An American in Paris 1860-1960 (T7054)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

In the long twentieth century, Paris captured the American imagination unlike any other city outside of the United States. Before the Second World War, Paris housed the largest American expatriate community in the world. It included well-known Left Bank intellectuals and artists but also businessmen, humanitarians, anti-colonial activists, soldiers, itinerant workers and wealthy heiresses.

Paris – the imperial center that Walter Benjamin called ‘the capital of the nineteenth century’ – mediated the birth of the ‘American century’ (the twentieth) and the rise of U.S. imperialism.

Through historical, literary, and film texts, this interdisciplinary course investigates the non-territoriality of American power and culture against the backdrop of Paris’s diverse ‘American colony’. Americans went to Paris to become American, and the making of Paris as an American city represents a story of elite migration and boosterism as much as one about the literary and artistic avant-garde. By analysing multiple perspectives on the United States’ international reach in a unique host environment, you will acquire a nuanced and historically grounded understanding of ‘Americanisation’ in the twentieth century. More broadly, we will address a question that continues to have resonance in a globalised world: what does it mean to be an expatriate?


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Dissertation)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 36 hours of contact time and 264 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.