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Paris: Revolution, Democracy and the Avant Garde

May / June 
3-weeks on-site in Paris with scheduled pre- and post-trip class meetings in Milwaukee

  • 6 Credits
  • HUMT396: Humanities/Cultural Studies Travel Elective OR ARTH396: Art History Travel Elective
  • FA396: Fine Arts Studio Travel Elective OR DS396: Design Studio Travel Elective
  • Pre-requisites: Completed Freshman year by time of travel and instructor approval


image | MIAD

The French term avant garde was originally used to describe the foremost part of an army advancing into battle (also called the vanguard or literally the advance guard) and now applied to any group, particularly of artists or designers, that considers itself innovative and ahead of the majority (1st artistic instance Daily Telegraph, 1 July 1910) (Harold Osborne, Oxford Companion to Western Art).

The term also refers to the promotion of radical social reforms. It was this meaning that was evoked by the Saint Simonian Olinde Rodrigues in his essay, “L’artiste, le savant et l’industriel,” (“The artist, the scientist and the industrialist”, 1825) which contains the first recorded use of “avant-­‐garde” in its now-­‐ customary sense: there, Rodrigues calls on artists to “serve as [the people’s] avant-­‐garde,” insisting that “the power of the arts is indeed the most immediate and fastest way” to social, political, and economic reform” (Calinescu, The Five Faces of Modernity). Over time, avant-­‐garde became associated with movements concerned with “art for art’s sake”, focusing primarily on expanding the frontiers of aesthetic experience, rather than with wider social reform (adapted from Peter Burger, “Avant Garde” Oxford Art Online).

Paris, a city with a history that extends back 2,000 years will serve as a nucleus to examine how and why this area of the world has produced such innovative and revolutionary art and design. Paris has served as a home to Roman, Medieval, Baroque, Modern, and Contemporary cultural innovations and monuments, which will be utilized to engage student learning. The Paris museums, which house extensive collections of art and design from pre-­‐history to the present, will further enhance students’ understanding of Paris’ unique environment.

Ideas of Revolution, Democracy, and the Avant Garde can be found in so many layers of Paris’ history and in so many forms. In other cities, the Avant Garde may be present at one time or in one media, but Paris has had the economic, political, and cultural support for artists and designers to create innovative works throughout history in all types of media. Students will explore and analyze this phenomenon.

In engaging with the monuments, museums, and culture, students will be able to formulate their own interpretations of the Avant Garde in Paris. They will examine its connections to revolution and democracy and ultimately test the hypothesis of whether an Avant Garde exists in the twenty-­‐first century. The course will use key examples historical and contemporary art and design to contextualize the Avant Garde. Students will utilize universal cultural elements such as politics, philosophy, economics, innovation, adaptation, assimilation, modernization, and variation to further their understanding and knowledge.

As an advanced level art history/cultural studies and studio course, field studies and individual expression /critique will focus on interpretation, analysis, and critical method rather than mere assimilation and recall of factual material. Students will take a multi-faceted and multidisciplinary approach in examining questions. There will be components of historical, cultural, and artistic research, as well as, critical reflections of student’s own experiences in France. Students will use the time spent on site to research and develop a studio project proposal as well as final paper…work which will be completed upon return to the states.

Dr. Chris Szczesny-Adams, is Professor of Art History at MIAD. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Architectural History and Historic Preservation and also holds an M.A. in Art History from UWM. Chris’s academic background integrates architecture, art, and design history focusing on issues related to Modernity. Chris has traveled often within Western Europe, particularly Paris. She also co-taught the MIAD study abroad programs in Florence, Italy (2010) as well as in Paris (2011, 2013).

Eric Vogel is a practicing architect, Chair of 3D Design at MIAD and teaches in the IA+D area. He has taught senior thesis for nine years and has recently introduced a course called “Architecture in the Field” where, twice a week, students visit, draw, analyze and diagram iconic local and regional buildings from the 18th century to the present. He has a Master’s Degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in art and architectural history. He has lived and worked in England, France and Italy, studied for a year in Lugano, Switzerland and Atelier Italia in Rome during graduate school. Eric co-taught the Paris study abroad course in 2011 and 2013.

Estimated Cost: $4350
Includes 6 credits MIAD summer tuition, housing, field trips and museum admissions, travel health/safety insurance during program dates, and several group meals.

Students are responsible for necessary passports or visas. Airfare is NOT included. (Roundtrip airfare is estimated at $1000.)

Application Deadline: December 1, 2016
Interested students must apply for the program and complete an application packet (download from MIAD website or available outside of office 450B). Space is limited. Completed application forms must include a deposit of $600 payable to MIAD Paris Program, a statement of interest, 2 letters of reference and financial aid form (whether requesting aid or not). Students interested in being considered for this year’s Study Abroad Need-Based Grants must submit their complete application package by November 17, 2016.

Students must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Minimum enrollment must be met for program to run. Deposits will be returned if program is canceled because of insufficient enrollment or if student is not accepted.

Financial Aid:
Financial aid is available for qualified students. Interested students should inquire at the MIAD Financial Aid office ASAP to determine individual eligibility. Students should be aware that financial aid cannot be distributed before the start of the summer term, and in some cases, not until mid-program, so students should plan other means to cover earlier required payments and plane ticket purchases.

Payment Schedule:
Payments on balance of course fee and tuition* will be due in the MIAD Student Accounts Office. Sample payment schedule based on estimated tuition/course fee noted:
December 1, 2016 – $600 Deposit (non-refundable after program acceptance)
January 30, 2017 – $3500
March 20, 2013 – $350
May 1, 2013 – $3050 FINAL PAYMENT**

Full payment is required before program begins.
* Payments beyond the initial deposit may also be non-refundable if expenses have already been paid on participant’s behalf.
** Students who are expecting financial aid for the summer semester can elect to have this applied to their final payment.

Jenny Krantz, Director, Creative Learning Opportunities & Research –