Americans in Paris
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “[A] walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” We will explore the city that mesmerized both Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson, the first Americans in Paris. We will examine why writers, from Jefferson to James Baldwin, wrote about Paris; why jazz musicians Sidney Bêchet and Cole Porter composed in Paris; why Josephine Baker danced in Paris and became a fashion icon; and why filmmakers such as Sophia Coppola and Woody Allen have featured Paris in their films. We will learn to read the city and report on its culture from the vantage point of young 21st-century Americans in Paris, and ask whether, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “[the] best of America drifts to Paris,” and “The American in Paris is the best American.” We ask why Paris emerged as the center of western design, architecture, literature, art, music, and film, why western culture has so prized Paris and copied its city planning, architecture, literature, and art, and why the city has been, and keeps being, a springboard for creativity, social change, and personal growth.
- Walk in the footsteps of Jefferson, Twain, Hemingway, Stein, and other Americans in Paris.
- Sit in cafes and observe Paris and Parisians—the architecture, the fashion, the art that meets you on every corner.
- Partake in Parisian joie de vivre as you make Paris your own.
What Students Are Saying
- "I learned what it was to be curious about a sense of place, which prior to that I simply took for granted. The program taught me to be an observer. I hadn’t actively and mindfully explored a city before like I did in Paris. Paris opened my eyes to historic, cultural, culinary, artistic and technological traits that make it unique. And now I am more curious and able to explore and understand other places in the future. Science is exploration, and one must understand the interaction of details as well as see the overarching concepts. There are parallels in that way of thinking, and that is how Paris enlarged my thinking. Wherever I end up in medical school, and it will likely be in a metropolitan area, I will seek to discover that new place in the ways I learned to discover Paris. Walking, mindfully exploring the various facets of it, and coming to understand the essence of it."
- "I see America completely differently now, and this experience has made me want to travel and do more with my life."
- "I have a deeper understanding of Parisian culture than I thought I would receive from this course. I was able to participate in new activities that we don't have in the U.S. I made connections with other students as well as the Parisians."