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Objects of Dispute

Planning, Discourse, and State Power in Post-War France

Edward Welch

Year 2000. Not only did this material articulate the planners’ wishful thinking, or what Sylvia Ostrowetsky terms “l’imaginaire bâtisseur,” 5 but it signaled the extent to which spatial planning was a discursive project, and how the environments it

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Gérard Grunberg

The radical component is still alive in French socialism. It finds expression notably in the anti-liberal economic perspective that the international financial crisis has recently reawakened. It is also expressed in the critique of the institutions of the Fifth Republic that Nicolas Sarkozy's "hyper-presidency" has revived. The tendency toward radicalization, however, is also heavily constrained these days for several reasons. The Socialist Party, first of all, has become a party of government. The centrality of the presidential election in the French system and the presidentialist character that the Socialist Party has taken on make a presidential victory a top priority for the party. Too radical a discourse can become, for such a party, counter-productive. The economic environment, moreover, and the situation the country faces makes less and less credible as a political objective the large-scale, state-led redistribution that has traditionally been how French socialism has translated its radicalism into a program of government.

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Edward Berenson

This forum of brief essays derives from a day-long gathering held at NYU’s Institute of French Studies to discuss Debora Silverman’s prizewinning Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000). Silverman’s groundbreaking book shows how the deeply religious and spiritual environment in which both Gauguin and van Gogh grew up helped to shape, in important ways, their perceptions of the world, perceptions fundamental to the making of their art and to our own understanding of it. Despite the two painters’ ostensibly secular views of the world,Silverman argues, their respective religious educations remained with them and underpinned their art. Religion affected not only the subject matter of their paintings but texture, surface, color, and composition as well.

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Margaret Cohen

At the beginning of the twentieth century, due to the spread of helmet diving beyond engineering communities, people started to attend to the remarkable qualities of underwater optics, differing radically from seeing through air. With the revelation of this unfamiliar planetary environment to a broader public, creators across the arts took inspiration from underwater optics to structure fantasy spaces of dream, hallucination, and marvel. To show the properties of underwater optics inspiring these fantasy spaces, this article analyzes undersea paintings by Walter “Zarh” Pritchard, reputedly the first artist to have painted en pleine mer. It then turns to aquatically-inspired works of surrealism, the movement offering the most famous appropriation of underwater optics for the arts, focusing notably on André Breton's L'Amour fou and Jean Vigo's L'Atalante.

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Alain Vaillant


During the nineteenth century, not only did the extraordinary development of the printed press transform the cultural environment, but it also brought about major formal changes in literature. This article explores these trasnformations through a focus on the contemporary use of the concept of “modernity.” The word dates back to 1688 at least, but it was mostly employed during the nineteenth century to describe post-revolutionary France and especially to criticize its consumerism and materialistic “bourgeoisie.” Nineteenth-century media culture embodied the triumph of “modernity,” especially in the form of the petite presse (“small press”). Born in a world where censorship still compromised the freedom of speech, the petite presse was an illustrated, satirical, ironical, and wisecracking medium. It aspired to a generalized non-seriousness which would, for a long time, be viewed as the “Parisian spirit.”

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Ronald Aronson

Not believing in God is, on the one hand, a very simple matter. As most Danes and Swedes know, it is increasingly possible to grow up in a wholly secular environment, where questions about sin, grace, and an afterlife never get posed, where well-being is taken for granted, where people feel protected and reassured not by churches but by societal institutions. But on the other hand, as Sartre said, “becoming an atheist is a long a difficult undertaking.” Becoming an atheist in a religious culture entails sorting through a series of profound issues. To think through what this means and how to live one’s entire life in a world without God requires addressing, as Sartre knew, life’s ultimate questions about “man and the universe.” It is, in short, one thing to live as if God does not exist, but quite another to provide secular answers to Kant’s three great philosophical questions: “What can I know?”, “What may I hope?”, “What should I do?” This is what my book, Living without God, sets out to do.

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Manufacturing a Multifunctional Countryside

Operational Landscapes, Urban Desire, and the French State, 1945–1976

Venus Bivar

conservation presented the state with a means of reorienting land use policy that promised to curb agricultural output. As a result, rural lands were set aside for the enjoyment of urban residents, and the environment was recognized as an end in itself, to be

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Eric Jennings, Hanna Diamond, Constance Pâris de Bollardière, and Jessica Lynne Pearson

community, healing them (physically and psychologically) and raising and educating them as Jews. Indeed, Jewish family structure was deeply weakened, children suffered from various traumas, and many who had survived in hiding in a non-Jewish environment

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From In-Itself to Practico-Inert

Freedom, Subjectivity and Progress

Kimberly S. Engels

-itself characterises human consciousness. It is ‘negative’ being in the sense that it can differentiate itself from its environment by understanding what it is not and then negatively construct a concept of what it is. Being for-itself can consciously make choices

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Paul Gyllenhammer

. 6 Human creativity in this sense is largely based on what is given in the surrounding environment. Obviously, present objects are altered in the production process, as honey is extracted from a bee hive and filtered for human consumption. Indeed