Paris/Versailles: The Court and the City in the 17th Century
Paris and Versailles were the twin cultural capitals of seventeenth-century Europe. At the French court, Louis XIV oversaw the creation of a “society of pleasures,” with new styles in painting, garden design, musical theater and spectacular parties. Meanwhile, in Paris, fashion and decorative arts flourished, and new forms of entertainment emerged to satisfy the consumer demands of the urban nobility and the increasingly wealthy, powerful bourgeoisie. In this course, we explore the overlapping but rival cultures of the court and the city in this rich and very showy period of French cultural history. Topics of discussion include: the construction of cultural centers and peripheries; the role of style, taste, and consumerism in the fabrication of social identities; the theatricality of life at court and in the city; and the relationship between political power and aesthetics. All readings, coursework, and discussions are in French. Fulfills LA, NA, and WB requirements.