This course is concerned with visual culture in Paris during the Second Empire and the early Third Republic. It takes as its focal point the art of Edouard Manet--easily the most idiosyncratic painter of his time, as well as a seminal figure in the various histories of modernism that emerged over the course of the twentieth century. Our objective is to disentangle Manet from the broader concerns of modernism, and to assess his idiosyncrasies within the immediate cultural context in which he worked. Such a project involves close readings of contemporaneous critical voices (Baudelaire, Zola, Thoré, et. al.), as well as a thorough understanding of a modernity born of revolution, consumer capitalism, and imperialism. But it also involves assessments of modernism itself, and especially of the critical perspectives that have made modernism a site of ongoing debate. The course is accordingly designed to facilitate a multiplicity of approaches to Manet, which is all in keeping with the multiplicity of sources, media, and styles that came to bear--all too transparently, according to his detractors--on every aspect of his work. Requirements: Weekly responses to readings, an oral presentation (@ 20 minutes) and a research paper (@ 20 pages). Estimated cost of materials: less than $50.