American Jazz in Paris

by Kelly Wilkens

Even though jazz originated in the United States, it had a significant impact on Europe.  Especially in Paris, jazz was highly appreciated and musicians typically had an easier time finding jobs.  Jazz became popular in Paris during 1920s, and it reached its height with Sidney Bechet in the late 1940s and 1950s.  However, the genre did not die with Bechet in 1959.  It continued to flourish in both the old and new forms.  Jazz still lives on in Paris and around the world today.

Jazz originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1900.  The style formed during this time was later seen as the traditional style that many musicians practiced.  The “swing” beat and solo breaks of the style kept it popular for many years.  In 1919, the Southern Syncopated Orchestra began its European tour with Bechet as a key member of its ensemble (Henderson 1).  He initially popularized jazz in France, and swept through the country becoming one of the first famous American jazz musicians in Paris.  As other early recordings made their way into Paris, the genre became more and more popular (Holmes 1).  The locals received jazz musicians positively, and they had a much easier time finding jobs in Paris.

While jazz was popular in many parts of Paris, Montmartre and Montparnasse were the artistic centers where the style came alive.  Both areas housed a variety of artists: painters, writers, and musicians were commonly seen around both quarters.  Montparnasse was a favorite of many painters and writers in the 1920s.  The area was full of cafes, cabarets, and nightclubs that were packed around the clock.  Waiters were even told not to disturb regulars if they fell asleep at tables for long periods of time (Stovall 35).  Famous French and American artists found their inspiration in Montparnasse, and looked especially to jazz musicians who performed at night.  The well-known Club Bobino, home to Josephine Baker and Bechet, was a particular favorite of many.  Jazz flourished in Montparnasse under the inspiration of the artistic community until the beginning of World War II when the community collapsed under the pressure of the war.

Parisian jazz in the 1930s saw many visiting artists, but the movement saw fleeting popularity.  The beginning of the Second World War led to an artistic decline in Paris (Roberts 1).  For many years, musicians such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Coleman Hawkins toured Europe in hopes of reviving the jazz culture.  While they were only semi-successful, their legacies lived on in Paris.  At the end of the war, Charles de Gaulle took control of France.  Under his leadership, economic prosperity allowed for the return of many artists to Paris (Roberts 1).  They could once again find work with high pay and locals were more than willing to listen.  The style remained similar to that of the 1920s and early 1930s: traditional New Orleans jazz and swing music dominated.

The height of jazz and Bechet reached Paris at the same time.  After many European tours and a number of years in the United States, Bechet returned to France in 1949.  After a fantastic reception at the Paris Jazz Festival, he decided to make a permanent residence just outside the city.  He played a variety of styles during this time, unlike many other artists, and even branched out into the more radical genres like bebop.  During the time in the United States where civil rights issues were so prominent, many African American artists found salvation in Paris.  Here, they were accepted into society without prejudice, and locals were more friendly and relaxed than they were in the American music scene.  Bechet especially prospered, finding much success and happiness until his death in 1959.

Jazz music did not die with Bechet, however.  The 1960s saw many visiting artists who played customary New Orleans jazz as well as newer styles.  Traditionalists such as Duke Ellington, Paul Newman, and Louis Armstrong continued to frequent the Parisian jazz scene.  While this style was still appreciated by many, free jazz was also making a splash.  Popular American musicians such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane brought free jazz to Paris, which prospered with the locals.  Jazz continues to flourish in Paris today, and Bechet along with many other artists were responsible for the long-term appeal of the music in Paris.

Works Cited

Roberts, William J. “France in the post-World War II era.” France: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present, European Nations. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc.  13 Oct. 2010.

“Bechet, Sidney (1897-1959).” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Ed. Andrea Kovacs Henderson. 2nd ed. Vol. 22. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Discovering Collection. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.

Holmes, Thom. “jazz.” Carlin, Richard, gen. ed. Jazz, American Popular Music. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. 19 Oct. 2010.

