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 essays, criticism, and poetry of Charles Baudelaire--perhaps the most probing, and easily the most idiosyncratic and contentious observer of the cultural events of his time. Baudelaire's responses to the annual controversies of the Paris Salon, the caricatures of the daily press, the wholesale rebuilding of the capital under Louis Napoleon, and in a larger sense, to the concept of Romanticism, the experience of modern life, and the objectives of criticism itself, are crucial to our understanding of modernism in the visual arts. The course is accordingly designed to review recent theorizations of modernism (almost all of which locate the origins of their subject in the work of Courbet and Manet) in the context of a strongly historical reading of Baudelaire's various musings on painting, sculpture, caricature, and the city. It also aims to re-assess the advent of modernist painting in terms of its relation (antagonistic or complicitous) to a wide range of Parisian cultural phenomena--from the somewhat narrow interests of professional artists and critics, to the broader consequences of urban modernization. Requirements: In-class quizzes, a short in-class presentation (@ fifteen minutes), and a long research paper (@15-20 pages).
Estimated cost of materials: less than $50. D. 4