Of Pens and Palettes: World and Image in 19th-Century French Art and Literature
This course will examine the sometimes collaborative, sometimes strained exchange between French artists and writers throughout the long 19th century. Was the language of poetry, set against the cultural and social phenomena of technology, science, and secularization, no longer pertinent to a jaded, positivist times? Was painting, which seduced the eye with the illusion of reality, the sign of a degenerate society that had lost its poetic and intellectual sensibilities? Examining the major movements in both art and literature, we will concentrate on French writers and poets who were also art critics and theorists; painters who called themselves poets; and poets who were also visual artists. Along with readings, images in a variety of media such as paintings, drawings, and sculpture will be integral to class discussions. Particular focus will be placed on the cultural politics of the Salon and the increasing focus on the representation of urban life. Key texts include Balzac’s Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu and La Fille aux yeux d’or; Baudelaire’s Salon writings (in conjunction with Les Fleurs du mal); Zola’s L’Oeuvre; and Apollinaire’s Calligrammes. The major artists or art movements to be considered are Delacroix, the Barbizon School, Courbet, Manet, Cézanne, and Impressionism.
Though not yet confirmed, plans for a class trip to the recently relocated Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia are currently being explored.