Stovall, Tyler. Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light. Mariner Books, 1998. Print.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shay Youngblood: A Search for Self

by Andrew Jones

An only child, Shay Youngblood was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1959. She became an orphan early on; when she was two-and-a-half years old, her birth mother passed away. A group of family members and women in the community raised her; they taught her how to be independent and free-thinking, and also taught her the art of storytelling. They became her “Big Mamas,” and were the main influence for her short story collection, The Big Mama Stories. At an early age, she saw a story on television about Howard Hughes and his extravagant lifestyle. Her first poem was inspired by “the injustice she perceived in the wealthy lavishly spending money while others went without necessities,” becoming one of her main criticisms about society (“Shay Youngblood”).

Shay YoungbloodShay Youngblood originally aspired to be an actress, but racial tensions that persisted during her childhood forced her to change her interests. She served as the narrator for many of her school’s plays, but was not allowed to stay after school at the schools she attended. Therefore, Youngblood sought a new medium with which to express her passions. She had always been interested in stories, and would “eavesdrop on her relatives to make sure to hear the juiciest ones” (“Shay Youngblood”). Her fascination with the art of storytelling would foreshadow her future career as a writer.

Youngblood was one of the first in her family to attend college. She attended Clark College (now Clark-Atlanta College) where she graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communications. During her time as a student she participated in a college service project to Haiti, which raised her political awareness and gave her a first-hand look at the effects of oppression and political turmoil. Shortly after graduating, she joined the Peace Corps in Dominica as an Agricultural Information officer. Her first published short story, “In a House of Wooden Monkeys,” was written during her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Coyne).

When she returned to the United States, she began to get involved with theatre. She wrote a drama titled Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery that debuted at the Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1988. That same year, she released her short story collection titled The Big Mama Stories. Youngblood says that the collection came from a longing “to give something back to them,” and that she wrote it in a way that others would be able to relate to the characters (Youngblood). Despite her initial success as a playwright, she struggled to make a profit from her work. Financial woes, coupled with heartbreak due to personal losses, drove Youngblood to Paris. Tickets were cheap, so she left her job and sold most of her possessions to buy a round-trip ticket; she brought $200 cash. She wanted to “start a new life…there were many young blacks moving to Paris hoping to be transformed” (Youngblood).

The Paris she encountered was not the same one she romanticized about. The equality that so many African Americans sought was hampered by racial prejudice, and she still struggled financially. Youngblood became an “au pair”; her hosts were both Americans, the husband a writer and the mother a lawyer. Overall her experience with the family was very good, and she was “extremely well-off compared to the other living arrangements that her fellow au pairs had to deal with” (Youngblood). For Youngblood, Paris helped her regain her sense of identity. It gave her confidence because after overcoming the heartbreaks in her life there, she felt that she “could survive anything and everything” (Youngblood).

Feeling rejuvenated, Youngblood returned to the United States wanting to learn more about the art of play writing. She applied and was admitted into the Master of Fine Arts Program at Brown University, where she studied under Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. She describes her experience as “life changing…I learned not only to write plays, but to direct, act, and produce them” (“Shay Youngblood”). However, Youngblood eventually realized that the climate was not the best time for playwrights and artists; she felt discouraged around theatre, and she had projects but struggled to find “the muse” to work on them (“Shay Youngblood”).

Shay Youngblood At A Book ReadingYoungblood began to write novels. It took her over three years to write Soul Kiss, a story about a teenage girl trying to find her identity. The novel received positive reviews, some of which drew parallels between the main character’s story and the author’s personal life. Youngblood acknowledges the similarities shown in her work. When her birth mother passed away she was forced to “invent” a life; her first book was a story in which she explored “what it would have been like to have had a birth mother throughout her childhood” (Youngblood). She next wrote Black Girl in Paris, a story about an aspiring African American writer trying to live her dreams in Paris in the 1980’s. The reviews were positive, and once again reviewers attempted to figure out which characters and scenes mirrored events in the author’s life. Youngblood stresses that the stories in Black Girl in Paris “are a combination of the stories of others, mixed with her own” (Youngblood).

