Arts Sciences


BASC0085 City of Light and Shadow: BACAH Paris Summer School

This module will not begin until 2025/26 so content and assessment may change from that shown below. This module is only open to BACAH students and would run the summer before the end of the final year and is dependent on receiving Turing funding.


The BACAH Summer School will give students an opportunity to acquire intimate familiarity with the rich past and vibrant cultural present of one of Europe’s most exciting cities. BACAH summer schools in other locations will be explored and offered to students in future years, subject to continuing financial support.

BACAH is an explicitly multi-, but also inter-disciplinary programme where different modes of creative practice and modes of critical inquiry (across performance, writing and moving image) are both learned separately, but also come together.  This Paris module is one place where we expect students, going into their final year, to be able to bring three modes of creative practice and critical inquiry together, particularly in their independent project work.  The city – as a concept and an experiential phenomenon – is particularly well-suited to this sort of interdisciplinary joining up.

The module will draw on wide-ranging forms of experiential learning and teaching. Small-group seminars and site-specific activities will foreground the of disciplinary perspectives of creative writing, visual culture and performance studies, but will also draw on other research methodologies where appropriate to enhance students’ skills. The core focus of the module is methodological: using the city as a framework and field site for critical humanities thinking and practice across disciplines.

The Paris summer school will enable students to immerse themselves in Paris as a past and present centre for writing, performance and moving image and the site of vibrant creative and cultural industries. Drawing on writings by historians, cultural theorists, artists, philosophers, writers, and journalists, whose creative and critical work has been shaped by their experience of Paris, the course will help students develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the local, regional, national, and global forces that have shaped Paris, with particular attention to the ways in which dominant narratives about Paris are produced, reproduced, and contested. Through structured observation and self-reflection, students will grasp the idea of the city as a palimpsest, and explore a range of theoretical concepts in cultural memory, urban topography and social geography, including but not limited to: the psychogeography of Paris; Paris as a spectacle; the politics of street art; Paris and the Lost Generation; the French avant-garde; Paris and the French New Wave; migrant and diasporic cinema; the boulevards and arcades of Paris; Paris, capital of the 19th century and the birth of the flâneur; the flâneur in relation to the migrant, the expat, and the digital nomad, etc. 

The module will encourage students to tap into the cultural memory of the city at the intersection of critical thinking (studying the cultural history of the city) and creative production.  Coursework will be supplemented by city walks, guided visits to museums, galleries, and various cultural institutions. Students will be asked to produce visual, audio and written diaries and will draw on them, as well as on their experiences, observations, class discussions, and theoretical/historical readings, for the final project - a multimedia critical-creative work that documents their engagement with the city. 

Indicative field trips include, but are not limited to: Théâtre de la Colline, the Musée and the Bibliothèque de la Cinémathèque Francaise, Théâtre du Soleil, the Bibliothèque nationale, the Palais de Tokyo, etc. 

Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to explore in depth a topic relating to one or more of the three core BACAH areas (moving image, writing, performance). In the process, the module will develop students’ independent research skills. 

Assessment (formative)

  1. Four weekly blog posts or written reflections (max, 250 words) on a text read or site visited in Paris.

Assessment (summative)

  1. 1,500 word essay (50%)
  2. Creative project (audio, moving image, writing, or performance) (50%)