Encountering Paris

in French Literature & Film

with Jennifer Willging / Online

In this seminar we will explore the inimitable city of Paris in French literature and cinema over the last two centuries. While most of these works represent Paris as a preeminently modern city both in its landscape and in the mentalities of its inhabitants, others incite a yearning nostalgia for a Paris of the Belle Époque, before the horrors and the two world wars and the brutal modernization of city in the 1960s and ‘70s. We will take a look at the transformation of Paris and its society from the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy (1815-30) forward and situate these works in both the physical spaces and social climates of their time.

6 Online Sessions


Sept 20 – Nov 29, 2021

2:00pm – 3:15pm EST


Session 1: SEPT 20

Honoré de Balzac, Old Goriot (novel, 1835) and Casey Harison, Paris in Modern Times: From the Old Regime to the Present Day (2019), chs. 1-3

Session 2: OCT 4

Émile Zola, Ladies’ Delight (or Ladies’ Paradise) (novel, 1883) and Harison, Paris in Modern Times, chs. 4 and 5

Session 3: OCT 18

Hélène Berr, The Journal of Hélène Berr (1942-44; 2009) and Harison, Paris in Modern Times, chs. 8 and 9

Session 4: NOV 1

Georges Simenon, Maigret Sets a Trap (novel, 1955); Jean Dellanoy, Inspector Maigret (film adaptation, 1958); and Harison, Paris in Modern Times, ch. 10

Session 5: NOV 15

Jacques Tati, Playtime (film, 1967)

Session 6: NOV 29

Jean-Pierre Jeanet, Amélie (film, 2001) and Harison, Paris in Modern Times, chs. 11 and 12

Meet the moderator

moderator headshot

Jennifer Willging

Jennifer Willging is an Associate Professor of French at The Ohio State University. She earned her PhD from Northwestern University specializing in 20th- and 21st-century French literature and culture. She has published a book titled Telling Anxiety (University of Toronto Press) on “anxious” narration in women’s writing in postwar France, as well as numerous articles on French writers from Louis-Ferdinand Céline to Michel Houellebecq. She has a special interest in France during the Second World War, when literary and cultural output was deeply influenced by four years of German occupation. She is currently working on a new book on contemporary French critiques of happiness as dominant cultural value.  Learn more.