Shay Youngblood

Like many writers, Youngblood has several unique practices. She writes her draftslonghand (she erased the hard drive on her first computer by accident), she sends unsolicited submissions to her publishers in batches every three months, and she buys a ring at the beginning of every project to remind herself of long-term commitments. Recently she has been working on several projects. She has written an operatic novel, a collection of short stories, and a graphic novel, but none have reached a publisher yet. She is working on a new novel set in Hawaii and Japan and will be living in Tokyo. Youngblood hopes to return to Paris by the end of 2012, “one of the places [she] calls home” (Youngblood). She currently resides in Denton, Texas.

Works Cited

Coyne, John. “Talking With Shay Youngblood.” Peace Corps Writers, 2008. 14 November 2010. <;.

“Shay Youngblood.” The Gale Group, 2006. 14 November 2010. <;.

Youngblood, Shay. Telephone interview. 9 November 2010.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

American Novelist Diane Johnson: The Edith Wharton of Her Generation

by Emily Shuman

Diane Johnson was born Diane Lain on April 28, 1934, in Moline, Illinois, which she describes as a place where, “everyone knew you or your parents, and life was full of small pleasures, few excitements” (Colby 1). This low-key, Mid-Western background hardly seems characteristic of the cosmopolitan expatriate that she would become later in life. Initially, Johnson did not seem on the path to becoming a writer; she pursued her education at Stephens College when she was just seventeen but later dropped out to become a wife and mother. Yet with the passage of time she grew to realize her talent and potential future in writing, an epiphany that guided her development as a woman and a novelist. Over the course of her life and career Diane Johnson has evolved from an empowered female and mother to a passionate, political expatriate, two roles that have undeniably shaped her work, perspective of the world, and outlook on life.

Johnson’s academic career got off to an uncertain start when she dropped out of college to marry her first husband. She eventually obtained her B.A at the University of Utah in 1957, giving birth to her first two children just a year earlier. From there she avidly pursued her education, ultimately receiving her M.A and P.h.D from UCLA. In this same period of time Johnson’s family experienced both growth and destruction; she gave birth to her third and fourth children but divorced her husband soon after. In the aftermath of her divorce Johnson had her first international experience, briefly moving to England. Abroad, she began work on her first published piece, a biographical study of Mary Ellen Peacock Nicolls Meredith, which was also her doctoral thesis. Yet even at this time, writing had not occurred to Johnson as a possible occupation. In 1968 she returned to the United States and later married John Frederic Murray, a doctor and professor at the University of California. With her marriage came a relocation to San Francisco where the couple still lives part-time.

It took quite a long time for Johnson to truly consider herself as a novelist. As she revealed in an interview, “I really didn’t know that writers were still alive. I had the impression that everyone who wrote books had written them already and disappeared from earth” ( Yalom 124). Johnson had always recognized that she had a certain talent for writing and even when she eventually began to explore writing fiction she still did not consider it a true vocation. The budding author expressed timidity, revealing, “It’s hard to conceive of yourself as a writer, so you await proof before you take that pledge and say, ‘I’m a writer’” (Pearlman & Henderson 50). Under the advice of her close friend novelist Allison Lane, Johnson finally began to see that her talent could be a useful and worthwhile career. Lane also convinced Johnson that she should not feel guilty about hiring a babysitter and taking time away from her role as a mother to pursue her writing. With this newfound support Johnson officially dedicated herself to her writing.

Johnson’s works generally share one underlying commonality in that they all feature female narrators. As a consequence of prejudice against them in society, Johnson feels that women are not considered trustworthy narrators in literature. Through her work she conveys her support for empowered women, stating that, “I write about women of childbearing age, because I like to fly in the face of these prejudices and hope that I can make them authoritative and trustworthy reporters” (Yalom 128). Johnson uses her role as an author as a vehicle for her personal ideals, believing that, “every fully conscious woman is at heart a feminist, whether she calls herself one or not” (Yalom 136). However, the plots of Johnson’s novels are not intended to be feminist complaints; instead she maintains that she is, “not trying to write manifestos about female independence, but human lives,” (Yalom 127). Thus, although she opposes society’s prejudices, Johnson’s true aim is to create equality through her female characters and create issues that can be generalized to all of humankind.

