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Graduate Summer 2019: Theresa A. Cunningham

Scales of Seeing: Spatial Experience in Paris, 1849–1899

Department of Art History

Scales of Seeing: Spatial Experience in Paris, 1849–1899

My dissertation argues that in the wake of Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, individuals encountered not only a changed urban landscape; but a radical shift in the everyday experience of city space. This experiential transformation became manifest in paintings and photographs, along with urban plans and textual sources. A disjunction emerged between the corporeal, street-level experience, typically associated with the flâneur, and a novel engagement with space that superseded bodily experience through the aid of infrastructure and technology, including bridges, balconies, hot air balloons, and optical devices, such as telescopes and binoculars. This mediated viewing allowed observers to experience the city on multiple scales, by providing vantage points not previously possible. I demonstrate that Haussmannization not only coincided with new modes of visuality associated with Impressionism, it forged new spatial experiences visible across a range of media. I examine a set of locations that were altered during the second half of the nineteenth century and frequently depicted by artists to elucidate that diverse individual experiences were possible within a city often noted for its homogeneity, expanding on a robust body of scholarship that has looked at media in isolation and separated art historical accounts from those devoted to urbanism.