Paris Muse: Evoking Place in Literature, History and Music

Fall 2023
Winter 2024
Spring 2024
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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"An Artist has no Home… Except in Paris." (F. Nietzsche)

Life, as 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote, must be remade. Over the last three centuries many artists, musicians, thinkers, revolutionaries, and dreamers have taken the road to Paris. In the 19th-century Baudelaire prowled her streets and Mallarmé drew a world of poets to his living room to talk poetry, while in the 20th-century Dadaists, Surrealists and Existentialists made Paris cafés hubs of pure creativity. Stravinsky and Nijinsky launched modern music and dance there, while philosophers effected alchemical alliances with poetry, sociology and psychology.  From Sénégal, Martinique, and the United States came brilliant Black writers and musicians like Senghor, Césaire, Baldwin and Bricktop.

What magnetism made Paris a center of the social, political and artistic world, a labyrinth of possibilities for taking social, creative and intellectual risks? What made Paris a muse, the place where life could be remade?

This program will be a broad-reaching, thematic study of French-speaking cultures, arts, and both social and intellectual history. Through lectures, films, music, and creative workshops, students will develop an understanding of aesthetic, social, and intellectual movements driven by both French artists and thinkers, and by the immigrants, ‘exiles and ex-pats’ who were drawn to the cafés and salons of Paris. In seminars we will explore the novels, poems, philosophical texts, and musical compositions woven into Paris’s past that pushed the boundaries of accepted mainstream styles and launched new movements.

To complement studies of music and culture, students will immerse themselves in French social and political history, charting the evolution of Paris from the late middle ages to the present, paying special attention to the 18th-century Enlightenment and struggles for representation and voice in 19th, 20th and 21st-century Paris. We’ll see how Parisians have redefined themselves and their city through such moments as the 1572 Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the 1789 French Revolution, resistance in occupied Paris during World War II, and contemporary struggles over definitions of French identity in the increasingly diverse 21st-century city.

French language will be taught in the program at three levels throughout the year, enriching students’ understanding of texts and culture, and preparing students for their spring quarter study abroad experience. Both absolute beginners and students with prior study of French are welcome!

In spring, students and faculty travel to France for ten weeks. Students participate in intensive language study in Rennes before moving to Paris, where the city becomes their laboratory as they undertake cultural and historical fieldwork, link their studies of the past to the Parisian present, and complete an independent project. Spring quarter is an excellent opportunity to complete a substantive body of creative or research-oriented work, including a senior capstone project, with guidance from faculty and integrated peer critique.       

Fall and winter quarter, the majority of program lectures, seminars and workshops will occur during the day. However, students in beginning or intermediate French will have French language instruction on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Advanced French classes will occur during the day.

For those first year students who are new to college, this program incorporates  Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First year students will get 14-credits from this program, and 2-credits from a Greener Foundations course. First year students will need to register both for the 14-credit program CRN and for Greener Foundations. Continuing first year students, as well as sophomores, juniors and seniors, should register for 16 credits in Paris Muse, as they will not need to take Greener Foundations.


Fall 2023 Registration
Winter 2024 Registration
Spring 2024 Registration

This quarter includes study abroad and no additional students will be allowed to register. 

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

humanities, history, cultural studies, language teaching, writing, international organizations, and jobs and graduate schools in the European Union.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
Hybrid (F)
Hybrid (W)
In Person (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Study Abroad

Approximately $8200 (optional) in spring quarter for students who choose to do a 10-week study abroad in France.

Special Expenses: $5975 (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves to cover airfare, meals and activity expenses, and some in-country transportation and lodging)

Required Student Fee: $1825 (Fee covers homestay and language school expenses, shared transport, and required activities)

Administrative Fee:$400 (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)

May be offered again in