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Paris: Black in the City of Light

Black in the City of Light

  • Paris, FRANCE: June 3-22, 2019 (3 weeks)
  • TRAVL-UG/GG 9301 | 4 credits | Instructor: Myisha Priest (NYU Gallatin)
  • LEVEL: Undergraduate & Graduate, NYU and non-NYU students
  • TOPICS: Literature, art and politics, Harlem Renaissance, and more

Info Session

Meet Prof. Priest and learn more about the course! Location: 1 Washington Pl. (Gallatin Building)

Thursday, Feb. 14, 10:00am–11:00am, Rm. 801

quilt depicting many people dining at tables at a cafe on the street

Le Cafe des Artistes by Faith Ringgold

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.

Gallatin undergraduates: This course fulfills 4 units of the Interdisciplinary Seminar as well as the Humanities requirement.


  • Undergraduate & graduate students of all NYU and non-NYU schools
  • Must have completed at least one full-time college semester before the course begins
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA, good academic & disciplinary standing
  • Must be matriculated at a college or university during the Summer 2019 term


*Program fee includes mandatory excursions, some meals, and mandatory international health insurance, which is provided for the program duration.

IMPORTANT: the program fee becomes nonrefundable after students confirm participation in the course. Course tuition, the program fee, and other fees above are due typically by early May, according to NYU's summer billing cycle.

Other Major Costs to Consider:

  • Round-trip airfare (students purchase their own tickets and are responsible for their own accommodation for travel beyond the program dates); students will be notified when to book flights
  • Fees for passport; fees for travel visa, if required
  • Most meals and local transportation

Financial Aid

The Gallatin Dean's Scholarship is available for this program. See our Financial Aid for Study Away page for details on eligibility and additional opportunities.

Important Travel Details

Housing: Students are required to reside in housing arranged by NYU Gallatin. Students who have questions or concerns about accessibility or disability-related accommodations should contact NYU’s Moses Center.

Travel Documents: All program participants are required to have a valid passport, and certain participants might need a travel visa. These documents should be obtained well in advance of the program start date.

Helpful LinksLonely Planet France, US State Department: Travel to France

Contact Info

NYU Gallatin Office of Global Programs
411 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
1 (212) 998-7133 phone
1 (212) 995-4265 fax

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