The Social History of 19th-Century France from the Restoration to the Belle Epoq

Ref: C2339048

Despite all the revolutions and rebellions, which seemed to be constantly breaking out in the 19th century, and the ignominious defeat in war against Prussia, France managed to produce the first photograph, Impressionism, the first cinema show, the opera Carmen, Art Nouveau, and Haussmann's extraordinarily grandiose redesign of the city of Paris. We will also look at the phenomenon of the Parisian Courtesans, the Dreyfus Affair, improvements in education and employment conditions for women, language diversity, and the consolidation of the power and influence of the Bourgeoisie. Illustrated with paintings, cartoons from satirical magazines, film clips, and musical extracts.

Course aim

To examine the social history of France 1815-1914, including the peasantry and linguistic diversity, Haussmann's Paris, the Commune, the Courtesans, the Dreyfus Affair, education and women's rights, the arts.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the aims and achievements of the various rebellions and revolutions in France in the 19th century
  • Give examples of art movements in 19th and early 20th century France
  • Describe the effects of Haussmann's redesign of Paris on the Bourgeois class
  • Outline some of the threats to the stability of the Third Republic

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • Group discussion will be encouraged and the tutor will give feedback

What else do I need to know?

  • Some method of taking notes

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • The following books may be useful: The Discovery Of France by Graham Robb The Social History Of France 1800-1914 by Roger McGraw The Courtesans by Joanna Richardson Cancan! by David Price Novels by Zola, Hugo, de Maupassant, Flaubert

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

The Social History of 19th-Century France from the Restoration to the Belle Epoq


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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