Through the progression of her life Johnson grew from a young, empowered feminist to a cosmopolitan expatriate. Johnson experienced Paris for the first time in 1967. She exited the metro at la Place de la Concorde and was taken by how it looked lit up in a light snowfall.

In that moment she fell in love with the city, (“Conversation”1). Interestingly, it was actually her husband John Murray who took the initiative in creating the couple’s French life. Through his French colleagues John began to see the possibility of working and living abroad. The couple decided to move and now spends half the year in San Francisco and half in the City of Light. They make their home in la sixième arrondissement, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Johnson describes her neighborhood as the center of everything, which certainly contributes to her love for her French life and her second country.

Johnson’s current living situation has had a significant effect on her most recent works and has shaped her perspective on the world. Johnson’s three most recent novels, Le Divorce, Le Mariage, and L’Affaire, are satires of Americans living abroad in France that focus on culture clashes and the way the French view Americans. The novels can be best described as comedies of manners and have earned her the nickname, “The Edith Wharton of her generation,” (“Conversation” 2).

Johnson’s choice of topic was certainly influenced by her own situation and the environment around her. She expressed, “I want to write about Americans and you can really see them better in the context of another society” (Yalom 130). Her interest in Franco-American relations stretches beyond inspiration for her novels. Since she splits her time between the United States and France, Johnson is a unique, part-time expatriate who must also split her allegiance between two nations. While in France, Johnson follows American politics avidly and is even a member of an organization called Democrats Abroad. Her political activism reached its pinnacle in the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq when she found herself in the middle of a heated tension between her two nations. Johnson describes her community of Americans in France as having a more internationalist perspective on the world and having reservations about the decision to go to war (Darman 2). Despite the delicacy of the situation, Johnson freely expressed her opinion in an interview with Newsweek: “I actually don’t feel French anti-Americanism when I’m here the way I feel American anti-Frenchness when I’m in the United States. I don’t know where that comes from. It’s very hard to understand if you’re here because there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it. I mean, America doesn’t or shouldn’t require everyone to automatically approve whatever nutty thing they’re going to do so I don’t see why the average American in the street got so up in arms about France” (Darman 2).

Living in both the United States and France allows Johnson to see both perspectives, influencing her views on political relations, the American public, and the French people. Despite the animosity, Johnson claims that most of the French she knows don’t mind her Americanness and that a few have even approached her saying, “We know it’s not your fault, you know it’s just your president and we know he’s crazy” (Darman 2). As a result of her years in France, Johnson has embraced the true cosmopolitan lifestyle, identifying with both the United States and her adopted country of France. This lifestyle enables her to provide unique criticism of international relations between the two.

Diane Johnson’s experiences over the course of her life have allowed her to come into her own as a writer and as a person. Through the passage of time she has gradually evolved from a young mother to an empowered female to a budding writer, to a modern day cosmopolitan. For now she remains a part-time expatriate, sharing her support and love for two countries and cultures. Current Johnson and her husband spend eight months of the year in Paris, but she admits that the period of time is slowly stretching to become even longer. This trend could bring new possibilities as the author’s attachment to France grows deeper. Her new life, new country, and new city have already undeniably affected her in many ways and will only continue to do so in the future. In regards to just how Paris has changed her life she divulges, “I certainly feel a broader, richer experience of life. In some ways I am a happier, more productive person” (Conversation 2).

Works Cited

“A Conversation with Diane Johnson.” Paris Through Expatriate Eyes. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.

Darman, Jonathan. “Lost in Translation .” Newsweek 26 Sept. 2003. Web. 11 Nov. 2010.

“Johnson, Diane.” World Authors 1975-1980. 1985. Biography Reference Bank. Web. 11 Nov. 2010.

Pearlman, Mickey, and Katherine Usher. Inter/view Talks With America’s Writing Women. N.p. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1990. Print.

