Course Description

Course Name

International History of Arts, Literature, and Photography

Session: VPRF3121

Hours & Credits

3 US Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


This course is designed to introduce students to the literature, art and photography of France with an
overview from the 19th through the 20th century creations. The last two hundred years has been a
period of stunning changes in societies throughout the world, with the arrival of the industrial revolution
and the move from largely agrarian societies to those much more centered in urban areas. As a
consequence of a changing society and the spread of wealth to a larger and larger group we see the
steady development of a consumer society. Naturally, all of these changes left their mark on the
creative class which reacted sometimes in celebration and sometimes with criticism to these
transformations. Paris, throughout much of this period, can be said to have been the capital of the art,
literature and photography worlds but also of the burgeoning world of luxury products which develop
side by side with these various art forms. The inter-relations and influences between these creative
worlds has been complex and diverse but it is clear that each springs from similar sources even if the
goals are not always identical. We will focus on some of the seminal creations in literature, visual art
and photography to help students better understand how to analyze and evaluate works in these
creative pursuits to better understand the place of luxury goods in a larger cultural context.
It is hoped that the students will:
  • develop a foundation for understanding some of the more important periods and artistic/intellectual movements in the literary, artistic and photographic worlds of the last two centuries.
  • develop a better idea of some of the important world events and their impact on the creative world.
  • begin to recognize some of the most accomplished names in the literary, artistic and photographic worlds.
  • develop sensitivity for understanding and analyzing the subtleties of creative work in these different artistic worlds.
  • begin to see similarities and differences between the artistic and the luxury goods worlds over these past two centuries; how each has impacted as well as been influenced by the other creative worlds.
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to: engage in a richer, more sophisticated
way both verbally and in writing with creations in literature, the visual arts and in photography. They
will likewise begin to better understand and articulate what makes various creations interesting and/or
important. Additionally, students will develop a greater sense of the history of these three creative
endeavors over the course of the last two hundred years.
Students will be asked to complete regular reading assignments throughout the semester. There will
be one long novel--Marcel Proust's Swan in Love, which will be supplemented with other smaller texts
by French poets. Students will likewise be expected to read several chapters introducing photo history
from Naomi Rosenblum and art history from H.E. Gombrich. Class participation will be an important
component of student's grades as will a journal students will keep in which students will be asked to
offer written reactions to the various readings during the semester. Likewise, students will frequently
be asked to write brief reactions to questions the teacher will raise which relate to subjects we are
discussing in class. This journal will be graded as a kind of work book of student reflection about
classroom topics. Students will make one or two oral presentations in class and there will be one
photographic project where students will use a camera (your telephone camera is perfect) to create
images which will illustrate questions discussed in class. There will also be a mid term exam and one
or two short quizzes.
The final grade will be determined as follows:
Class participation: 15%, Journal writings: 20% Quizzes: 15%, Midterm: 25%, Oral Presentations: 25%
Session 1
Read Gombrich, Introduction.
Rosenblum Ch. 1 Early Years.
Write journal response.
Student questionnaire, discussion of student interests and knowledge about 19th/20th century culture and history. General class introduction, overview of historical background of 19th and 20th centuries.
Session 2
Read Gombrich, Ch. 25
Permanent Revolution. Write journal response.
Discussion of Invention of photography, early practictioners
(Nièpce, Daguere, Fox Talbot)
Session 3
Read Gombrich, Ch. 26, New Standards. Journal responses for all including
Discussion of Realist (Corot, Millet, Courbet) and Impressionist painters (Sisley, Monet, Manet)
Session 4
Purchase Camus?s Th e
Ou t s i d e r . Read Hirsch, Ch. 9, write journal responses.
Discussion of Post-Impressionist painters (Toulouse Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh)
Session 5
Begin Camus? The Outsider Field Trip (Musée d?Orsay) : Look at Realists (Courbet, Corot), Impressionists (Sisley, Monet, Manet) and Post-Impressionists (Gauguin, Van Gogh)
Session 6
Read Rosenblum Ch. 5 Photo & Art. Continue Th e O u t s i d e r .
Discuss Cézanne paintings, late 19th century photography.
Session 7
Read Hirsch, Ch. 10
(Modernism), write journal
Mid Term Exam Introduction to Modernism, and early 20th century photography and visual arts (Picasso, Braque)
Session 8
Continue Th e O u t s i d e r Read Gombrich Ch. 27 Experimental
Field Trip (Pompidou) : Look at early modernist works in
painting and photography.
Continue Th e O u t s i d e r Read Gombrich Ch. 28 Story without End
No class, national holiday
Session 9
Read Rosenblum, Ch. 10 Words & Pictures. Finish The Outsider
Discuss Th e O u t s i d e r . Discuss French Humanist
Session 10
Prepare Oral Presentations
Continue discussion of The Outsider. Discussion of Post World War II art & photography. Oral Presentations
Session 11
Prepare Oral Presentations
Oral Presentations
Session 12
Prepare for final exam
Final Exam

*Course content subject to change