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History of Paris: An Architectural Perspective Liberal Arts & French Studies Program Spring 2025 Semester - Paris

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History of Paris: An Architectural Perspective

History of Paris: An Architectural Perspective Course Overview


CEA CAPA Partner Institution: CEA CAPA Paris Center
Location: Paris, France
Primary Subject Area: Art History
Other Subject Area: Architecture, History
Instruction in: English
Course Code: ARH420
Transcript Source: University of New Haven
Course Details: Level 400
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: None required


In this course we will trace the history of Paris from an architectural perspective from the Gallo-Roman times to the 21st Century. Our starting point is the conviction that architecture and city planning are more than utilitarian or aesthetic enterprises - that such efforts necessarily involve, and are often dominated by, political and ideological considerations. Therefore, you will analyze the political and historical forces at work in the many styles of modern French building in order to demonstrate how each style reflects both the contemporary historical forces at work in each period as well as the political aspirations, in both the domestic and international spheres. To this end, you will explore the crucial role played by the Monarchy, the Church, the aristocracy, the French State, the bourgeoisie, and France's many kings, emperors and Republican presidents in the drafting, designing, funding, and constructing of the many grand monuments, public buildings, and private mansions in Paris.

You will see, study, sketch and photograph many structures in Paris in order to expose the political, historical and cultural considerations underlying the urban planning and various architectural and decorative styles that evolved here in Paris. In addition, you will become familiar with and able to "read" the many decorative motifs, symbols, icons and architectural techniques that evolved as a consequence and were employed so as to make pointed political statements and historical references. You will learn to recognize and critically appraise the historical, cultural, and political references manifested in different political buildings and historical monuments. In short, you will become a visual witness of and skilled commentator on the enduring fact that State architecture and style serve political objectives and power interests. These interests you will uncover and identify as you study on-site the political, religious and civil art and architecture which has shaped the urban development and history of Paris throughout the ages.

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