Yalom, Marilyn. Women Writers of the West Coast Speaking of Their Lives and Careers. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1983. Print.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Psychiatry in France in the Time of Zelda Fitzgerald

by Katy Geisreiter

Psychiatry underwent vast change during the first half of the twentieth century.  As psychoanalysis increased in popularity, a movement toward deinstitutionalization began in France and the rest of the world.  While psychoanalysis was increasing in popularity, there was a movement of deinstitutionalization in France and the rest of the world.  In France, the first half of the twentieth century was a time of change for psychiatry.  The government ran the nation’s health care, including the establishment of mental hospitals.  Patients of mental hospitals in France experienced poor conditions, including overcrowding and lack of proper treatment.  Attempts to reform asylum laws arose in the years preceding World War I.  These laws, which had been in effect since 1838, were considered outdated and were generally criticized.  In response to the reform movement, the French government created specialized facilities for specific patients.  Zelda Fitzgerald’s treatment for schizophrenia in various mental hospitals is representative of treatment of psychological disorders in the early to middle twentieth century.

Zelda Fitzgerald, Self-Portrait (1940s)

In April 1930, Zelda Fitzgerald was admitted to a hospital on the outskirts of Paris called Malmaison.  Although she was admitted in a state of extreme anxiety, she discharged herself after a short stay and immediately resumed her previous habits of working and partying.  A short while later, Zelda suffered a serious nervous breakdown.  This breakdown included hallucinations that made her dazed and incoherent, so she took morphine to calm herself down.  She then moved to Valmont, a clinic in Switzerland, where psychiatrist Dr. Oscar Forel treated her.  Dr. Forel stated that Zelda could only be cured with psychotherapy; he later diagnosed Zelda Fitzgerald as schizophrenic.  Zelda later developed eczema, which was linked to her psychological issues.  To treat the eczema, Dr. Forel hypnotized Zelda. The hypnosis, which was a typical treatment at the time, allegedly helped Zelda.  In 1931, Zelda transferred to a second Swiss mental hospital, Prangin.  Zelda eventually returned to the United States, where she stayed in two mental hospitals before her death in 1948.

Zelda Fitzgerald's Room at Prangins Mental Hospital

As a schizophrenic, Zelda Fitzgerald experienced hallucinations and paranoia.  She described these hallucinations in a letter to her husband: “Now I see odd things: people’s arms too long or their faces as if they were stuffed and they look tiny and far away, or suddenly out of proportion” (Milford 177).  Schizophrenia, a term first used by Swiss psychologist Eugene Beuler in 1911, is defined as a group of severe disorders characterized by disorganized and delusional thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions (Myers 669).  When Zelda Fitzgerald was being treated in mental hospitals, schizophrenics received hydrotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy as treatment.  These treatments did not cure schizophrenics.  The first antipsychotic drug, Chlorpromazine, was not created until 1952.

At the time when Zelda Fitzgerald was having her breakdown, there were “fashionable” causes of insanity.  For example, incest, as demonstrated in Tender is the Night, was often cited as the cause of mental health disorders. Disorders like schizophrenia were not seen as caused by genetics; rather, they were viewed as the result of a specific event.  The attribution of mental health problems to a certain event was a characteristic of psychoanalysis, which Sigmund Freud made famous in the beginning of the 20th century.  In 1931, Henri Ey, along with other French psychoanalysts formed the Société Psychanalytique de Paris.

Prangins Mental Hospital, Switzerland

During this time, there was a great expansion of mental hospitals around the world.  Before World War I, asylums had generally become “vast warehouses for the chronically insane and demented” (Shorter).  In the 1920s and 30s, however, a deinstitutionalization movement began in Europe and the United States. There was a change from long-term stay psychiatric hospitals to community mental health services.  Nancy Milford describes the anti-institutional atmosphere of Prangins, the Swiss hospital Zelda Fitzgerald entered in 1931: “The atmosphere was intended to be homelike rather than institutional and the number of patients was admitted was limited to ensure close psychiatric care” (Milford 162).  Prangins’s attempt to make the treatment of mental problems specialized rather than impersonal epitomizes the shift in focus from vast asylums to community health service experienced in the early twentieth century.

