The Troisième République was France’s longest, spanning 1870 to 1940! We will explore it in pieces, starting with its first two decades.
It was born amid violent events. Between 1870 and 1871 the extravagant Second Empire fell, the Prussians sieged Paris, France capitulated, the people of Paris rose up in the Commune, and many of the city’s major buildings were burned to the ground.
Paris and France rebuilt with pride, leaving us with the Opéra, finally finished, the Eiffel Tower (and other structures made with metal), the Place de la République, and many now beloved civic buildings.
A new bourgeoisie took hold, and at the same time a sense of social justice emerged, seen in the writings of authors like Hugo and Zola.
Scroll down to learn more and to register for these informative and fun events!
In our Spring Series, Les Historiennes will examine a changing Paris.
Impressionism burst forth during these decades, but we shall examine other developments, such as:
Women as readers in paintings of the period
Paris’ cocottes and courtisanes
Nana—a fictional one—made famous by Zola
Germinal, the 1993 film, based on Zola’s novel of the struggles of French coal miners
A walking tour of the newly emerging Paris
A walking tour of what replaced what the Communards burned down
A visit beneath a real coal mine in Northern France
A pique-nique to celebrate our discoveries and our camaraderie
Portable Privacy: Nineteenth-Century Women and the Spaces of Reading
Friday, March 19, 6:00 – 7:15 pm, via Zoom, with Dr. Kathryn Brown
Why are there so many images of women readers in late nineteenth-century French painting? Was a book in female hands merely a form of decoration designed to highlight the reader’s beauty? Can images of women readers tell us something about the lives and reading practices of real women or are they simply fictions that reinforced nineteenth-century prejudices about female intellect and emotions?
Explore the answers to these questions with Dr. Kathryn Brown of Loughborough University, UK, the author of Women Readers in French Painting 1870—1890. The lecture will examine the social preconditions of reading practices in France from the 1870s to the 1890s and show how images of women readers addressed political anxieties that arose from the spread of literacy throughout different social classes. The paintings of Cassatt, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Renoir, Tissot, and Toulmouche will come alive for us in a new way!
Limited to 30 participants. Cost: 10€50
Chic & Scandalous Courtesans of Paris
Thursday, April 1, 6:00 – 7:15 pm, via Zoom, with Edith de Belleville
They made kings dream. They ruined fathers. They mesmerized crowds. They inspired painters and writers. Their names were Caroline Otero, Liane de Pougy, Emilienne d’Alençon, and Valtesse de la Bigne. They were the chic and scandalous courtesans of Paris, also known as cocottes, grandes horizontales or demi-mondaines. How did they become fashion icons? How did they influence leading Parisian artists? What is the difference between a prostitute and a courtesan? How did courtesans of the 19th century invent personal branding? Discover the fascinating lives of these rebellious women and the splendors and miseries of life in late 19th century Paris.
Limited to 30 participants. Cost: 16€50
Nana by Emile Zola: Book Discussion
Wednesday, April 21, 5:00 pm, via Zoom, hosted by AWG
Thursday, April 22, 7:30 pm, via Zoom, hosted by AAWE
Emile Zola’s novel Nana was an instant success, selling out all 55,000 copies on its first day in print in 1880. It was highly praised. In addition, its outraged critics boosted its popularity. It depicts Nana’s rise from prostitute to courtisane during the last three years of the Second Empire, leaving all men who pursued her destroyed in her wake. The famous cocotte Valtesse de la Bigne apparently served as her model. The book was the ninth installment in Zola’s 20-volume series, “Les Rougon-Macquart.” The ultimate “series” of its time! Nana as a character first appeared in L’Assommoir in 1877. The novel has inspired numerous film and TV series.
Join us as we enter the world of 19th century Paris’ lorettes and cocottes through the lens of Zola’s social determinism—the idea that we are determined by our heredity, our milieu, and our time.
