroscience has traditionally focused on the neural bases of animal behavior (neuroethology) and employed the methods of comparative anatomy, cellular neurophysiology and behavioral neuropsychology. This course will approach neuroethology from a modern evolutionary perspective, one that integrates findings from genomics, molecular developmental biology and paleontology. Our exploration will include the controversies over the evolutionary origin of neurons and centralized brains, the independent solutions across taxa to processing ecologically important sensory information, and recent insights into the evolution of the neocortex.