Illusory Paris: Blockbuster Architecture + Urbanism

New York/Paris

Spring 2013

Michael Herrman, instructor

In 1997, French anthropologist Marc Augé wrote in “The Impossible Journey” that if Paris’ urban development continues along its present course, by 2040 the city will become a kind of amusement park divided into themed zones that will replace the former city, with few permanent inhabitants, and its streets used principally by pedestrians and horse drawn carriages. More than a decade and a half later, this seemingly preposterous vision grows more credible as both subtle and pronounced transformations continue to take place in Paris that increasingly realize the future that Augé described.

This course explored the transformative effect that Parisian representations in different forms of foreign media have had on the city through an inadvertent alliance with tourism. As the world’s most visited city–with nearly 40 million tourists a year –Paris is profoundly affected by the power of tourism. Through lectures, seminar discussions, and sites visits of both completed and ongoing construction projects in Paris, as well as analyses of film, this course explored and questioned the relationship between media, tourism and the physical form of contemporary Paris.