This course is concerned with visual and literary culture in Paris during the Second Republic, the Second Empire, and the early years of the Third Republic. It takes as its focal point the critical writings of Charles Baudelaire--perhaps the most probing, and easily the most idiosyncratic and contentious observer of the cultural events of his time. Baudelaire's reflections on painting, sculpture, caricature, and photography--and, in a larger sense, the experience of modern life and the objectives of criticism itself--are crucial to our understanding of modern art during the mid nineteenth century. The course is accordingly designed to review recent theorizations of modernism in direct relation to Baudelaire's various critical writings. It also aims to re-assess the advent of modern French painting in the context of a wide range of Parisian cultural phenomena--from the somewhat narrow interests of professional artists and critics, to the broader consequences of revolution, industrialization, and the emergence of consumer capitalism. Requirements: Weekly responses to course readings and a long research paper (@15-20 pages).
Estimated cost of materials: less than $50. D. 4