This book considers the post-68 French city as a prism through which to understand the contemporary world and France’s specificity within it. The reader is invited to join in a series of exploratory strolls through texts, buildings, and neighborhoods, and thereby share in a process of discovery. Zeroing in on international architectural debates, a range of key Parisian exhibitions, and major urban design decisions in Paris, Montpellier, and Lille, Yaari unravels an often-acerbic French critique of both modern and postmodern positions on culture, technology, and the city. This critique—stemming from the competing claims of national identity, the ethics of architecture and display, and an anthropologically informed revision of prevailing views on the city—has sparked in France a passionate search for a third path, which the author proposes to term après-moderne. Breaking new ground in the field of French Studies through cultural analysis of the contemporary city, this study brings new insight to scholars and professionals in architecture and urbanism, and will interest all others for whom France and cities in general hold special appeal.
Monique Yaari is a specialist of twentieth-century French literary and cultural studies. For the past decade, her research has focused on the contemporary city. The author of Ironie paradoxale et ironie poétique: sur les traces de Gide dans Paludes (Summa Publications, 1988) as well as numerous articles on contemporary French art and architecture, Professor Yaari teaches in the Culture and Civilization option of the Department of French and Francophone Studies at The Pennsylvania State University.
List of Acronyms
Introduction: A Project Unfolds
Debates: Aesthetics, Society, Identity Modern/Postmodern
Elsewhere, Perhaps, or the “après-moderne”
Regional Capitals: The North-South Axis Montpellier
The National Capital: Center and Periphery, Looking Eastward Beaubourg
Mending the Margins, Mixing the Cultures The Urban Park of La Villette
Conclusion: The City and the French après-moderne Notes
List of Figures and Credits