Germinal by Emile Zola– Discussion of the 1993 Film
Thursday, April 29, 6:00 – 7:15 pm, via Zoom
Viewed as Zola’s masterpiece, published in 1885, Germinal has inspired five feature films and two TV productions. It tells the harsh and realistic story of miners involved in a coalmine strike in Northern France in the 1860s. It is the 13th novel in Zola’s Rougon-Macquard series. The novel’s central character, Etienne Lantier, like Nana, also previously appeared in the earlier novel, L’Assommoir. Germinal was the fruit of a great deal of research by Zola. Claude Berri’s 1993 film was, at the time, the most expensive feature film ever made in France. It starred Gerard Depardieu (as Etienne), Miou Miou, and Renaud.
One can access the film in the US via GooglePlay, Amazon Prime, and iTunes (all with English subtitles), and in France, via Arte (French subtitles) or Canadian iTunes (English subtitles). Join us in discussing this award-winning film adapted from one of France’s most important novels.
Limited to 15 participants. Cost: 7€
Dawn of the Third Republic: A Guided Stroll Through the Heart of the New Paris
Thursday, May 6, 3:00 – 4:30 pm, with Laura Moore
This guided walk will be led by Laura Moore, creator of the website, “Story of a City” (Paris, of course). It will start at Place de Dublin, the location of Caillebotte’s famous 1877 painting, “Paris Rainy Weather.” It will end at Place Edouard VII, where we will pause to chat over coffee, tea, or apéro in a café.
The period between 1870 and 1890 was a time of great transition and transformation for the city of Paris. It is a time period known by many names; The Third Republic, the Long 19th Century, the Paris Commune, the Long Depression, and most famously, the start of the Belle Epoque. It was a time of cultural and artistic innovation and financial devastation, of political instability and relative peace. But above all else, it was the dawn of a new era for both Paris and France.
Join Laura Moore and fellow flâneuses to learn more about this fascinating and contradictory time period and the stories of the people who lived it.
Limited to 11 participants. Cost: 21€
Ashes of the Commune
Tuesday, May 18, 2:30 pm, with Rosemary Cheylus
Imagine the Notre Dame smoke and fire of 2018 times 20, 30, or 40 ! Back in May of 1871 the population experienced a three-day bonfire of Paris’s main buildings–the culmination of the Commune uprising. It changed the physical center of Paris forever, with the destruction of many grand public and private structures. Why did the Communards do this? What was their goal and in what ways did they help shape the twentieth century? Did the new government of the 1870-1890’s make good choices for the buildings that were rebuilt and those torn down? Come see with us what emerged as we walk along the Seine and rue de Lille, the Ile de la Cité and the Rue de Rivoli. We’ll end our walk in the Jardin des Tuileries, in itself an unexpected gift of open space in the heart of the city following the fires.
Meeting point near Musee D’Orsay or Assemblée Nationale will be sent to those registered. Walking lecture, approx 5km. Wear weather-appropriate clothing, plus mask. Bring your camera! If Paris is confined, we will meet via Zoom.
Limited to 11 participants. Cost: 7€
Day Trip to Mining History Center in Lewarde
Tuesday, May 25, 8 am – 7 pm, with Margo De Ley and Marjorie Lallande
Join us in a train trip to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais to experience what life was like for the coal miners in Zola’s Germinal! Well, truly, what it was like for the hundreds of thousands who, over nearly three centuries, labored to bring forth coal from the earth. The region’s mines closed in 1990. It is now a World Heritage Site.
After taking us on a geological voyage through time to show us how coal is formed, the Mining History Center provides a fascinating and unique experience don a miner’s hat and descend into a real mine to explore its tunnels and engine rooms. Then, thanks to the exhibit “Life in a Mining Village”, we see the daily life of a miner and his family laid out before us: leisure, health, living conditions, etc. Finally, in “The Three Ages of the Mine”, models of mining sites show how the industrial and technical landscape evolved during 270 years of coal mining in the Nord-Pas de Calais.
Participants must purchase their own train tickets, museum entry ticket, and lunch on site. Details of train schedules and entry tickets will be provided in mid – March. Covid-related visit rules (and confirmation of museum access) will be provided in early May. We will take the train to Douai and then a tram or bus to Lewarde.
