French Language & Liberal Arts
2011/2012 Year - Course Description
Gay Paris: Culture, Society & Urban Sexual Identity
CEA Partner Institution: CEA GlobalCampus: Paris
Location: Paris, FrancePrimary Subject Area: Gender Studies
UNH Course Code: GEN330
Instruction in: English
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: Introduction to Sociology, Gender Studies, or equivalent
This course investigates cultural, social and literary histories of gay and lesbian identities in the context of urban space in Paris, France. You will examine formations and constructions of these sexual identities as they have been framed in Paris, specifically since the end of the nineteenth century.
You will begin by examining the theoretical underpinnings of sexuality and sexual identity. Employing the theoretical tools of theorists Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and John D'Emilio, you will excavate sexual identity, history and place within modern urban conditions and build a historiographical foundation of sexual identity. You will unearth and examine degeneracy, deviance, homophobia and homo-criminality in the context of these considerations and scrutinize these factors specifically within a French setting.
You will also engage in a historical analysis of homosexuality in 20th century Paris. You will start with "Women of the Left Bank"--that band of pioneering women writers and thinkers (many lesbian and bisexual), who lived in Paris during the Belle Époque and interwar years. You will also look into manifestations of homosexual culture during World War I and the years leading up to World War II, investigating how war and soldier-hood marked sexual identity and experience. You will then analyze the effects of the Trente Glorieuses and subsequent Cultural Revolution in Paris on homosexual subjectivity in the late 1960's and consider the political and intellectual consequences stemming from it: post-1968 French Feminism, gay liberation movements in the 1970's, the advent of the gay press, AIDS, and gay citizenship, political concerns--including civil rights issues, combating homophobia and violence, and the discrimination of queers of color-- across the 1990s and into the 21st century.
In any discussion built around a monolithic term such as "homosexuality," it is imperative to examine questions of difference. Within our historical review, you will study how the categories of race, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, class, ethnicity and immigration crosscut sexual identity and sexual citizenship.
Throughout the semester, you will participate in the building of the intellectual superstructure of the course by creating and utilizing two physical maps: gay Paris and lesbian Paris. These maps will pinpoint and reflect gay and lesbian urban spaces, community centers and locales in the contemporary city space, both geographically and temporally. You will chart past focal points for historical gay and lesbian citizens of the city--many of whom were literary and art figures who, through their experience in Paris, exerted considerable influence on the history of ideas. These maps will provide you with a sense of how gay and lesbian individuals and communities, within a variety of contexts, situate themselves and exert their subjectivities on the spaces they occupy. You will also be required to identify one gay or lesbian site within the Marais neighborhood, make contact with that establishment, frequent it as regularly as possible, and conduct a short interview with the proprietor to document the history of the site and develop a sketch of its patrons.