According to Psychiatric Cultures Compared, “the beginning of the 1920s was marked by an increasing preoccupation with hygienism and individual health protection” (Coffin 227).  In response to this preoccupation, the Ministry of Social Hygiene, Assistance, and Prevention was formed; this later became the Ministry of Public Health.  While the creation of the Ministry of Public Health demonstrated a movement toward proper attention for mental health treatment, the government still had not adequately revised the asylum laws.  After World War II, there was more avocation for reform of mental institutions, and attempts to reform were continued through the 1940s and 50s.

Works Cited

Gijswijt-Hofstra, Marijke, Harry Oosterhuis, Joost Vijselaar, and Hugh Freeman, eds. Psychiatric Cultures Compared. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2005. Electronic.

“La Question De La Formation.” Société Psychanalytique de Paris. Web. 06 Nov. 2010. <;.

Milford, Nancy. Zelda: A Biography. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1970. Print.

Myers, David G. Psychology. 8th ed. New York: Worth, 2007. Print.

Shorter, Edward. A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997. Electronic.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

France and the United States in the Wake of 9/11

by Lindsey Carlsen

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York, the world rallied in support of America. One of the most powerful nations in the world had been attacked by forces that threatened the American ideologies of freedom and liberty. These attacks shocked the world, and America’s allies became concerned that the attacks could occur on their soil just as easily. In the months immediately following the attacks, the American government, led by the Bush administration, vowed to fight terrorism. These plans were initially met by an outpouring of support from European countries, including Britain, which showed their good faith by granting America special military privileges in their country in an effort to carry out the War on Terror.

During this initial plunge into the War on Terror, even France, who according to  Kent Bolton, was “far from a booster for American hegemony” stood by the United States (269). On September 12, 2001, France’s most popular newspaper, Le Monde, displayed the headline “We are All Americans!”, illustrating their American solidarity. After a few years; however, this American-European solidarity began to fade, especially as it became clear that President Bush was orchestrating a full-scale military invasion of Iraq. Cracks in the façade of this strong alliance are especially clear when examining the relationship between the United States and France, which has always been fragile. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the relationship between these two world powers has remained friendly, despite their differing political policies.

As an American author who splits her time between Paris and San Francisco, Diane Johnson was able to witness the deterioration of French and American relations after September 11th. In this atmosphere, it is likely that Johnson felt torn in her allegiance, given her double identity as both an American and an expatriate living in Paris. In an interview with New York Times magazine, Johnson cites one of the most difficult parts of being both French and American as seeing “America go from an admired to detested nation” in the wake of the War on Terror (Levine).

There have always been strains on the relationship between France and the United States, yet with the onset of military action in the Middle East these conflicts came to a head. Feelings of discontent with American policies resonated among French citizens, and in a poll conducted by Gallup Inc. 60% of French citizens polled stated that they opposed U.S. military intervention in Iraq (USA Today). Additionally, when asked whether France should become involved with the U.S. military, 61% of French citizens polled stated that their country should stay out of the conflict in the Middle East (USA Today).

French disapproval of the War on Terror can be traced to their disapproval of President Bush, and their desire to balance American hegemony in the developed Western world. To many French citizens President Bush embodies all that is wrong with American culture, as they see him as the epitome of an ugly American, due to his image as a simplistic Texas cowboy. Their disdain for the former president also stems from the fact that his administration invaded  Iraq, even without the continued support of many powerful European actors. In Bush’s opinion, “The war on terror was a truly global fight…but one which only America could and would lead – even if many chose not to follow” (Lynch and Singh 229). These beliefs and subsequent actions reflect the power of the United States in the world political sphere, another issue that resonates with the French people. France would like to take on the role of a leader within the European Union, and in doing so become a check on American power (Bolton 271). France would like to “see the U.S. bound by the Kyoto Protocol and International Criminal Court…to constrain U.S. power” (Lynch and Singh 238). These constraints on the United States would put the world’s most powerful countries on a more even playing field, and in doing so might thaw relations between America and France. Finally, according to Timothy Lynch and Robert Singh,  “distaste toward the Bush administration [and America] in Paris” can be traced to the long-standing infiltration of American culture into France (239). American culture has invaded many aspects of French life, food, clothing, and leisure time, as the French eat at McDonald’s, watch American movies, and wear American-made clothes like Levi’s.

