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People, Places, Things: La culture en deçà des clichés

People, Places, Things, an exhibition aimed at the students in the first course of the French language sequence, provides myriad opportunities to connect class materials to authentic cultural products. The English exhibition title, People, Places, Things, may remind some readers of the Facebook search box, and others of the traditional definition of a noun. Both associations reinforce the pedagogical purpose of this exhibit: words and their connections!

The nouns and names represented in this exhibit have high iconic value. Indeed, it was a thrill to recognize "Renoir", "Daumier", "Cartier-Bresson", "Colette" and "Opinel" in the College Art Collection database, and to discover the actual objects they refer to in the Perlman Teaching Museum vault. First and foremost I hope that students and other visitors alike will experience the excitement of recognition and discovery in the presence of beautiful art works. 

Beyond the initial pleasure of recognition and aesthetic experience, students and other viewers are invited to tackle la culture en deçà des clichés, or "culture below the surface." These images, functioning as cultural "snapshots," will reveal volumes about people, places, and things in France. The French title (hint:"clichés" means "snapshots" as well as "clichés" in French) is an invitation to find out why "Opinel" (see photograph by Ralph Gibson) are crucial to national and regional identity, or to better understand the role of writers including Jean Anouilh (cf photograph by Cartier-Bresson) in French society. Working closely with their Teaching Assistants, students will explore issues raised by the "snapshots" and take up the challenge of expressing new knowledge in French.


Henri Cartier-Bresson, Albert Camus

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Edouard Manet, <em>Charles Baudelaire</em>
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Henri Cartier-Bresson, <em>Albert Camus</em>

Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004)
Albert Camus, 1946
Gelatin silver print on paper


AlbertCamus_CartierBresson.jpg, French, exhibit
18 May 2011