Welcome to the seminar on Americans in Paris

American writers and artists – from Thomas Jefferson to Henry James, Edith Wharton to Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald to Shay Youngblood – have viewed the French as a people who value art and creativity, the aesthete and the intellectual more highly than Americans. Those Americans marginalized or discriminated against in the U.S., such as Josephine Baker and James Baldwin and a variety of jazz musicians, have judged Paris to be a place where they can live and love and create as they please. In this seminar we will discuss what Americans hope to find in Paris that they don’t find in the United States, we will locate where the Paris of their dreams departs from reality, and we will compare their quests across generations and demographic groups. We will also be on the lookout for how the writers’ narratives can sometimes be at odds with the structures, both film and fiction, that contain them. Throughout the semester we will attempt to think more complexly about American stereotypes of Paris and French people, both positive and negative; about why these stereotypes exist and what functions they serve for Americans. But we will also consider how Americans are perceived by the French and why, and the effects of misperceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. The topics highlighted in the course outline – from cosmopolitanism to globalization – will make their way into our discussions throughout the semester.

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About swjones

Suzanne W. Jones is Professor of English and chair of the English Department at the University of Richmond. In the fall 2010 she taught an interdiscipliinary first-year seminar on "Americans in Paris."; in the spring 2013 she is teaching a seminar on "Literary New Orleans." Her articles on modern and contemporary literature have appeared in a number of journals and essay collections. She is the author of Race Mixing: Southern Fiction since the Sixties (2004) and the editor of three collections of essays -- Poverty and Progress in the U.S. South since 1920 with Mark Newman (2006), South to a New Place: Region, Literature, Culture with Sharon Monteith (2002) and Writing the Woman Artist: Essays on Poetics, Politics, and Portraiture (1991) -- and two collections of stories -- Crossing the Color Line: Readings in Black and White (2000) and Growing Up in the South (1991, 2003). Recently an essay on Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from my Father, was published in the collection, The Obama Effect. Her most recent essay published in an online journal is "Imagining Jefferson and Hemings in Paris" (Transatlantica: Revue d’Études Américaines, 1 [2111] http://transatlantica.revues.org/5391).
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One Response to Welcome to the seminar on Americans in Paris

  1. Ken says:

    Great course!!!

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