In the United States, these disdainful French sentiments were viewed as active hostility to American initiatives. In response to this perceived hostility, many Americans became determined to boycott French goods.

Most notably, this boycott manifested itself in the renaming of French fries to freedom fries. Although the introduction of freedom fries received a great deal of media attention in the United States, it is not the most notable case of “Francophobia” that occurred during the reign of President Bush (Wall 127). During the President Bush years, the conservative movement took center stage in America, and this caused many to feel disdain toward the French system of welfare, which is incredibly generous in comparison to that of the United States. Many conservatives in America viewed this system of welfare as wrong, describing it as “bloated, wasteful, and an inhibition to economic growth and competitiveness.” (Wall 127). Additionally, for politicians across political party lines, the biggest reason for anti-French sentiment stems from their desire to create a more powerful European Union, one that will challenge the power and influence of the United States.

The early years of the twenty-first century marked a time of great controversy between the United States and France. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York, the U.S. sought to take out all terrorists in the Middle East, a desire viewed as arrogant by many, especially the French. In the years following the invasion of Iraq; however, the relationship between the two nations has begun to thaw, and with the elections of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 and Barrack Obama in 2008, there has been a significant strengthening of the relationship. Although the relationship between the United States and France has improved in recent years, it is unlikely that the two countries will ever exist conflict free, due to both of their desire to be reigning world powers, and given the conflicts that they have experienced in the past.

Works Cited

Bolton, M. Kent. U.S. National Security and Foreign Policymaking After 9/11: Present at the Re-creation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. Print.

Levine, Edward. “A Writer’s Part-Time Paris Apartment.” The New York Times. 23 Nov. 2003. Web. 17 Nov. 2010.

Lynch, Timothy J., and Robert Singh. After Bush: The Case For Continuity In American Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

Wall, Irwin M. “The French-American War Over Iraq.” Brown Journal of World Affairs 10.2 (2004): 123-39. Print.

“Many Europeans Oppose War In Iraq.” USA Today, 20 May 2005. Web. 17 Nov. 2010.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Homosexuality in the Time of James Baldwin

by Evan Williams

Every country in Europe that participated in War World II found its male to female ratio out of proportion.  Hysteria ripped through the population as news of the drop in the population of men spread.  The idea of homosexuality filled newspapers and magazines, as observers feared an increase in lesbian activity due to the decrease in the number of men and an increase in gay activity, which Dagmar Herzog attributed to the “lack of a heterosexual outlet during the war” (164).  Europe was also facing a high divorce rate due to the pool of newly single women looking for companions and the economic and emotional difficulties many people were pitted against after the war.  These lifestyle changes, coupled with the Nazi’s conservative view on homosexuality, created a division of thought about what was appropriate or not for members of society. Herzog called this time a “sexually conservative era” and France and the recently arrived James Baldwin would have felt the confusion surrounding it (165).

The Nazis condemned homosexuality politically, using tactics such as castration, torture, and murder to scare its citizens into being heterosexual (Herzog 168).  The homophobia that arose from such condemnation caused many citizens in occupied territories, such as France, to shy away from accepting homosexuality and some even came to resent homosexuals.  The Nazis themselves were publicly sexually conservative, but as it was later avowed, were not shy about sexual fulfillment.  Highly ranked officials in the Nazi regime admitted to holding sexual pleasure in high regard after the war.  The conservative messages that were sent during wartime and the truth that came out after the war were extremely different, and this confused many citizens as to what the right path of acceptance was.  The natural response to this confusion socially was carefulness and conservativeness.

In comparison to Europe, the America that James Baldwin left had sodomy laws that existed in all 50 states until the early part of the 1960s.  The number of arrests related to sodomy (consensual or not) rose sharply in the 1950s (Eskridge 77).  Sodomy laws were not declared unconstitutional in the United States until 2003, and there are still citizens incarcerated for sodomy across the country.  The laws in America were more stringent than those in Europe, but the entire Western world felt the effects of the laws in action, and France was no different.

