Paris as a City of Memory

Please Note: This seminar will be conducted in French. This seminar will offer participants a chance to study the special role Paris has played in representations of the past. We will explore how modern and contemporary writers, filmmakers, and historians search for traces of the past in the cityscape of Paris. Participants will analyze the ways in which Paris forms a site of memory--and of forgetting--of central events of the twentieth century. Reading texts from Pierre Nora’s edited collection, Les lieux de mémoire (Realms of Memory), we begin by analyzing the notion of a lieu de mémoire and the cultural and political symbolism of the city. We will then turn to the Second World War with texts by Patrick Modiano, Georges Perec, and Ruth Zylberman about walking the streets and visiting the apartment buildings of Paris to search for an elusive understanding of the war. Finally, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the massacre of October 17, 1961, we will study a text by Leïla Sebbar about uncovering and commemorating this crime.