Lunch: Either picnic in picnic area or dine in Le Briquet restaurant (plat du jour or salad 13-15€)
Limited to 12 participants. Cost: Your train ticket (40-50€), plus museum entry (12€50), and lunch.
Tuesday, June 8, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, with Carolee Mills and Margo De Ley
A time to relax and enjoy! To share what we discovered! To exchange thoughts on the Spring series! And to congratulate!
Did you wish after the Fall series of events that we, as participants, could have gathered to exchange thoughts on what was discovered and most enjoyed? Did you wish to meet and get to know some of the faces on your Zoom screen? Join other Historiennes in a celebratory end-of-semester pique-nique planned with those very purposes in mind!
We will fittingly meet in the gardens of the Champs de Mars, the site of the 1889 World Exposition, near the puppet theater on the 7th arrondissement side of the gardens. Bring lunch and a beverage for yourself and/or to share, a picnic blanket, a comfy outfit, and, hopefully, your sunglasses! A rain date will be chosen, and those registered will be notified in case of inclement weather.
Place: Champs de Mars – Take the Rue de Belgrade into the garden, to the Monuments des Droits Humains. From there take the path towards the Eiffel Tower. You’ll find us on the way, near the Théâtre Guignol.
La Belle Epoque – 1880 until the beginning of WWI.
Les Historiennes 2020
AAWE and the American Women’s Group in Paris were thrilled to host Les Historiennes that ran throughout Fall 2020, with lectures, discussions, guided walks and museum visits, all centered on the French Second Empire.
In some 18 years of turmoil in Paris,
Opéra Garnier was designed,
the Bon Marché, Printemps, and BHV opened,
Notre Dame was restored, and
Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann, and a team of financiers, architects, engineers, and designers transformed the city.
Sculptors created scandal, such as Carpeaux with “La Danse”.
Novelists were tried for obscenity, as the realism of Madame Bovary shocked authorities and became a bestseller among readers.
Madame Bovary Film Discussion
Valerie Sutter, of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Florida, led a Madame Bovary film discussion. Recommended films: 1991 in French or 2014 in English.
Overview and Legacy of the Second Empire
Stéphane Kirkland, of Arcadis and Sciences Po, is the author of Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City (St. Martin’s Press). His lecture via Zoom offered a vivid and engrossing account of the greatest transformation of a major city in modern history, when the Paris we know today was born – the vision of an endlessly ambitious Emperor Napoléon III and his unstoppable accomplice, Baron Haussmann.
Madame Bovary Book Discussion
Sharon Nossiter and members of AWG led this discussion.
Haussmann Paris Walking Tour
Join Margo De Ley, Chevalière des Palmes Académiques, led a guided walk through a Paris neighborhood transformed by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann following the vision of Emperor Napoléon III. The streets and buildings selected for the tour were based on those featured in Stephane Kirkland’s book, Paris Reborn.
Au Bonheur des Dames Book Discussion
Prof. Robert Zaretsky of University of Houston led a discussion of Au Bonheur des Dames/The Ladies’ Paradise, by Emile Zola.
The Battle for Modern Art in Second Empire Paris
Chris Boïcos of Paris Art Studies Lecture. Reserve above (15€) Thursday, Nov 12, 5pm.
Alphand’s Gardens and Bourgeois Neighborhoods Walking Tour
AAWE member, Rosemary Cheylus led this visit to Parc Monceau, seeing it through the eyes of the new bourgeois. The group walked through their luxurious Second Empire neighborhoods in the newly developed 17eme arrondissement catching glimpses of the past, the housing plans, the gracious boulevards, and saw the visual luxury that was intended. What is the message intended for the viewer in this style of garden and in Haussman’s new neighborhoods? The group learned about Alphand’s Gardens, and what makes them enjoyable and unique.
Starting point: Place du Général Brocard and Avenue Van Dyck, 75008. Ending point: Place de la République Dominicaine and Boulevard de Courcelles 75017.
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)