In Paris, homosexuality was openly discussed and openly written about, but people were still being condemned to prison for acts related to homosexuality.  As Florence Temagne points out, a law in 1960 called homosexuality “a social plague” (263-264).  In French society homosexuality was rebounding after its repression, but its presence was still struggling for acceptance from some heterosexuals.  Therefore, it is possible that manycitizens of France accepted James Baldwin during his time there, but it is clear that he must have proceeded with caution because there was still much reservation about homosexuality.

Works Cited

Eskridge, William N. Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003. New York: Viking, 2008. Print.

Herzog, Dagmar. “Desperately Seeking Normality: Sex and Marriage in the Wake of the War.” Life after Death: Approaches to a Cultural and Social History during the 1940s and 1950s. Ed. Richard Bessel and Dirk Schumann. Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 2003. NetLibrary. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

Tamagne, Florence. A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I & II. New York, NY: Algora, 2006. NetLibrary. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ernest Hemingway’s Flourishing Creativity in Paris

by Evan Williams

Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris, France, with his wife Hadley Richardson on December 22, 1922, ready to find inspiration for his work. (Griffin 12).  Hemingway moved to Paris because it was the creativity capital of the world, and he felt a calling to the romantic sides of art and life, a calling Paris could fulfill (13).  Despite his yearning for the romantic, Hemingway was also practical.  Because of its affordability, he and his wife took an apartment in the Latin Quarter, a rather frugal part of Paris.   The apartment at 74 rue de Cardinal Lemoine had no running water and a slosh bucket for a toilet.  However, they both put up with the misery of the living conditions, because they both wished to live the “bohemian lifestyle” (“Hemingway”).  To combat such a miserable home situation, Hemingway took a room at the Hotel Verlaine, where he could work in solitude and focus on the most essential part of Paris for him – his writing (Griffin 12).

While Hemingway entered Paris intending to become an important writer, he chose to adjust to his new life in Paris before emerging onto its literary scene.  Hemingway waited two months before using his letters of introduction from Sherwood Anderson to introduce himself to Ezra Pound (Griffin 13).  While Pound was not well known for his own work at that time, he was a well-known critic of others’ work and he was well connected in publishing (13).  Pound was extremely important to Hemingway’s beginnings in Paris because of these two facts.  The other person Hemingway presented a letter to was Gertrude Stein.  Stein and Hemingway ended up getting along well, to the point of becoming extremely close friends (14-15).  Through introductions to these two people, Hemingway found himself connected to other important people as well, which was very advantageous in a new city.  In Paris, Hemingway also socialized with people such as James Joyce, Max Eastman, and Wyndham Lewis (“Hemingway”).

To support his family and foster his writing style, Hemingway not only wrote short stories, but he also worked as a journalist in Paris and Europe.  He covered everything from the Geneva Convention in October of 1922 to the bullfights on the streets of Pamplona (“Hemingway”).  Just as Hemingway’s status was building as a writer and a figure in society, he and his wife discovered that she was pregnant.  Trusting the doctors in North America more than those in Europe, the couple moved to Toronto in late 1923 for the birth of their son (“Hemingway”).  Unwilling to sacrifice the momentum he had started to build in his career, Ernest and Hadley moved back to Paris in January of 1924 with the newest member of their family, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway.

Hemingway’s move back to Paris was the best thing for him as a writer, because upon his return he fell into a flurry of creativity (“Hemingway”).  In 1925, he published a collection of short stories called In Our Time.  In 1926 he published The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises.  In 1927, he published Men Without Women and ironically divorced his wife and married his lover, Pauline Pfeiffer.  Upon learning that Pauline was pregnant, the new Hemingways left Paris and went to Kansas City.  However, all of these works from 1925 to 1927 were written in Paris, the romantic and intellectual gateway to Europe.   Hemingway and his fiction might not have become so well known so quickly had he not established himself in that center of creativity.

Works Cited

“Ernest Hemingway Biography – The Paris Years.” Hemingway in Paris. The Hemingway Resource Center. n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.

Griffin, Peter.  Less Than a Treason: Hemingway in Paris. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment