Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of cinema is its ability to not only project and perpetuate stereotypes, but also to challenge and even break them. In fall 2016, students in Prof. Maryse Fauvel’s course FREN 393 “Representations of Paris in cinema: stereotypes and beyond”, studied French cinema that moves beyond these stereotypes. Eight of the students enrolled in this course also registered for a 1-credit COLL 300 that entailed a trip to Paris from Oct. 7 to 15.
The purpose of the trip was to discover aspects of Paris that are rarely shown in films, Prof. Fauvel explains. Students wrote blog posts on numerous interesting topics of their choice, including the metro, the commodification of death in the Père Lachaise cemetery, graffiti, sites of memory, and other topics.
Highlights of their trip included a visit to the Parisian sewers, a guided tour of several multicultural and multilingual neighborhoods (such as the Goutte d’Or, with immigrants from various French provinces in the 19th-century, and since then from Western Africa ; or Belleville, with immigrants from North-Africa ; or the so-called Chinese neighborhood, with immigrants from China, Vietnam, Thailand) ; as well as a tour of the film museum and film studios ; a tour of a brand new art museum built by Frank Gehry in a post-modern style in the western part of Paris, as well as a talk in the 19th-century art Museum d’Orsay on “Paris, a city from the 19th-century”.
Several students expressed that the trip to Paris was the “highlight of their educational experience” because it not only allowed them to view Paris and the French people from different perspectives, but they also put to work and developed their analytical, critical, and writing skills through the course blog that was created over just five days!
The course and the trip were a fantastic experience for everyone involved!