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First-Year Seminar (101-6-1)


Art & the French Revolution, 1789-1815


Thadeus Jay Dare Dowad

Meeting Info

University Library 3622: Tues, Thurs 11:00AM - 12:20PM

Overview of class

The French Revolution is widely considered one of the triumphant origins of modern liberal democracy, epitomized by its famous motto: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." However, the realities are far more complex (and far less idealistic). The French Republic confronted crisis after crisis as it struggled to integrate the working classes, women, immigrants, and racial and religious minorities into the body politic. France's colonies and the hundreds of thousands of slaves whose labor secured French wealth posed additional challenges to the Revolution's utopian project, ultimately paving the way for the expansion of French imperialism under Napoleon Bonaparte.

This first-year seminar examines the significant roles played by art and architecture in producing French citizens and representing Revolutionary values. In addition to canonical artists and architects of the period, such as Jacques-Louis David, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, and Étienne-Louis Boullée, this course also examines popular visual and material culture, including political cartoons, festivals, and costumes. Students will learn how to describe and analyze a wide range of cultural objects, and apply those skills to understand how artworks can intervene in revolutionary conditions to shape political and social realities.

Class Materials (Required)


Class Notes

Starting November 21st please use the following link to sign up for the Waitlist for this course:

Class Attributes

WCAS First-Year Seminar

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for First Year & Sophomore only