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Black in the City of Light, Paris

Semester and Year SU 2018
Course Number TRAVL-UG9301
Section 001
Instructor Myisha Priest
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM


This three-week course meets in Paris, May 28 - June 16. Permission required. For more information and to apply, please click on course title and link to application.


Application: For more information: Description: It is often claimed of Paris that the color blindness of its citizens and politics created a haven for African American expatriates. It is certainly true that some of the most important political, philosophical, literary and artistic works of African American culture arise from an encounter with the City of Light, but contained within these works is not "racelessness" but a pronounced sense and articulation of what it means to be a Black American. From the written works of Harlem Renaissance writers Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Countee Cullen that fomented the Negritude movement, to the performances of Josephine Baker, to the art of Henry Ossawa Tanner and Beauford Delaney, to the music of jazz musicians Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Bill Coleman, to the political philosophies and writings of W.E.B. Dubois and James Baldwin, Paris's influence on the creation of African American culture has been profound. Less noted is the degree to which the African American presence in Paris influenced international art and political thought, from the use of African cubism among European artists to the shaping of the philosophies of thinkers like Sarte, Camus and de Beauvoir. We will focus on Paris as a site of exchange—as an intersection through which pass influential ideas, forms and actions. We will consider the degree to which the encounter with Paris paradoxically made African American writers and artists more aware of and intent upon defining and articulating their Americanness, and finding in it a foundation for increased political activism and shaping of a Pan-African sensibility and community. This class will examine the literature, art, food, geographies, and politics of African American expatriates in Paris, paying particular attention to the ways that the view from another shore shaped political thought and activism arising from a deepened awareness of national and international identity that Paris inspired. Trips to explore the richness of African American life in Paris will include walking tours of "Black Paris," visits to the Louvre and other museums that hold African American art, restaurants that were centers of African American culture in Paris, and even gravesites where expatriates are buried, and which raise crucial questions about the meanings of "home." Students will have plenty of time to use the ideas and works in the course to create their projects and pursue their own ideas.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Travel Courses (TRAVL-UG)