Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

Impressionism and the Modern City

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1804
Section 001
Instructor Joshua Shirkey
Days W
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



By breaking with all traditional standards by which great painting was judged – naturalistic representation, historically distant subject matter, and narrative content – Impressionism defined modernism in art. It is no coincidence that Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Morisot, and their followers were based in Paris, a key center of modernization in western culture. Indeed, Paris itself was their primary subject. This course considers how the profound economic and political changes of the later 19th century did, and did not, appear in such characteristic Impressionist themes as leisure, labor, commerce, class, transportation, entertainment, poverty, family, and sex. We will seek to trace the ways that social forces like industrial capitalism and the rise of the bourgeoisie were manifested in the pictorial form of Impressionist painting and the physical form of Haussmann’s Paris. Our guiding text will be T.J. Clark’s groundbreaking study The Painting of Modern Life ; in addition to art historical readings, we will draw on fiction (Balzac, Zola) and critical sources both historical (Marx, Baudelaire, Benjamin) and contemporary (Marshall Berman, Susan Buck-Morss, David Harvey).


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)