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President Jill Tiefenthaler's Blog

Block 1 in Paris

This block, Gale Murray (Art History) and Tip Ragan (History) are teaching a group of students in Paris.  Their interdisciplinary course explores art and cultural history in the city of lights in the 19th century.  The class combines the best of CC’s on-campus course discussions with the challenges of experiential learning.

Gale and Tip report that -

Using the city as their laboratory, students analyze the century’s most important artistic and literary movements against the backdrop of ongoing revolutionary and counter-revolutionary change during the age of industrialization.  Typically, students meet at the pension in the morning to discuss readings and learn from art history power point presentations.  Then, in the afternoons, they visit museums and monuments to experience first-hand the legacy of nineteenth-century Paris.   There are also a number of evening events, which blend the more “academic” and the more “social.”

This process is extremely energizing and exciting for both students and faculty.  Students build a basis of expertise much more quickly than they could do in a similar course on campus, and their engagement with their professors, each other, and the people and places that they encounter in Paris is invigorating.  To give an example from last week about the kind of layering of learning that takes place, the students grappled with the theme of “orientalism.”  First, they read and discussed several chapters of Edward Said’s seminal text, Orientalism to set up the theoretical problematic.  Then, Gale gave a power point presentation on the Romantic obsession with the “east” in the early nineteenth century.  A visit to the Louvre enabled them to see themselves the paintings studied.  At the end of the week, the class discussed Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Notre Dame de Paris, which is replete with orientalist themes.  That afternoon, a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Victor Hugo house allowed the students to see the relationship of orientalism to larger currents within nineteenth-century thought.  And on Friday evening, the week ended in a fitting celebration at a North African couscous restaurant!

Where do I sign up??

Students studying in Paris with Professors Murray and Ragan in Block 1

Students studying in Paris with Professors Murray and Ragan

2 Comments

  1. Mitch Ignatoff says:

    I wish I could go back to college!

  2. karen says:

    Hooray for putting the focus on the XIX!

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