Paris 1800-1914

Ref: C2343648

A look at the history of Paris in the 19th century through the great art movements of the period, Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and musical representations in the operettas of Offenbach, the operas La Traviata and La Bohème and modern-day musicals like Les Misérables and Moulin Rouge!, examining how much these works actually really reflect what was happening in the city at the time. We will also cover Haussmann’s massive town-planning project that made the city what it is today, the various revolutions and rebellions, the notorious Courtesans, the Cancan, and why Bizet’s opera Carmen was such a failure when it was first performed in 1875.

Course aim

How Paris developed as a capital city in the 19th century: the re-design of the city under Baron Haussmann, political upheavals, societal changes, the arts and entertainment, and the lives of the notorious Courtesans.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This includes live lectures delivered through an online webinar video learning platform, so you will need to have access to the internet with speakers or earphones. There will be opportunity for live discussion of the topics covered.

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

  • Understand why art movements like Realism and particularly Impressionism were so challenging to the art establishment based in Paris
  • Explain some of the reasons for the revolutions and rebellions in Paris during the 19th century
  • Describe the evolution of the Cancan
  • Contrast the lives of the Courtesans with those of "Les Misérables"

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources to support lessons and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

Paris 1800-1914

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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