Performing Gender: Paris in the Roaring Twenties
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NHUM 3035
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
- Cultural Studies
- Gender and Sexuality Studies
The Jazz Age in Paris was, in the words of Maurice Sachs, "the decade of illusion." It was the era of dancings, le bal negre, Mistinguett, the Charleston, Josephine Baker, and jazz; it was the era of Cocteau, Picasso, Man Ray, Kiki, and the Russian ballet; it was the era of Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, and the flapper. This course provides a cultural overview of Paris in the Roaring Twenties, with a focus on the representation of women on stage and in literary texts. Our study includes surrealist art and literature, avant-garde film, performance art, jazz music, and cultural criticism. We examine a number of paradigms that arise in the literature of the period: the New Woman, the female phantom, the machine woman, the Black Venus. We pay close attention to both primary sources and cultural reception. Slides of art and lithographs of the period are shown. Readings include Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, Colette's Cheri, Breton's Nadja, Djuna Barnes' Nightwood, and Langston Hughes' poetry. There is a creative role-playing component to the course.