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Paris: Black in the City of Light

Paris, France: June 7 - 28, 2014
Myisha Priest, Assistant Professor, NYU Gallatin
James Baldwin

James Baldwin


Programs fill on a rolling basis and may fill without notice. Students are encouraged to apply early and only completed applications are reviewed.

This course is open to Graduate and Undergraduate students of all NYU and Non-NYU schools.

Note: This course fulfills 4 units of the Interdisciplinary Seminar and the Humanities foundation requirements.

Course Description

Le Cafe des Artistes by Faith Ringgold

Le Cafe des Artistes by Faith Ringgold

It is often claimed of Paris that the color blindness of its citizens and politics created a haven for African American expatriates. It is certainly true that some of the most important political, philosophical, literary and artistic works of African American culture arise from an encounter with the City of Light, but contained within these works is not "racelessness" but a pronounced sense and articulation of what it means to be a Black American.

From the written works of Harlem Renaissance writers Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Countee Cullen that fomented the Negritude movement, to the performances of Josephine Baker, to the art of Henry Ossawa Tanner and Beauford Delaney, to the music of jazz musicians Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Bill Coleman, to the political philosophies and writings of W.E.B Dubois and James Baldwin, Paris's influence on the creation of African American culture has been profound. Less noted is the degree to which the African American presence in Paris influenced international art and political thought, from the use of African cubism among European artists to the shaping of the philosophies of thinkers like Sarte, Camus and de Beauvoir.

We will focus on Paris as a site of exchange—as an intersection through which pass influential ideas, forms and actions. We will consider the degree to which the encounter with Paris paradoxically made African American writers and artists more aware of and intent upon defining and articulating their Americanness, and finding in it a foundation for increased political activism and shaping of a Pan-African sensibility and community. This class will examine the literature, art, food, geographies and politics of African American expatriates in Paris, paying particular attention to the ways that the view from another shore shaped political thought and activism arising from a deepened awareness of national and international identity that Paris inspired.

Trips to explore the richness of African American life in Paris will include walking tours of "Black Paris," visits to the Louvre and other museums that hold African American art, restaurants that were centers of African American culture in Paris, and even gravesites where expatriates are buried, and which raise crucial questions about the meanings of "home." Students will have plenty of time to use the ideas and works in the course to create their projects and pursue their own ideas.

Students are required to live in program housing arranged by NYU Gallatin. 

Application Requirements

APPLICATION HAS CLOSED; we are no longer accepting applications

  • Online application
  • Personal statement
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Electronic Transcript

Personal statement should be submitted through the online application. Transcript can also be submitted online, mailed/delivered to the address below, or emailed as attachment to

Admission decisions are based on strength of a student's academic performance and his/her personal statement, and space remaining in the program. If offered admission to the course, an initial non-refundable deposit of $400 must be submitted in order to secure your place.

Mailing address:

Gallatin Office of Global Programs
411 Lafayette St., 3rd floor
New York, NY 10003


NYU students may provide an unofficial copy printed or saved as a .pdf from Albert. Students can either submit the transcript through the online application, mail or deliver it to the address above, or e-mail it as an attachment to

Letter of Recommendation

Please submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member or primary academic advisor that speaks of your academic standing and ability to study away in an intensive format. Letters may be mailed or hand delivered to the address above, or e-mailed as attachments to


  • Tuition for 4 points: 3225
  • Deposit (applied to program costs, non-refundable): 400
  • Program Fee (includes some meals, entrance fees): 450
  • Housing Fee: 1415
  • Incidental Costs: Round–trip Airfare (student purchases his/her own airfare)
  • NYU Registration and Services Fee: TBA, usually 300-500 (estimate based on past semesters)

Financial Aid

Gallatin students may apply for a Dean's Scholarship for Winter and Summer Travel Courses. To apply, please complete and submit this application. Deadline for Winter is Oct. 14; the deadline for Summer is March 1.

For information on additional financial aid opportunities, please visit the NYU Office of Financial Aid.