Spring 2018 Programs

The Center in Paris will host five programs for undergraduate students in Spring 2018, including the new Russian Civilization in Paris program. The faculty and their courses are listed below.


Rich Kron (Astronomy and Astrophysics) - Stars

Angela Olinto (Astronomy and Astrophysics) - Galaxies

Jacob Bean (Astronomy and Astrophysics) - Exoplanets

European Civilization

Philippe Desan (Romance Languages and Literatures) - European Civilization in Paris I

Larry Norman (Romance Languages and Literatures) - European Civilization in Paris II

Arnaud Coulombel (Center in Paris) - European Civilization in Paris III


Raoul Moati (Philosophy) - French Existentialism
Right after WWII a new way of living emerges in France: Existentialism. Existentialism becomes the name for the feeling of the Freedom recovered after France occupation by Germany. But more than a simple revolution in customs it lies on a new metaphysics of the human experience. This new metaphysics of Human’s finitude is popularized by Sartre’s manifesto: “Existentialism is a Humanism”.

The main goal of this course will be to introduce students to French Existentialism in taking as a center of our investigation Sartre’s philosophy. We will try to clarify its main origins and concepts in insisting first on the meaning of the philosophical conflict between Christian Existentialism (inspired by Kierkegaard) and Atheist Existentialism (inspired by Feuerbach and Kojeve). We will also insist on the importance of Heidegger for the formation of the French Existentialism.

Once this background clarified we will focus on Sartre’s philosophy and on Sartre’s relations to literature throughout Sartre’s art of portraying from an existentialist point of view and methodology, some major French writers like Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Genet and Flaubert. These investigations will give us a privileged key in order to make sense of the Existentialism fundamental claim following which Human life must be understood as an existential engagement towards the Impossible goal of being God. From an existentialist point of view as a matter of fact: God is no longer the principle of existence (as it is in Classical Metaphysics and Theology) but the Goal that finite existence tries to embody in vain.

Katherine Taylor (Art History) - The Creative Destruction of Paris
How should the fabled Paris cityscape – densely-packed, low-rise, and self-contained within its egg-shaped frame – modernize and update? How did a city of neighborhoods become a centralized imperial capital with citywide linkages and services, for instance under the most famous of urban renewers, Baron Haussmann, in the 1850s and 60s? How did Haussmann’s cityscape respond to conflicting urban and architectural models, partly developed in Paris itself, in the twentieth century? How will it retain its historic, touristic cachet as one of the world’s most beautiful cityscapes while remaining economically competitive and productive in today’s “global city” competition? With new towers in the works and plans to open out the city to its suburban hinterland, this is an important debate in Paris now. We’ll explore these questions both on the streets and in the classroom. Comfortable walking shoes and a hooded raincoat or poncho are course requirements.

Dominique Bluher (Cinema and Media Studies) - Chris Marker
Chris Marker (1921-2012) is one of the most influential and important filmmakers to emerge in the post-war era in France. Yet he remains relatively unknown to a wider audience. This course will take advantage of a large exhibition and retrospective hosted by the Cinémathèque française in Paris from May to July 2018.

Marker’s multifaceted work encompasses writing, photography, filmmaking, videography, gallery installation, television, and digital multimedia. He directed over 60 films and is known foremost for his ‘essay films,’ a hybrid of documentary and personal reflection which he invigorated if not ‘invented’ with films like Lettre de Sibérie (Letter from Siberia, 1958) or Sans soleil (Sunless, 1983). His most famous film, La Jetée (1962), his only (science) fiction film made up almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs, was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995). In 1990, he created his first multi-media installation Zapping Zone, and in 1997 he experimented with the format of the CD-Rom to create a multi-layered, multimedia memoir (Immemory). In 2008, he continued his venture into digital spaces with Ouvroir, realized on the platform of Second Life.

Marker was a passionate traveler who documented the journeys he took, the people he met, and revolutionary upheavals at home and afar. We will follow the journey proposed by the exhibition exploring Marker’s travels through time, space, and media, during which we will also encounter artists with whom he crossed paths, with whom he collaborated, or who were inspired by his work.


Faculty and Courses TBA

Russian Civilization

Faith Hillis (History) - Russian Civilization I

Robert Bird (Slavic Languages and Literatures, Cinema and Media Studies) - Russian Civilization II

Boris Maslov (Comparative Literature) - Occidentalism: Russian mythologies of the West